Gender Day at the Paris Climate Conference

December 8th was the UNFCC declared Gender Day at the UN Convention on Climate Change in Paris.  Climate change disproportionately affects women, as the poor are most hit by climate change issues such as flooding, droughts and crop failure.  Women make up 70% of the world’s poorest, located in rural areas where they are responsible for securing food and water, as well as energy for heating and cooking. 

The UNFCC highlights programs throughout the world which are contributing to climate action.  Of this year’s 16 winners, 4 were recognized on gender day for their support or leadership by women:

  • Solar Market Gardens, Benin – solar-powered wells and pumps provide water during the dry season, enabling year-round crop production.  30 to 40 women farm the garden, and it has changed the lives of the entire community.
  • Harvesting Geothermal Energy, El Salvador – the surplus of geothermal condensation made in producing electricity is used for community projects, including irrigating coffee and cocoa plantations.
  • Planting trees to save the mangrove, Guinea – to stop the deforestation of mangrove trees, 4 islands have begun planting Maringa trees, which grow quickly and whose leaves have high nutritional value.  This leaves the mangrove trees in place, providing a natural sea barrier to combat rising sea levels.
  • Fostering cleaner production, Columbia – an all-women alliance is changing the local construction industry to use cleaner production methods through innovation.

Overall, the message was that women are best able to recognize opportunities for change, as they are on the front lines locally.  But it is not only women in developing countries who can make a difference; we can all make a difference in our local communities, and at least in our own households.  We can try to lower energy consumption, or decrease our food waste.  As Natalie Isaacs, Founder and CEO of 1 Million Women stated: “Climate change is a complex issue, and people shy away from doing something because they don’t know what to do.  Just do one thing, and I promise you, that one thing will lead to another.”   

What will you do to make a difference today? As important as the Paris talks are to give us long-term goals for global climate change, change can start today in your own home.  Be a part of the movement.

Stacey Kimmig

 

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