Gender, environmental justice, and climate change

Stacey Sowards's picture

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP22 in Marrakech.]

Today is gender day at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), COP 22.  With that in mind, I would like to share a few thoughts about gender, environmental justice, and connections to climate change.  I attended a panel sponsored by the Women and Gender Constituency, which focused on technical, non-technical, and transformative approaches to addressing gender and climate change.  Women's leadership in all parts of the world is essential for how we understand and deal with climate change, which is even more on my mind given last week's election in the United States.

This panel highlighted several interesting approaches.  On the technical side, the Foundation Mohammed VI is working to provide solar powered cooking stoves and training on how to use them to women in southern Morocco.  These stoves help prevent the deforestation of argan trees (often used as firewood for cooking) and reduce CO2 emissions.  Furthermore, the stoves reduce toxic wood fire fumes and smoke inhalation, so they are a win-win for everyone.

Another organization, YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU), was recognized for its non-technical solutions.  This organization operates in Central Java (Indonesia), and focuses on water scarcity and landslide issues related to deforestation.  The organization helps local communities develop land management strategies and water saving solutions to provide clean water and sanitation for families in this region.  Women's groups are the key decision makers and implementers.

In Senegal, the organization Enda Graf Sahel, was acknowledged for its transformation solutions to climate change and gender.  4800 women fishers are being trained to protect their resources and rights in sustainable mangrove shellfishing, specifically focusing on economic empowerment and reduction of wood burning stoves.  They rely on traditional knowledge to improve the ecological aspects of fishing.

These examples illustrate the importance and influence of women and culture in mobilizing people to address climate change impacts and CO2 reductions.  Working on the local level in small communities can generate big ideas that are replicable and scalable at much higher levels.  Bringing our attention to such solutions and how we can work to spread such ideas is an excellent focus for IECA members.  I feel very privileged to be able to attend such events and represent IECA at the UNFCC COP 22.



About the Author: 

Dr. Stacey Sowards is Professor & Chair, Department of Communication, The University of Texas at El Paso

Rare Program Director, UTEP-Rare Partnership in Indonesia, Philippines, Mozambique, Brazil, Colombia