The Environmental Benefits of Gender Equality

In our society and societies around the world, there are hierarchical social structures that attribute to the degradation and devaluing of women and nature which has led to our current environmental crisis. Environmental issues will continue to have graver ramifications if not addressed swiftly and with an understanding that any policy looking to enhance our environmental state, must also enhance the state of women. In Kari Norgaard and Richard York’s “Gender Equality and State Environmentalism,” the two authors place a key emphasis on how “improving gender equality may serve to further ecological reforms, as ecofeminists have theorized.” (Norgaard, York PDF 14) The article analyzes research which indicates that “women are more likely than men to express support for environmental protection and that women consider a variety of environmental risks, from nuclear power to toxic substances, to be more serious than do men.” (Norgaard, York PDF 3) The authors also conclude from their findings that “societies with higher levels of gender equality are more supportive of environmental protection.” (Norgaard, York PDF 14) This illustrates how improving the status of women and their political representation in global societies will ultimately improve the environmental status of the world, linking the status of nature and women as one.

In the UN report listed above, the organization examines how the representation of women in political institutions (government, parliament, the prime minister, etc) has a definite correlation with environmental reformation and policies. The article emphasizes that critical steps need to be taken to narrow the gender gap and empower women into leadership positions in order to help reduce the impact of climate change. The article illustrates how there is a consensus that “gender inequality can worsen the impacts of climate change,” and that in order to empower women we must begin to view women as “not just helpless victims but powerful agents of change,” knowing that their leadership is critical.

In this second article by Women Deliver, the author illustrates that though women (especially those in developing countries) bear the brunt of climate change, they are in fact “the world’s best bet in the fight for a clean, healthy, and sustainable planet.” The website article explains how the traditional role of women as caregivers, nurturers, procurers of water, and agricultural production not only makes them well suited to further prevent “degradation and adapt to the changing climate – they have a vested interest in doing so” as well. Like Norgaard and York, the author explains how studies found that “countries with higher female parliamentary representation are more prone to ratify international environmental treaties.” Also, these studies found that when women gain rights and access to land, they utilize natural resources sustainably.

Image result for women of color coming together to heal earth

By including women in climate change reforms and decision making, we can assure that our planet is well taken care of by helping to end climate change and guaranteeing enough safe drinking water, food, and shelter by preventing environmental degradation and the consequence of human displacement for the next generations to come. A new study I found from the Social Science Research (JSTOR – Christina Ergas & Richard York) shows that men are basically terrible for the environment. The study examines country’s environmental practices and the correlating status of women in government and found (like Norgaard and York) that nations, where women had higher political status, “as indicated by the length of time women, have had the right to vote and women’s representation in parliament and ministerial government — tend to have lower CO2 emissions per capita.” (Ergas, York) Even more simply put, carbon dioxide emissions are lower in nations where women have higher political status, and in those nations where women do not, the carbon dioxide emissions are higher (also nations with greater military spending). So the conclusion has been illustrated, explained, and reiterated, women and women in higher political power is good for the environment and thus good for us all. Oh, how beneficial equality can really be!

Image result for mother earth african

(JSTOR Article – Ergas, York)

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