March 8th marks international women’s day, which is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is a day to further promote gender equity and equality. As we recognize the day and celebrate our women, it is also important to recognize the relationship between women and the environment, women and climate change. Women, especially in rural environments have direct contact with nature and hence are affected the most by the effects of climate change. Example due to water sources drying up; they walk longer distances to search for the important resource. However, women also have a vital role in environmental management and development and hence essential to achieve sustainable development. The role of women in confronting and adapting to climate change should be increased in order to come up with better, more balanced and effective approaches.
Role of women in environmental conservation:
The role of women in the society is critical in combating poverty and controlling population in order to work for the protection of the environment and natural resources. Population dynamics have an influence in environmental problems and development patterns. Therefore, women’s empowerment efforts would lead to families being well informed and hence bridge a gap between actual and desired fertility. Empowerment can only be achieved through education or by creating awareness among the women population.
Other roles derived and shaped by the roles women play in the society are:
In soil conservation and agriculture;
Globally, women are contributing a great deal to agricultural production, their roles include production and distribution, planting and cultivation, weeding and harvesting and as a result, they are victims of soil degradation. This provides an opportunity to participate actively in soil conservation projects and green/climate-smart organic farming.
In Forest Management;
Forests play a very important role in protecting the soils, water resources, air purification and combating climate change. They are also vital in biodiversity conservation and of economic importance too. However, especially for rural women, wood fuel, charcoal and kerosene are the main sources of energy leading to deforestation, soil degradation and air pollution. Women can there for be actively involved in tree planting efforts and use of clean fuel like biogas.
In water resources management;
Women are at the center of the management of the communal water resources and house hold water requirement at times, they lock up the taps to prevent children from damaging the water pipes. It is therefore important for women to be involved in water management efforts and alternative water sources such as rain water harvesting and also protection and rehabilitation of existing watershed.
In cleaning and waste disposal;
Another of women’s role is being directly involved in keeping the environment clean especially in terms of garbage disposal. Giving the health hazard of garbage, women see to its regular disposal at the community level by doing it themselves. Women’s involvement with environmental management and problems make them to participate actively in keeping drainages around them clean.
Another tool to be used in promoting women involvement in sustainable development is Ecofeminism. Ecofeminism offers a way of thinking and organizing ourselves by encouraging interconnectedness with our environment and addressing the subjugation of women and marginalized peoples. Categorizing women and subjugated peoples with the environment allows for the recognition of social and environmental injustices from a unique and often forgotten perspective, which in turn allows for solidarity and solace. Its primary aim is to address and eliminate all forms of domination while recognizing and embracing the interdependence and connection humans have with the earth.
This women’s day let us also celebrate and recognize the women participating in conservation and sustainability efforts, efforts to combat climate change and shedding light on the link between; women, the environment and development.