As I’m sure most readers will know, NFWI was at COP 26 in November 2021. That wasn’t the end of a story, but the beginning of a new chapter—the UK is president until next November and there is still plenty of opportunity to put pressure on the Government to do what’s needed. The WI is keeping the momentum going—we had Show the Love in February, there will be the Great Big Green Week in September and NFWI and WI Climate Ambassadors are continuing with activism, craftivism and events.
The WI was not the only women’s group present: there were many gender-focused events. Not only does climate change have disproportionate impacts on women and girls around the world, but women are important as leaders in their various communities.
One organisation, the Malala Fund, organised an event about education. Its report says, “In 2021 alone, climate change impacts will prevent four million girls from completing their education. If current trends continue, by 2025 climate change will be a contributing factor in preventing at least 12.5 million girls from completing their education each year.”
In the areas most affected by climate change, families will often take girls out of school to help cope with chores or to marry them off . Yet Malala’s research has found that every additional year girls spend in school leads to a significant improvement in the country’s resilience to climate events.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Met Office hosted an event on What women bring to climate science. This showed some of the outcomes of education for girls via a panel of very senior female scientists from global organisations involved in meteorology and climate change. They discussed why diversity is essential for climate science, the importance of equality in education and how to ensure representation from those countries most affected. There is a recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/zt4MHDNVYHQ
One key subject is the importance of mentoring and role models, to give younger women and girls the courage to step forward into the sciences, being supportive of them and of collaborative approaches to leadership to make this happen.
Empowering women is, of course, very much part of the WI’s ethos. There is a lot we can do, each in our own way.
The website https://unfccc.int/gender has an overview of gender and climate change with lots of interesting links.
The WI climate action pages are here.