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Climate Change, Gender, redefining

More women in power equals more eco-friendly decisions new study has found that countries where women have more political power have lower CO2 emissions. We posted this article on our Facebook, but I think it’s worthy of a longer post.

The researchers, Christina Ergas and Richard York, found that “even when controlling for a variety of measures of “modernization,” world-system position, and democracy, nations where women have 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.”

I pull two things from this. First, that women should have more political power. And second, that this may be assuming that all women will vote eco-friendly.

I do think that with more women in power, we would have a better chance at being a more eco-friendly country. Lisa Haymes of the Grist writes that having more women in power could to things “Like, say, not giving away the family store to oil barons, not building a massive, leak-prone, climate-screwing pipeline right down the middle of the country, not squandering $4 trillion on two simultaneous, senseless wars …”

We know that there is a history of women’s voices being ignored, which can only be solved by electing more women into powerful positions. It equals the balance of power and should give a more balanced debate about issues facing both men and women.

However, I’m uncertain that women think so differently from men that this will automatically solve our problems. I’m unsure that pinning all hopes of becoming a less destructive country on women leaders is a good thing. When we talk about how women in power will make different decisions about the environment than men would, we are assuming a lot of things.

First, we are assuming that all women will think the same. All women don’t think/act the same. How we think and how we act is not hardwired by our genitals, but rather it is a fluid concept based on the world by which we are surrounded. I make different decisions about my impact on the planet than my neighbor because we are influence by different things. This idea assumes that women will automatically make better decisions than their male counterparts. Lisa Haymes ends her article by saying: “Here in the U.S., as of last year, men held 83.2 percent of seats in Congress, 88 percent of governorships, and 76.7 percent of state legislator positions. No wonder we’re such a mess.” Let’s keep the blame and battle of the sexes out of the environment, shall we? It’s only more divisive and is just untrue. There are men in power making awesome strides toward a more eco-friendly world. Let’s not count them out because of their gender.

Second, if we take the first assumption as fact, this comes down to an essestialist argument, where women vote environmental because they are concerned with the future of the planet for their children. I don’t know how many times I have to say this to people, but STOP ASSUMING EVERYTHING I DO IS BASED ON MY NON-EXISTENT FUTURE CHILDREN. In fact, if women are being truly eco-friendly, we wouldn’t have children at all, as they increase our earthly impact.

Some women might very well become environmentalists because of the health of their children. And that’s great, and a damn good reason to get involved. But it’s not every woman, and it’s certainly not my reason. Assuming that that is every woman’s reason for being green is pigeon-holing women into the role of care-givers and assuming that that role is hardwired into us. It’s not.

All of that being said, I think the trend of researching this topic is good – putting this out there in the public is raising the awareness of the need for women in power. Which is a good thing. So go join your local environmental group and become a leader in your community. We need strong women voices in the environmental movement!



One thought on “More women in power equals more eco-friendly decisions

  1. The Earth Day Network began the “Women and the Green Economy (WAGE)” in December 2010 at the UNFCCC 16th Conference of the Parties. The WAGE Campaign is “actively creating a road map for women to aggregate their power and promote their leadership in creating a sustainable green economy and mitigating climate change.” You can find out more here:

    Posted by aalford1 | April 12, 2012, 2:17 pm

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