I talked about this before, but the pairing of women and good environmental stewards has come up again lately, especially when discussing the Rio+20 Summit. There was a fantastic article on thefword.com a few days ago that talked about locating women in the green economy. I think this is a topic that deserves so much more attention.
In her article, Hanna Thomas mentions the difficulty in getting climate change policy-makers to understand the locus of women – it is assumed that women in the developing country can best assist in the green economy by ‘selling coconut shell necklaces.’ The point is that the role of women is severely understated and underestimated. Women have a huge role to play in the green economy – they already play a huge role in developing economies around the world, and they can only add to the green economy.
When I hear that women have been nearly left out of any document coming out of Rio +20, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that women are still not seen as viable players in the climate change game. I can’t believe that half of the population is left out of deciding the future of the planet.
Sometimes, I feel like it’s losing battle, trying to fight for women’s environmental rights around the world. Here at home, it seems so straightforward. I am a woman, I do my best to limit my impact on the earth. And my role in climate change seems to only stretch that far. I won’t be one of the millions directly affected by climate change in the next few years (other than some bizarre weather that might impact my desire to leave the house), and I won’t be one of the millions who lose their homes to rising sea levels. But I have a voice that is listened to. It seems unfair that those who will be the most impacted struggle the most to have their voices heard above the din of developed countries arguing over policies that won’t change their lives.
This started out as a post about how women were left out of Rio+20 (again), but as I think about that prospect, I’m beaten by the realization of how skewed this all is, how unequally distributed the impact and actions are. How do we, with our #firstworldproblems, counter the privilege we have to be able to think about reducing our impact? I want to see women at the forefront of the climate ‘debate.’ I want to see women who face more pending impact than I be listened to with rapt attention. And I want to feel more represented by a government choosing to ignore the personal impact of climate change around the world.
So what can we do?