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Participation by women is crucial to achieving global climate targets
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Participation by women is crucial to achieving global climate targets

Women cooking using an open fire stove


We are scientists and engineers. We are women, but we are also citizens of the planet. We believe that urgent action is necessary to address the climate crisis.

Climate change has a different effect on women than men. There are many places in the world where climate change is a problem, especially in areas with less population. economically developed countries, extreme weather events associated with climate change – such as droughts and floods – have harsher effects on more vulnerable people, many of whom are women. In fact, more than 80% of the more than 200,000 people who have been affected by climate change are women. 125 millionOver 75% of those in need for humanitarian assistance are children and women.

Discussions at the UN climate summit are ongoing COP26This is what Glasgow recognizes. COP26 Gender Day, on 9 November, aimed to highlight how women’s voices and participation are indispensable in the fight against climate change.

Many women who are involved in climate action are hindered by restrictions on their rights, lack of financial resources, education and training, and limited access the forums that make decisions about them, as well. And because of these barriers, women’s experience that could help communities adaptChanges in environmental conditions are often overlooked.

Women are often responsible for the tasks that women have to perform in their homes and communities. These include cooking, washing, and food preparation. Women in conflict zones and developing countries often resort to firewood and charcoal to get affordable energy. These sources are becoming more dependent. deforestationThis puts women and their families at high risk exposureto avoid fire and smoke hazards

While leaders and concerned citizens around the world have been able to suggested that cleaner energy sources be used, this isn’t usually cheap or easy to do. In particular, many new technologies intended to address this problem are abandoned because the concerns of their potential users – in this case women – have not been factored in.

Women cooking using an open fire stove
Many of the energy-generating technologies that women use in their communities, such as cooking, are often handled by them.
Wambui Mwangi

These concerns include fear of loss or inability to use the technology, and concern about security. job lossesIf communities embrace technology, and religious or culture barriersrelated to the use of waste water or renewable fuels such as faeces for energy generation. These challenges could be solved much faster if women’s voices were made central to the design process.

Women are also at the forefront of the demand to reduce packaging and the need for less packaging. recycling in homes. Calls to use are one example. refillable systems when buying groceries and household supplies cannot be successful without the primary users of these systems – usually women – championing the concept.


Another challenge is the persistent underdevelopment of women’s talents in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) – meaning fewer women end up leading climate innovation.

According to the British Historical Society, it was a century ago. Women’s Engineering SocietyTalented women were actively excludedEngineering based on gender. This cultural legacy is still being addressed today. For example, parents are more likely to want their sons to be successful than their daughters. engineers.

With half of the global population facing potential discouragement from pursuing scientific careers, it’s more important than ever to engage women with climate science so that the best possible clean technologiescan be identified and implemented.

This must be done quickly. We are rapidly running out time to address the climate crisis. If we limit people’s participation based on their gender identity, then we are filtering some of the most brightest and most committed individuals who can, quite literally. change the world.

People gather around someone holding a scientific instrument
Increasing women’s representation in the climate sector starts with diversifying science education.
NASA_Goddard/Flickr. CC BY-SA

Part of encouraging more diverse students to study STEMM subjects is achieved by identifying and eliminating barriers that girls face in their entry to scientific careers. Gender equality strategies, such as those suggested by the UK-led, can help to overcome these barriers. Athena Swan Charter. This is only the beginning. The next step is to keep this diversity in our workforce.

This requires that we address the international entrenched. gender pay gapThis is crucial, as well as ensuring that skilled individuals who have lost their careers due to caring responsibilities are supported in re-entering their professions.

Leaders who speak out on these issues can have significant impacts on gender equality within the climate sector. Climate gender equality campaign opens letter SHE Changes Climate, supported by over 450 environmental leaders of all genders, highlighted and challenged women’s underrepresentationCOP26 negotiations

This led to the creation of the #5050Vision campaign “to ensure all delegations, for all climate negotiations, have at least a 50% representation of diverse women at their top levels”.

As researchers, we’ve worked on inclusive, innovative programmes like Humanitarian EngineeringThe teaches students to consider cultural context and gender equality when designing technical solutions to problems. These programs, which are focused on positive social impact, are more engaging. more gender diverseStudents in cohorts can lead to better outcomes.

If we want to create equitable, inclusive, and sustainable climate change solutions that benefit all, it is crucial that women around the world are empowered. This must be a key component of the outcome of COP26. This loss of talent cannot be sustained in any way.

COP26: the world's biggest climate talks

This story is part of The Conversation’s coverage on COP26, the Glasgow climate conference, by experts from around the world.

The Conversation is here for you to clarify the air and get reliable information amid a flood of climate news stories and stories. More.

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