According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, investing in females is one of our strongest weapons for solving climate change and improving human resilience. Research shows women adopt innovative and preventative measures at a faster rate than men and where women have higher social and political status, their countries have 12% lower CO2 emissions. Covid-19 has shed light on the power women can have in leadership. A study comprised of 194 countries found that pandemic responses were systematically better in countries led by women and that deaths were lower in states with a female governor. With the climate crisis now more urgent than ever, it is vital to give women equal voice and representation in policy and management.
This isn’t the first time either. Across time, place, and culture, the story never changes women have braved life as earth’s custodians, nourishing the land and humanity to drive sustainability and shape communities. As the effects of climate change are felt, examples of women stepping up to act have been demonstrated around the world. Hundreds of women from India’s Chipko movement joined together on the spot, hugging trees for days and daring loggers to take their lives before cutting down the Indigenous forests. Thousands of women from Bolivia rallied to protest water privatization during the country’s water wars, and tens of thousands of women from Kenya’s Green Belt movement reinvigorated their nation’s economic and ecological frontiers by planting trees.
In addition to leading movements, women also lead economies. Studies show that businesses with three or more women in senior management positions score higher on all dimensions of organizational performance, and female founded companies outperformed those founded by men by 63%. Women in North America start 70% of new businesses and now control over half of the wealth. It is also estimated that women make 70-80% of all consumer purchases. This potential can be leveraged to transition more rapidly to a sustainable, clean energy economy as women are more likely to recycle, buy organic food, eco-labeled products, and endorse energy efficiency measures.
With leadership, organization, and economic power, it is time to bet on women. Policymakers, investors, and philanthropists need to understand that women can act as an immense force for change by leading their communities and the world towards a more sustainable future. More female representation is thus needed in multilateral climate negotiations. Efforts also must be dramatically increased to empower women by funding them accordingly and positioning them as the rightful leaders of the movement to solve the climate crisis. The time is now, our planet can’t wait.