The girls, the women and the climate

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WHY IS CLIMATE BREAKDOWN A WOMENS ISSUE?⁣ ⁣ Yesterday, XR groups all over the world took part in actions to highlight the disproportionate impact of the climate and ecological emergency on women⁣ and the resulting increase in violence, hardship and rape. The effects of climate breakdown are already been felt by our sisters in parts of the Global South. ⁣ ⁣ A January 2020 report for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature found that climate breakdown and environmental degradation are driving an increase in violence against women, including rape. ⁣ ⁣ UN figures indicate that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women.⁣ ⁣ Globally, women are more likely to experience poverty, and to have less socioeconomic power than men. This makes it difficult to recover from disasters which affect infrastructure, jobs and housing. ⁣ ⁣ #ExtinctionRebellion groups took to the streets for #InternationalWomensDay in Colombia, Chile, Spain, Turkey, The Gambia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Uganda, DRC, Belgium, Israel, The Philippines, Switzerland, Argentina and the UK. ⁣ ⁣ #Equality #IWD #ClimateEmergency #EcologicalBreakdown ⁣ ⁣ Photos: @thelightscaper @xrebellionuk @extinctionrebellionnigeria @xrargentina XR Hewa Boro Congo @xraaa_n @yokolusisyani @extinctionrebelliondk @unwisemonkeys. Statistics Source: International Union for the Conservation of Nature

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“Women are the natural leaders of our planet in the 21st century. They have to lead in every sphere.”
~ Julian Cribb, in ABC Q&A

The climate issue is also a gender issue

Even though Australia was a feminist pioneer country, equality between the genders appears to have lost ground. Especially the lack of women in the top decision-making positions that makes the female gender lose ground.

In Denmark, a country which boasts to be among the most equal countries in the world, if you look at the 1,000 largest Danish companies, only 75 of them have a woman at the forefront. That is a democratic problem. Those who have the power, the money and the privileges must reflect the rest of society.

It is time we collectively take responsibility and realise that this issue will not simply solve itself.

Massive documentation and research shows that workplaces systematically favour men and underestimate women’s leadership skills. Much of it happens unconsciously and is deeply rooted in our culture.

This is, however, not just a problem for the women. In The Sustainable Hour, we’ve often hear our guests mentioning that the current climate crisis is a direct result of cynical and ruthlessly greedy decisions made in board rooms of primarily elderly white males.

The other day I sat at a grassroots climate activist meeting. I counted 12 people in the room, including myself. I was the only male. Was it a coincidence – or is there a pattern here which is as clear as it looks?

Carers’ call for carbon freedom

“You may have noticed some of the key players in this movement are girls. The person who started it all is a girl. Two of the three people who got the strikes going in Australia are girls. This empowers me and fills me with courage for the future of girls in leadership.”

→ Sydney Morning Herald – 10 October 2019:
It’s no accident that girls are leading the climate movement

→ SBS – 11 October 2019:
Climate change a bigger danger than sexism and poverty, Australian girls say

As illustrated in the five-minute introduction of The Sustainable Hour no 304, it is becoming increasingly obvious that if we are to nominate a candidate for the role of becoming the world’s “Climate Churchill”, we would be looking at a woman.

With Greta Thunberg spearheading the youth climate movement from Sweden, and most other emerging leaders in that space being women as well, including Alexandria Octavio-Cortez in the USA, and with women in the top of the countries that actually address the climate crisis at a serious level – Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand, Sanna Marin in Finland, Mette Frederiksen in Denmark – could this be a topic we need start talking about much more openly?

At its core, if we were to come to terms with Julian Gribb’s loudly applauded statement in a Q&A-show in 2019, that “women have to lead in every sphere” in order for us to properly deal with the climate emergency, that would also highligt that a very different kind of mindset is required to drag us out of the inaction deadlock our societies have now been in for decades.

We must challenge that it is largely men who rule – and destroy – the world. Let’s kick holes in the glass ceiling and get more women to the top.

→ The Guardian – 6 February 2020:
The eco gender gap: why is saving the planet seen as women’s work?
“From soap to reusable cutlery, green products are overwhelmingly marketed to and bought by women. Does this discourage men from taking responsibility?”

In reference to this particular discussion about gender and climate, there’s some inspiration in what Jem Bendell was saying in this speech – from this cue-point and a few minutes onwards:

The speech is worth listening to in its entire length, but if you are time-poor, just start at the suggested point and hear him out when he talks about mothers and grandmothers and the Police.

Women weighting in on the C40 Summit

Some of the most interesting speeches at the C40 summit in Copenhagen in 2019 were almost all presented by women, including the Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen, who is introduced at around 2:00 min in this recording:

…and FridaysForFuture activist Hilda Flavia Nakabuye from Uganda: (emotionality warning!)

…and extraordinarily the treasured American climate action champion Alexandria Octavio-Cortez:

A new paradigm of climate courage

“Have you noticed the massive shift going on? We no longer talk about climate change as an abstract, future threat. We are in a climate crisis, and some of us have begun to connect it deeply to our lives and deeds. Children go on school strike, some politicians propose serious legislation, newspapers go from ”change” to ”crisis”, professionals quit their traditional careers to work for the climate, and social media becomes a tool for influence, not consumption. Remarkably often, the leading voices in this transition are female. They move beyond the cynicism of smart and strategic communication and politics to embrace personal courage, unquestionable devotion, and empathy as the only way forward. Welcome to a show were we explore how women show the way towards a new paradigm of climate courage and crisis communication.”

→ Climate Action News – 6 November 2019:

“On the topic of sex and the environment, where women seem to be the ones caring, both here and in a group I help admin called Minimal Waste Families Australia. We’ve had many thoughts about it, like men use social media differently, women still have the primary carer role in society etc. However, I’m part of a facegroup group called NEM Watch, which is all about renewable electricity. And just realised it’s male dominated. Just had this moment, ooooh, that’s where they are hiding. And the discussion is such a different style. Really enjoyed reading their stuff.”
~ Lori-Ann Dalton

“For every denier who has posted on my feed recently (thanks men), here’s the upside for businesses, jobs and national economies from those rabid greenies at Bloomberg.”
~ Blair Palese

“Middling, literary white men’s stories limit our collective understanding of the world.”

→ Resilience – 22 October 2019:
Why Women’s Climate Leadership Is Vital
“When unpacking the systems of harm around climate change, we reveal violation upon violation upon violation, like layers around an onion—and a feminist, anti-racist intersectional lens is necessary to understand these interconnected systems of harm.”

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As part of our international #women's week: One of the incredible women involved in driving the Stop Ecocide campaign right now. Jojo Mehta, co-founder Ecological Defence Integrity and the Stop Ecocide campaign . With degrees from Oxford and London Universities and a background in communication, entrepreneurship and on-the-ground environmental activism, Jojo’s natural and versatile advocacy flows equally well at a street protest as in a room full of parliamentarians or business strategists. Her animated clarity is energising and catalytic – it complements a lifelong reputation for “getting things done”. Always uncompromising in what she aims for, she likes nothing better than working to unusual parameters. From blockading a controversial incinerator site by hosting a “sofa party” complete with living-room furniture to putting the entire UK parliament on written legal notice over fracking, she approaches protecting the Earth as an irresistible challenge. With barrister and legal pioneer the late Polly Higgins, Jojo co-founded the non-profit Ecological Defence Integrity (EDI) in 2017 to support the establishment of ecocide as a crime at the International Criminal Court, as well as the public campaign Stop Ecocide to raise awareness and funds for the work. Since Polly’s death in 2019 she has co-ordinated the growing international team engaged in this highly focused mission. “It’s the key missing piece,” she explains. “Once destroying nature is made equivalent to destroying people, the whole picture of humanity’s place on this planet comes into perspective. The reality is that we are part of the ecosystems we’ve been exploiting. Criminalising ecocide simply re-aligns law (and hence human activity) with the reality of our interdependence with the living world. It corrects our distorted framework so that all of life has the possibility to thrive.” . #ecocide #ecocidelaw #climate #climateaction #earthprotectors #earth #law

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Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook talks about men, women and the ability to feel – with Dr Gabrielle Walker

And hey! There’s more…

→ Eco Warrior Princess – 8 February 2020:
8 Female Climate Activists You Need to Know this International Women’s Day
“For this year’s International Women’s Day, let’s take a look at what these champions of climate change have been doing.”

→ Biosphere Protection – 14 February 2020:
Gender-based factors blocking system change – a systemic perspective (draft)
“A common observation in most industrialized societies is that most positions of power or wealth are taken by older, white men. In addition, it seems men tend to show are more dominant, competitive behavior against other men and against women leading to high carbon emissions and consumerism (eg super-yachts, large cars, high-profile jobs including long-distance traveling in highly-paid industrial jobs)”

→ Medium – 12 February 2019:
Toxic masculinity: the unseen killer of the planet
“What do a slab of red meat, a gas-guzzling muscle car and a lumberjack slashing down a tree all have in common? They’re all typical images of manliness that contribute to environmental destruction. Science knows that fossil fuels, livestock farming and farming-related deforestation are leading causes of climate change. But for men, taking action against these activities is often seen as “unmanly”.”

→ Yale Program on Climate Change Communication – 20 November 2018:
Gender Differences in Public Understanding of Climate Change
“Here we explore how views on climate change differ between men and women.”

→ Scientific American – 26 December 2017:
Men Resist Green Behavior as Unmanly
“A surprising reason for resistance to environmental goods and habits.”

→ MenEngage Alliance – April 2016:
Men, Masculinities and Climate Change: A Discussion Paper (PDF)

→ Artists and Climate Change – 11 February 2019:
Celebrating Women – Powered Climate Solutions
“Juxtaposing the International Day for Women & Girls in Science with Drawdown solutions, Persistent Acts considers the vitality of women and girls in the climate conversation, and how the arts can play a role in gender parity.”

→ Artists and Climate Change – 15 October 2018:
Climate Week NYC: When Women Lead

How women had to fight for the right to vote

“I would like to address those who believe the climate change protests are “annoying” or “unnecessary” or that there are “better ways to go about it”.

The article linked below details the suffragette’s deeds and actions in the United Kingdom, leading up to women gaining the right to vote in 1918 (amended in 1928 to include all women regardless of social standing). Women’s groups had been engaging in peaceful protest for decades, with no progress.

Then in 1903 the WSPU decided enough was enough. The next 10 years saw violence and aggression which we today would label “terrorism”.

Window smashing, catapults and missiles, physically injuring members of the public, even attacking Winston Churchill with a horse whip. Women hurled hatchets, set fire to canisters of gun powder, and cut down telegraph wires.

But when we think back on those times, we don’t remember these events. We just remember the cause they fought for. We are thankful that women are no longer silenced politically in these countries. We are thankful for the sacrifices they made for the women of today.

I can never condone violence.

But if you think that “protesting properly” means protest that in no way inconveniences anyone, then you have no idea how political change works.

People are GOING to be inconvenienced.
People are GOING to get annoyed.
Change is GOING to happen.”
~ Gabbi Hodge

→ British Library – 6 February 2018:
Suffragettes, violence and militancy
“Some suffragettes believed that deeds, not words, would convince the government to give women the vote. Fern Riddell assesses the scale of violent direct action used by militant suffragettes, with a focus on events from 1912 to 1914.”

Why governments should prioritise well-being

In 2018, Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand established the network of Wellbeing Economy Governments to challenge the acceptance of GDP as the ultimate measure of a country’s success. In this visionary talk, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon explains the far-reaching implications of a “well-being economy” — which places factors like equal pay, childcare, mental health and access to green space at its heart — and shows how this new focus could help build resolve to confront global challenges.

As the first woman to hold the office of First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is an important progressive and feminist voice in the governance of the United Kingdom.


Birthstrike: Meet The People Choosing Not To Have Kids Because Of Climate Change

Faced with the stark reality of the climate crisis, a growing movement of people are deciding not to have children. We spoke with Blythe Pepino, the founder of Birthstrike in the UK. We also sat down with Meghan Kallman and Josephine Ferorelli of Conceivable Future, a women-led network of Americans who come together to discuss the intersection of climate change and reproductive justice.