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Women are agents of change, empower them to fight climate crisis

Under this perspective, it is clear that women are core players in this all-encompassing crusade to build a sustainable future for all.



By Habiba Al Mar'ashi

Published: Tue 24 Sep 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 24 Sep 2019, 10:26 PM

Transitioning to a green economy to achieve sustainable development is a tall order that requires consistent cooperation of every segment of society. The complex but interconnected issues of social inequality, environmental degradation, and economic instability remain a major threat to progress and quality living. Everyone has a role to play to fast-track the green economy movement worldwide. 
Under this perspective, it is clear that women are core players in this all-encompassing crusade to build a sustainable future for all. As active contributors to the economy and society as a whole, women are crucial to ensuring the growth of a green economy.
Women and girls comprise 51 per cent of humanity, and experts agree that they are more likely to bear the brunt of climate change. This makes their ideas and perspectives vital. Comprehensive green and sustainable solutions should therefore require women's active participation as well.  
The females are fully aware of this role. It is not surprising to see women leading many fights against climate change globally and calling for protection of the environment and natural resources.
Their unique leadership and skills, non-traditional approach to a myriad issues, and great influence within families - the core of any society - are vital to pushing common green economy goals, increasing demand for green products and services, and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions among others. They can help push those in power to prioritise climate change and take immediate, long-lasting action addressing this threat. 
Several women over the centuries have led charge to demand more action to combat climate change. American scientist Eunice Newton Foote, the first woman in climate science, was one of the trailblazers. In 1856, Foote discovered the cause of global warming by noting the impact of changes in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on the earth's temperature.
Indian environmentalist and political activist Sunita Narain has also been making waves in the sustainable development department. Narain, the Director General of the Centre for Science and Environment, has helped raise public consciousness about the need for sustainable development.
Hannah Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice-President of the Innovation Accelerator of Nike, has been named one of the top professionals shaping the fashion industry. She's actively changing the way companies view sustainability and social responsibility.
One of youngest is perhaps Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. The 16-year-old has managed to mobilise a whole generation into demanding climate action by calling for better accountability from top polluters and governments. 
These are just a few who have significantly contributed to the sustainability advocacy but more women climate leaders are still needed to help accelerate the goal. Policy and decision makers in both the government and private sectors should do their part to empower women and offer them vital support to ensure that they are given equal access to opportunities. 
A number of challenges such as gender inequality remain, hindering them from maximising their potentials to lead and contribute to the ultimate goal of sustainable development.
In the midst of the continuous threat of climate change, key policies and measures should also be passed allowing and empowering women to play a bigger role in every nation's efforts to shift to a green economy and build a better world for all. The World Green Economy Summit 2019 in October in Dubai will carry this conversation forward.
- Habiba Al Mar'ashi is the Co-Founder and Chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group (EEG)


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