As world leaders meet for climate talks this week in Bonn, at the UN Climate Change Conference, they should embrace the tenacity, spirit and energy of women to promote more effective climate actions across the globe.
We will not achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement — nor our goals of ending hunger and poverty and protecting our planet — if we don’t put women up front as the key agents of change.
Although females make up half of the world’s population, we are often pushed to the sidelines in decision-making. But women are poised to be grass-roots fighters for climate protection, since so much of the burden for climate action will now fall on them at local levels. This has become a citizens’ movement.
Much of the work is being done on the ground — in farms, ranches, homesteads, and industries that are impacted by climate change — but needs to continue up to the boardroom and to the places of power where decisions are made, fates are decided, lines are drawn, and deals are brokered. Women have unique approaches that can complement joint efforts to fight climate change in new, innovative, and more sustainable ways.
I think about all the young women and mothers who are facing starvation with the prolonged droughts in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
As a Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP, I have been inspired by women taking the lead around the world, such as Apiyeiw Akwor in Ethiopia, a single mother who, despite changing rainfalls and recurring droughts, doubled her family’s income with new solar-powered irrigation systems and new farming techniques.
Such women are the face of the beginnings of true climate action. Action that goes beyond taking women into account and actually brings them to the table is the only answer for facing climate change head on.
This article was originally published in the Boston Globe.
In her role as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, actor and activist Connie Britton focuses on poverty reduction and women's empowerment. Follow Connie on Twitter: @conniebritton, Instagram: @conniebritton and Facebook: @theconniebritton.
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