Friday, January 11, 2019

Women are at the Forefront of Historic Change

Women are claiming their rightful place in the halls of political power and they are changing the world in the process. Nowhere is this more evident than in the blue wave that solidly rebuked the GOP's leadership in the US midterm elections of 2018.

In recent years women are making their voices heard with unprecedented vigor and in unprecedented numbers. The day after Trump was inaugurated women staged the single largest day of protest in US history. They came out again to demonstrate against Trump's first year in office with a day of national protest. Almost 2.5 million people came out for the second annual Women’s March to fight for women’s rights, resist Trump and denounce the Republican agenda. At these demonstrations they carried signs like "grab him by the midterms" and that is precisely what they proceeded to do.

A record number of women Democrats won seats in the 116th Congress (2019–2021). There are now a total of 102 women in the House of Representatives, 89 of which are Democrats (only 13 are Republicans a number which has not changed in over a decade). Led by women and people of color Democrats have made the Congress far more representative. Here are three highlights:
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), defeated a 10-term incumbent in the June primary and defeated her Republican opponent in November to become the first Latina to represent the Bronx and Queens in the House.
  • Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) is Massachusetts’ first black woman member of Congress. She represents one of the most unequal districts in the country, and brings the needs and concerns of her district to Congress.
  • Deb Haaland (NM-01) hails from New Mexico and is the first indigenous woman in Congress. She will fight to protect underrepresented communities and lend her voice to issues plaguing her community.
Women are at the forefront of a monumental, historic change and not just in the US. This is a trend that is occurring in many parts of the world including some of the most unlikely places. In Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zewde has become the country's first female President and women make up half of the cabinet of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The first female Supreme Court chief in Ethiopia's history was recently sworn in and human rights lawyer Meaza Ashenafi is but one of a number of women who have been appointed to top positions in the Ethiopian government.

There is an unprecedented level of interest in political life from women and this both enriches and preserves democracy. The involvement of women is important because they represent half of the population and their inclusion makes democracy more representative. It is also important because women have shown themselves to be the superior sex on a range of social and environmental justice issues.

Women are naturally predisposed to have a better understanding of key issues as they are disproportionately impacted by social injustice, environmental degradation and climate change. They are the primary caretakers of children who are the most vulnerable and they are the primary food providers and farmers in low income countries.

While women are attaining unparalleled power they still have a long way to go.  Helping them to go further is both a smart and responsible investment in our future. As reported by Grist, environmentalist and author Katharine Wilkinson believes that with a little help women farmers could prevent 2 billion tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere between now and 2050.

"Support women smallholders, realize higher yields, avoid deforestation, and sustain the life-giving power of forests," Wilkinson said at TEDWomen.

Wilkinson is also a champion of giving women reproductive control. She and her team at Project Drawdown predict that by mid-century, improving gender equality could result in 1 billion fewer people making demands on the Earth's limited resources.

"Gender equity is on par with wind turbines and solar panels and forests...This does not mean women and girls are responsible for fixing everything." Wilkinson said, adding "but we probably will."

Related
Climate Change is a Women's Issue and so is the Clean Economy
Women are Powering Solar in the Developing World: Five Success Stories
Women are the Key to a More Sustainable Future
10 Women at the Forefront of Environmentalism and Sustainability
100 Inspirational Female Environmentalists
20 Inspiring Posts to Celebrate Women's Day
Indigenous Women Struggling with Climate Change and Environmental Degradation
Empowering Women is Synonymous with Combating Climate Change

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