Friday, March 6, 2020

28 Posts Commemorating the Seminal Efforts of Female Environmentalists

March 8 is International Women's Day, and this is a day to honor all the women who have contributed to environmental stewardship around the world. However, this year we are forced to acknowledge that women are increasingly being targeted by a growing chorus of misogynistic voices.

In the era of trump sexism is thriving. The despicable abuse hurled at global climate icon Greta Thunberg by world leaders is a deplorable case in point.  The problem extends well beyond world leaders as demonstrated by the U.N. Development Program's Gender Social Norms Index in which nearly 90 percent of respondent indicated that they harbor some type of bias against women.

As explained by Nina Munteanu in a Vancouver Sun article, the reason that conservative men are so negatively disposed towards female environmentalists is because these women threaten their gender identity. She illustrated the link between climate-denial and misogyny by citing an August 2019 article by Martin Gelin which explains that attacks against Greta are "consistent with a growing body of research linking gender reactionaries to climate-denialism."

She points to the anti-feminism of right wing nationalists and the disrespect commonly shown for indigenous Earth defenders.  She also references work by Anshelm and Hultman suggesting that climate skeptics are linked to [toxic] masculinity. She quotes researchers who state that climate science is feminized and derided by the industrial patriarchy. Finally she cites an article in Scientific American titled "Men resist green behavior as unmanly," In this article Brough and Wilkie argue that "women have long surpassed men in the arena of environmental action — across age groups and countries, females tend to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Compared to men, women litter less, recycle more, and leave a smaller carbon footprint." Munteanu concludes, "Time for a paradigm shift. We’re not in the 1950s anymore …"  We could not agree more.

To help counter ignorance and to celebrate the achievements of women, here are 28 posts commemorating their seminal efforts.

Fifty Shades of Greta

Greta Thunberg may be the the world's most famous activist but she is quick to shine the spotlight on the thousands of other activists around the world. Luisa-Marie Neubauer is an activist who is commonly called the German face of the Fridays for Futuremovement. However, Neubauer rejects comparisons with Greta. "We're building a mass-movement and reaching out quite far in our methods of mobilizing and gaining attention. What Greta does is incredibly inspiring but actually relatively far from that," she said.

Many activists have been fighting in the trenches long before Greta came on the scene. Greta is a recent incarnation in a lineage of young environmental advocates that dates back decades. More than a quarter century ago a 12-year-old by the name of Severn Cullis-Suzuki spoke at the plenary session of the Rio Earth Summit. She may have been among the the first to say "we are fighting for our lives" a phrase which has become the battle cry of this generation. Ten years ago, 11-year old Smoan Brianna Fruean founded the Samoan chapter of 350.org after a powerful cyclone devastated her community. At 16, she became the youngest person ever to win the prestigious Commonwealth Youth Award.

Here is a brief introduction to 50 young, mostly female activists that are fighting for the health of our planet and our communities. 

Women are the Key to a More Sustainable Future

The importance of women to the future of our species goes way beyond their procreative power. Female leadership is better leadership and this augurs a better world. Women's Day is an opportunity to advocate for true equality and to share the evidence revealing why women are the more sustainable sex. Empowering them is good for people, the planet and profits. If we want to move forward we need to unambiguously assign blame. Women's rights are human rights and men that deny these rights need to be called out.
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Women are at the Forefront of Historic Change in the US

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.

Women are More Environmentally Friendly

According to a large number of studies, women are greener than men in both their attitudes and their actions. One study shows that women have a greater stake in managing climate change as they are "more likely to lose their lives and otherwise fare worse than men in extreme events from heat waves to hurricanes and tsunamis." According to an international survey by Synovate, women are greener than men. A study published by France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economics shows that women emit less carbon than men. Men emit an average of 39.3 kilograms of carbon per day, women emit an average of 32.3 kilograms of carbon per day.
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Empowering Women is Synonymous with Combating Climate Change

If we want to address climate change around the world and in the developing world in particular we need to see more women in leadership roles. There is good evidence to support the idea that when women lead communities are more sustainable. Climate change is a critical issue for everyone, but it is especially hard on women. Happily women are also an essential part of the solution, not only because they make up half (48.1), but because women tend to be more green in their lifestyle choices and women in the workforce tend to more sustainable. 
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