Recognising women’s contributions and experiences on International Women’s Day for a just transition

By Sara Mariza Vryonidi

As the world deals with the effects of climate crisis, it is essential to remember that it is not just an environmental issue. It is also a social justice issue, potentially widening existing inequalities between different groups of people.

One group that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate crisis is women. Women go through climate-related disasters, such as floods, droughts and storms, as they are typically responsible for securing food, water and other resources for their families. In addition, women are more likely to be affected by the impacts of the climate crisis on their health, as they may have limited access to healthcare and other resources.

Despite the disproportionate impact of the crisis on women, they are often excluded from decision-making processes related to climate action. This is a problem not only because it perpetuates gender inequality but also because it leads to less effective and less inclusive climate policies.

There is a clear connection between the climate crisis and other global crises, including poverty, inequality and conflict. These crises are all interlinked, and they often exacerbate one another. For example, climate change can increase poverty, displacement, social instability and conflict. At the same time, gender inequality is also linked to these global crises, as women and girls are often the most vulnerable to their effects, as mentioned above. Collective action is needed to address these issues in a comprehensive and intersectional manner.

Including women in climate action is crucial for several reasons. First, women have a unique perspective on climate change challenges and opportunities based on their lived experiences. This perspective can help to ensure that climate policies are more responsive to the needs of all members of society.

Second, women are crucial in driving the transition to a low-carbon economy. Women are often responsible for managing natural resources, such as forests and water, and they are also key players in sectors such as agriculture and renewable energy. By involving women in designing and implementing climate policies, we can rely on their expertise and experience and ensure that the transition to a sustainable future is more inclusive and equitable.

Third, including women in climate action can help to promote gender equality and empower women. Women involved in climate action can often develop new skills and networks and may also have more opportunities to participate in decision-making processes in other areas of their lives.

So, what can we do to ensure women are included in climate action? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ensure that women are represented in decision-making bodies related to climate action, such as national climate change commissions or local community groups.
  • Provide training and capacity-building opportunities for women in areas related to adaptation to the climate crisis, such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and natural resource management.
  • Encourage women’s participation: creating spaces and opportunities for women to participate in climate action, such as leadership roles, decision-making processes, and community engagement.
  • Address gender-based violence and discrimination: addressing the root causes of gender-based violence and discrimination, including cultural norms, social attitudes, and legal barriers, that prevent women’s participation in climate action.
  • Create platforms for women to share their experiences and ideas about climate action, such as community meetings or online forums.

On International Women’s Day, it is essential to recognise and celebrate the diversity of experiences and identities that make up the global community of people who identify as women that face unique challenges and forms of discrimination.

Women have made significant contributions to society throughout history, often in the face of discrimination and inequality. However, it is also essential to acknowledge that not all women experience the same privilege or oppression. Women from marginalised communities may face additional barriers and challenges, and it is necessary to recognise their experiences and work towards greater inclusivity and intersectionality in the feminist movement. By celebrating all people who identify as women on Women’s Day, we can recognise and honour the diversity of experiences and contributions that make up womanhood.

Including women in climate action is not just a matter of social justice – it is also crucial for the effectiveness and inclusivity of climate policies. By recognising and addressing the unique challenges and opportunities that women face in the context of climate crisis, we can ensure that the transition to a sustainable future is more equitable, resilient and just for all.

Sara Mariza Vryonidi is a project coordinator at Friends of the Earth Cyprus and a research associate at the Sustainable Energy Laboratory of the Cyprus University of Technology