Women, Girls and Climate Justice
Post by Nancy Faulstich, Regeneración Director
As our country reels from the recent extreme actions in the Capitol resulting from centuries of owning class white male domination Regeneración has turned our focus to females.
It’s clearer than ever that women’s leadership - especially leadership of Indigenous women, women of color, and low income women - is essential for ensuring a sustainable future.
Our Climate of Hope forum on March 3 will feature a range of voices and experiences, although we cannot address every issue or represent the experience of every female in a 2 hour event. The networking hour will provide an opportunity for the audience to interact, share stories, and raise additional topics and perspectives.
Before, during and after the forum we invite you to join the conversation - talk, write, post about and uplift the stories of climate impacts on women and girls, and reveal and promote examples of solutions created and led by women.
There is a place for everyone of every background in the growing Climate Justice movement: the greatest movement in human history - to restore and protect our common home, end all oppression and create societies in which all people can thrive in harmony with the natural world.
We don’t need to compete for the “best” idea or the “right” solution. Why don’t we all offer ideas for consideration, see which ones generate interest and excitement and seem right for our respective communities, and then launch bold new initiatives together?
The ideas shared in my blog represent a beginning place for dialogue and discovery as I pose questions and observations. I hope to inspire robust community conversation and additional research and writing over the coming months.
I believe all human qualities and attributes (such as caring, strength, creativity, problem-solving, attractiveness, and so on) are available for all people to develop fully.
However, everyone experiences socialization based on our biological sex and perceived gender starting in-utero.
Some qualities are encouraged in males, and some in females, and yet isn’t the key difference between women and men really just our respective roles in reproduction? It’s clear to me that women and men have far more in common as human beings than there are differences.
To this day, female biology has been used as an excuse for oppression, relegating women to second class status. (The oppression of Trans and intersex people is also extremely vicious. Our society trains us to treat people very differently based on perceived gender, and people who break out of the limiting gender boxes we’re expected to remain in face harsh mistreatment.)
The persistent subordination of women has huge implications for the current climate crisis. Male domination is one of the biggest obstacles to preservation of a livable planet.
Generally speaking, it is evident that women do more low-carbon work - the work of caring for life (bearing and raising children, growing food, feeding people, caring for the young and the elderly, nursing, etc) - and men do more high-carbon work and are responsible for much destruction of life through war, over-production of things, excavation and plundering of the resources of the earth.
And, as a group, females disproportionately experience poverty and thus are under-resourced for dealing with climate impacts.
The gender wage gap persists - work generally performed by females is paid less than work generally performed by males, and females with similar educational backgrounds doing similar types of professional work are typically paid less than males.
In sum, our current society prioritizes endless economic growth by utilizing labor of the masses in the creation of things and industries that kill, destroy, addict and appease people into accepting barely tolerable lives, in order to generate profit for the few.
Short term profit is prioritized over designing societies that ensure well-being of all, and is one direct result of almost universal domination by men.
Women’s knowledge about nurturing and sustaining life, passed down through the generations, is essential for building a movement to reverse global warming.
Knowledge about caring for children, growing and preparing food, building and maintaining relationships, communicating, recognizing the inter-connection of all life forms is badly needed by our leaders at every level of government and in every agency, organization, Board, and other assembly as the world reels from extreme weather, natural disaster upon disaster, and huge rifts between people along lines of oppression.
As the climate changes, how are women experiencing climate impacts?
What are the effect of rising temperatures on uniquely female bodily experiences such as menstruation, cramps, pregnancy, and lactation?
Zika virus, spread by mosquitos and proliferating in a warming world, is a well known example of a disease having a dire effect on pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Forming families: How are women thinking about whether and how to form families given the uncertainty of the future? Bringing a child into the world is always a great leap of faith. In the past, some groups have faced existential threats but never has humanity as a whole faced as great a threat to our species as climate change. (Note: we are excited to partner with CSUMB student researcher Monica Urias on a survey exploring this topic!)
Childrearing: The pandemic has created chaos for families. What will childhood look like as populations experience further disruptions from other new diseases, displacement as areas become unlivable or are hit with huge natural disasters?
Education: The majority of teachers are female, yet, is the educational system designed from female perspectives? We need to rethink how to equip young people for living in a rapidly changing world.
Domestic violence: Higher temperatures increase stress and tempers flare; there will be more domestic violence, which disproportionately targets women.
We call for research into and discussion about the effects of climate impacts on females of every constituency: every ethnicity, religion, age, sexual identity, on females with disabilities or chronic illnesses,; on female farmworkers, athletes, lawmakers, caregivers, artists, doctors, construction workers and other professions, on mothers, daughters and grandmothers.
Exploring further, how are trans women and others who resist proscribed gender roles in society experiencing the changing climate? Are their unique effects experienced by men, in terms of sperm count or other male bodily experiences?
All human life takes place within a climate which has changed. Therefore all human experience is being affected by the changing climate. Telling our stories and providing testimony about how we are being personally affected by climate impacts is a necessary element to prepare for designing appropriate and all-encompassing responses to this crisis.
As we move forward, may we engage in ongoing open dialogue and creative imagining. Together let us design a Just Transition off fossil fuels that is inclusive and respectful of everyone as we build a movement in which everyone belongs.