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Rural Women and Girls Catalyzing Change in the Climate Crisis

June 7, 2018

By Zachary Slobig - Skoll Foundation

With World Environment Day this week, we’re thinking a lot about the intersection of climate change and injustice, a place where many of our Awardees work daily. Climate change deepens existing structures of inequality, including gender inequality. Limited access to resources, restrictions of rights, and exclusion from decision-making make women and girls more vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet. But, women can also be the strongest agents of change around mitigation and adaptation efforts if allowed to pursue education, control family planning, and allocate household resources.

Family planning and universal education in low- and lower-middle-income countries could result in 59.6 gigatons of emissions reduced by 2050, according to Project Drawdown, the climate solutions coalition builder. Can we reverse climate change without fixing the patriarchy? Absolutely not.

“Women are the holders of knowledge,” said Agnes Leina, Founder and Executive Director of Il’laramatak Community Concerns, a Kenyan NGO addressing the human rights and development concerns of Maasai pastoralist women and girls. “They’re the most affected by climate change, but they’re not involved in the conversations and design processes. We need to involve women in the whole cycle.”

At the recent Skoll World Forum, Leina joined Willy Foote, Founder and CEO of Root Capital, and Wanjira Mathai , Senior Partnership Advisor, Advocacy & Strategy, wPOWER Project in an impassioned conversation at the intersection of climate solutions and gender equity.

“COP 23 achieved gender equality,” said Leina. “But how about the implementation? We need to go to the villages. That’s where everything is happening. Where exactly is the rural women’s voice in the boardroom? Everything about me without me is against me.”

The entire session is worth watching. It was one of our favorites of the 2018 Forum.

Explore Skoll World Forum conversations anytime in our complete video archive.

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