Today is Blog Action Day, which sees tens of thousands of bloggers take a breather from writing purely about, say, vegan recipes, their day-to-day existences, or, um, feminism, to show how environmental issues are relevant to their readerships.
Actually, I feel like I bang the drum of feminism being connected to the environment whenever I hear a story that even tangentially connects. Not in an ecofeminism way – as Wikipedia puts it, “the social mentality that leads to the domination and oppression of women is directly connected to the social mentality that leads to the abuse of the environment”.
But in a very practical way: women are by far more vulerable to the effects of climate change and other environmental disasters than men.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that men will be able to escape those impacts, but the gender-imbalance in climate change impacts can be explained very simply: poverty. As the Women’s Environment Network points out in its Women’s Manifesto on Climate Change:
70% of the world’s poor, who are far more vulnerable to environmental
damage, are women
85% percent of people who die from climate-induced disasters are
Closer to home, WEN also sets out some statistics on how women in the UK perceive government (in?)action on climate change. The statistics are now a few months old, but an amazing 97% of women did not think the government was doing enough. Another 87% want women to be more involved in setting the UK’s climate change policy, while about the same amount want more involvement in international climate change policy.
Another 79% want more women in British boardrooms – believing this will help get climate change issues at the top of the agenda, while 78% think more women in scientific careers and 74% think more female MPs, will help.
Government should also consider how the poverty-climate change axis impacts on women in this country: WEN points out that there are 1 million more women than men classed as in poverty in the UK. How does that impact climate policies?
Women experiencing poverty will therefore be under much more stress to buy
cheap products, regardless of their environmental cost; financially they will also
find it more difficult to afford swingeing environmental taxation. This suggests the need to make environmental products more affordable and to consider the
impacts on poor women of environmental taxation.
The report concludes: “The women of this country have the will to tackle climate change. What we need now is the way – which is currently made difficult by government inaction. With our concern for the environment, we are your single biggest constituency to the cause and an important part of the solution.”
While I have some slight doubts about the assumption that women will naturally be more inclined to care for the environment (or perhaps that should be rephrased as being less socially-conditioned to disregard it), the fact remains that feminists, like everyone else, can’t and shouldn’t think of the environment as a seperate issue that doesn’t impinge on us. So, what should you do now? Signing up to The Daily Green, or a similar service, for practical steps on how to cut down the amount of pollution you are personally responsible for is a great first step. Cutting down your meat-eating is another good way to go. But you can also join or make a donation to WEN – a number of their initiatives, for example their ‘environmenstral’ campaign, are currently suspended due to lack of funds. Go forth and reduce, reuse, recycle.