Female Forward
Three ways to build gender equal role in taking care of the environment

#FemaleForward Asia Campaign
Five Female Forward Ambassadors from Southeast Asia © FNF South East and East Asia

In many parts of the world, women assume the role of primary caregivers in families and communities. With climate change comes difficulties in performing their tasks, and makes them more vulnerable to extreme weather events. The United Nations reports that 80% of those affected by climate change are women.

The eco gender gap should be addressed to ensure that both male and female take on the responsibility in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Within the environmental movement, women have become more popular and influential than ever before. Women are said to be more willing to adopt environment behaviors than men, and are more conscious about environment-friendly products.

#FemaleForward International Ambassador from Indonesia, Vania Santoso
#FemaleForward International Ambassador from Indonesia, Vania Santoso © FNF South East and East Asia

How can more people including men get involved in caring for the environment?

1. Solve the disparity of information and build capacity especially for young people 

It is important to ensure open and equal opportunity for meaningful participation in environmental issues, whether in management or consumption. The availability of information can address this, and where technology can bridge the gap. Studies on the impact of climate change should be accessible to many more people so that they realize that climate change affects all, and therefore everyone should act on it.

Education and capacity building are critical for environmental sustainability, especially for the young generation who will be living with the ever-increasing consequences of global warming.

2. Take the lead, walk the talk, and collaborate

A unique leadership trait that women possess is their empathy that allows them to make better judgments. This also enables them to assume multi-roles, and start collaborative initiatives across gender and cross-cutting sectors. Cooperation is essential in addressing climate change because the sooner everybody works together, the faster communities can come up with viable solutions.

Gender-inclusivity applies to taking care of the environment. It is not merely a feminine role. Being responsible and making “green” choices are men’s obligations, too.

3. Be creative and innovative

Climate change is also an opportunity to find new ways of thinking. Women are deemed to be more resourceful, which regard them as more reliable when it comes to sustainability work. But recycling and upcycling are not effeminate chores. They are an exercise of creativity – transforming disregarded materials into something more useful is non-technological innovation that men should also get into.

Vania Santoso, a young eco-warrior, put up an upcycling socioentrepreneurial business in 2014 that has since provided livelihood to communities. She turns waste cement bags into leather-like products suitable for women and men. This is her contribution to environmental protection and to building a gender equal and sustainable world. Read her story.