Posts Tagged ‘women’

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on The Fight for Reproductive Health Care Is a Fight for Human Rights

By: Kelley Dennings

ATT: “The Fight for Reproductive Health Care Is a Fight for Human Rights” by Kelley Dennings originally appeared as an essay in the online version of Ms. Magazine. The original version can be found here. This blog is being re-shared with the DC EcoWomen community with permission from Ms. Magazine.

I began using contraception as a high schooler in small-town Nebraska, when I went on birth control for irregular periods and acne. By the time I had a sex life, in college, I had access to health care through the university. Its clinic offered affordable contraception but no contraceptive counseling. 

It wasn’t until I was in my 30s, when I found a compassionate and responsive health care provider, that I learned about other family planning options: IUDs, diaphragms, patches and shots. Before that, I thought the pill or condoms were my only options. 

These days it may be easier to find information on the type of contraception that’s best for you, but the battle for equitable reproductive health care is far from over.

Reproductive Freedom Requires Contraception

On Nov. 10, the Supreme Court once again heard arguments challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, including guaranteed access to contraception. Recently confirmed justice Amy Coney Barrett has publicly criticized the ACA—though it provides access to affordable contraception and lifesaving health care coverage to 20 million Americans. Her opinion could decide the law’s fate.

This attack on contraception coverage is an attack on reproductive freedom—an unpopular one. A recent nationally representative survey by the Center for Biological Diversity (where I work) found that 80 percent of respondents agree that all types of birth control should be legal, free and easily accessible.

Free contraception would have been a blessing when I was in college—just as it is today for students who are supported by the no-cost contraception coverage of the ACA. When it’s not, low-income and marginalized communities suffer the most due to systemic racism, poverty and sexism.

Black women have greater difficulty getting contraception and face greater pregnancy risks associated with climate change. They also experience worse pregnancy outcomes due to inadequate health care access and other economic and social pressures caused by systemic racism. Black communities disproportionately experience gaps in appropriate reproductive health care and exposure to toxic pollution.

In Cancer Alley, in southern Louisiana, residents not only suffer from higher rates of cancer from toxic chemical air pollution, but per capita COVID-19 death rates are higher too. Unfortunately these areas also have an unmet need for health care providers. 

Overall 19 million people are in need of publicly funded contraception, and 95 percent of them live in areas that lack health centers offering a full range of contraceptive methods. These are known as contraceptive deserts.

The 2020 Election

Health care has always been of utmost importance to voters, and the 2020 election was no different. As Americans cast their votes among a raging pandemic, COVID-19 job losses meant that an estimated 4 million women are facing the loss of  their employer-sponsored insurance, affecting nearly one-in-10 women who obtain sexual and reproductive health care.

Abortion ballot measures in Colorado and Louisiana show the divide on the issue. Colorado, one of seven states that currently doesn’t prohibit abortion at any point during a pregnancy, struck down a measure that would nearly have banned all abortion measures after 22 weeks of gestation, the stage at which proponents argue a fetus could survive outside the womb.

On the other hand, Louisiana joined Alabama, West Virginia and Tennessee in approving a constitutional amendment expressing that those states offer no protection for the right to an abortion, meaning it will be difficult to keep abortion legal in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned. 

Continued gridlock in Congress and the potential alteration or repeal of the ACA next year by the Supreme Court could leave more people vulnerable. Our current members of Congress, who have devised no health care backup plan if the ACA is rescinded, are out of touch with the millions of Americans struggling even more because of the pandemic.

Biden Administration Offers Reason for Hope

Under a Biden presidency, there’s good reason to believe, reproductive health care will once again be treated as a human right.

One of the first things President-Elect Biden will most likely do is rescind the Mexico City Policy, also referred to as the global gag rule, which 70 percent of Americans favor ending. This policy—which denies U.S. funding to health clinics around the world that provide information or services about legal abortion—has been a political football since the Reagan administration, with Democratic presidents rescinding it only to have every Republican president reinstate it.

But President Trump expanded this policy further than ever before by prohibiting any foreign nongovernmental organizations from receiving U.S. global health assistance if they provide information, referrals or services for legal abortion or advocate for the legalization of abortion in their country.

This harmful policy undermines access to contraception, HIV/AIDS services and maternal health care, contributing to more unintended pregnancies and more unsafe abortions. Supporting international family planning and reproductive health programs is essential to empowering women and improving the health and lives of millions of people.

Domestically Biden could reverse the Trump administration’s Title X rule, which undermines the Title X program by promoting natural family planning over other contraceptive methods. It emphasizes discredited abstinence-only messages among adolescents and blocks funding for clinics that provide, refer or discuss abortion services.

Under this “domestic gag rule,” reproductive health care services in low-income communities across the country have decreased by half. By reinstating a comprehensive Title X program, President Biden could once again increase the availability of quality health services for those who need it.

Reproductive Health and the Environment

President-Elect Biden has indicated he plans to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, a global effort to tackle climate change. According to a 2018 United Nations report, climate change and its effects disproportionately affect women globally, as many are highly dependent on local natural resources.

While no one is immune to climate change, women are among the most vulnerable, since they’re more likely to become victims of scarcity, drought, food insecurity and increased disease. Without appropriate health care access and autonomy over one’s reproductive future, educational and economic opportunities can become limited. The climate crisis only exacerbates the gender divide.  

My experience accessing contraception informs my fight to ensure others have access to contraception today and in the future. Until we start treating health care as a human right, we’ll continue to struggle to achieve equality and reproductive freedom.

***

Kelley Dennings (@kdennings) is a campaigner with the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. She holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from N.C. State and a master’s degree in public health from the University of South Florida. She is certified in project management, public health, social marketing, and family planning counseling. At the Center she develops and executes campaigns focused on rights-based solutions from voluntary family planning to the solidarity economy to address how the effects of population pressure and inequitable consumption impact our environment.  Before joining the Center, she worked in waste reduction and forest conservation.

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on A Shared Struggle: The Parallels Between the Plight of Women and that of Mother Earth

By Ngozika Egbuonu, M.A., M.S.

“In the end, all the struggles have the same objective: the defense of life. That is the most important, no matter where we are or what the specific goal of each fight is.” — Ana Sandoval, land defender and co-founder of Communities in Peaceful Resistance “La Puya”, working to resist dangerous mining megaprojects in her community in Guatemala.

You’ve probably seen them: angry video clips of men and women offended by public breastfeeding, endless memes insinuating women in leadership positions are “angry,” “bossy,” or “irrational,” or even my personal favorite, the growing rise of the men’s rights movement, which is built on the premise that men are losing power and status because of feminism. Each of these examples represent aspects of the societal challenges women face daily for simply trying to live their lives or improve the status of them. And the same can be said for our planet’s personified form: Mother Earth. And because she has no earthly voice (pun intended), those who do advocate on her behalf are met with virtually the same ire as feminists and women’s equity advocates and activists. 

Now, why is that?

The answer lies in our inherent femininity. You see, much in the same way environmental advocates and activists struggle to defend conservation and reduce pollution, women fighting to protect themselves and future generations are accused of unfounded or dramatized criticisms. This insistence that climate change is either unreal or being exaggerated by overdramatic environmentalists virtually mirrors the anti-feminine statements being expressed publicly. Let’s take a look at a few quotes about climate change and anti-feminism to try and literally illustrate this point.

  • “We must ask whether these Obama administration policies are worth the lost jobs, lower take-home pay, higher gas and electricity prices, and so on.”—  Sen. John Boozman 
  • “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” — Pat Robertson
  • “Get rid of some of these crazy regulations that Obamacare puts in … such as a 62-year-old male having to have pregnancy insurance.” — Iowa Rep. Rod Blum

The above statements highlight attempts to equate progressive environmental and gender equity policy changes to attacks on others’ livelihoods and/or cultural traditions. In addition to being frustratingly wrong, these attacks use exaggerated or misinformed stories to distract individuals from critically thinking about legislation or actions that could help improve the quality of life for everyone.  

Interestingly enough, researchers at both the United Nations and Oxfam America found that women are more likely to bear the burden of climate change. In America, we know that is the case because economically disadvantaged people are impacted more severely when natural disasters happen and women make up roughly 70 percent of individuals living below the poverty line. A similar case can be found abroad as Voré Gana Seck, executive director of Green Senegal and president of the international nongovernmental coalition Counsel des ONG d’Appui au Developpment notes, “Climate change affects women because they are usually the main food producers of crops like rice, millet, vegetables. Because of no rain, climate change affects them. And girls have to drop out of school because they need to start working for their families.” This reality must force all of us to confront the need for achieving both gender equality and turning back the dial on climate change immediately. It seems that in accomplishing one, we are helping increase the impact of the other and ultimately making the entire world better for it.

These realizations are ultimately why I believe every attempt to devalue Mother Earth’s importance in our survival and existence is a subliminal attack on womanhood. Think of the female womb and its importance in carrying a child to birth. Or even the sustenance her body provides from the womb to toddlerhood and beyond. When people devalue mothers and the incredible effort it takes to carry, birth, and/or raise a child, such as in denying women adequate maternity leave or shaming women for having children (as if to imply that in doing so, they cannot function or be as effective in their careers or positions), they are disrespecting the miracle of life that brought each and every one of us into this world. 

Fortunately, there are great examples of how gender inequality has tried but failed to hinder a woman’s success, with my favorite being the life story of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). Despite being one of the top students in her class at nearly every institution she stepped foot in, RBG experienced difficulty finding work as a direct result of her gender. This personal connection to gender-based discrimination had to have stirred something deep within RBG. That something I think also played a major part in some of her most treasured opinions. 

Recently, Center for Progressive Reform’s (CPR) President, Rob Verchick and several of his colleagues and CPR Board Members recounted their favorite RBG legal decisions and stories. Each person’s testimony beautifully demonstrates why I believe RBG was so adept in understanding the importance of gender equity, as well as the environmental justice both Mother Earth and so many of her inhabitants so desperately need and deserve. RBG could read through the language, science, and noise to understand the most crucial point at the center of the legal battles she decided upon: the defense of life.

One of the subjects that bothers me the most when I hear men or even other women complain about feminism and the fight for gender equality is the gender pay gap. The fact that women still have to fight for equal pay when doing the exact same job as their male counterparts should be enough to upset any decent person. Primarily because gender pay inequality not only hurts the women being unfairly paid, it hurts anyone else who relies on her income for stability or support. 

My first thought immediately goes to single mothers or even women, like RBG, who have to take on the role of both parents due to a crisis (or several) or sudden onset of illness, as was in RBG’s case when she had to be the foundation for her family during her husband’s first battle with cancer. Imagine the feeling of already struggling on one paycheck, but then on top of that, you aren’t even getting the full paycheck owed for the work you’ve done, and the only reason for that discrepancy in pay is your gender? For me, this example is one of the clearest ways of explaining the importance of gender equality to folks who still don’t seem to get it. 

Gender equality is not about putting men down, creating a narrative of male inferiority or trying to attack American cultural norms. In fact, I would argue that it is attempting to do the opposite. Gender equality, much like racial equality and equity, is helping to affirm each individual’s strength and talent by challenging all of us to work harder and be better. Championing gender equality is forcing us to update what we think of as the “American way” of doing things. Maybe the American way is leading by example and properly appreciating the talents that both men and women bring to life’s table. As the eloquent Eleanor Roosevelt stated, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” For those of you who still view the fight for gender equality as an attack on masculinity and manhood, I encourage you to consider looking at it as a way for men and women to recognize that there is always room for growth and trying things a different way. In doing so, we can begin finding new opportunities to do more and be more than we are today. 

I think it is also worth noting the importance of adequately appreciating and acknowledging the work and experiences of all women. From child rearing to practicing law or medicine, teaching to nursing, each and every woman’s positively impactful efforts must be celebrated and valued for both its short term and far-reaching implications. 

In a much similar way, we must celebrate and value our Mother Earth for both her immediate and future contributions to all of our lives. From her diverse terrains to bountiful natural resources, from her unique native flora and fauna to her resilience in the face of natural and human-made disasters, Mother Earth has shown us all more than enough strength and beauty. Unfortunately, for those wonders to be shared and appreciated generations beyond our own, we all have to come to a collective agreement: we must listen to the science. 

Just as you don’t want me attempting to stand in for an eye surgeon with my limited medical experience and squeamishness around anything blood related,  we don’t want politicians or climate deniers to drown out the conversation when the evidence and the research to prove climate change exists are all available. 

We are at a crossroads, friends. Climate change is happening and for many of us in the DC Metro area, you should be thinking more about how this will impact all of our ways of life. Where will you purchase groceries? Will the groceries you want be available and at an affordable price? Think about the food banks and food pantries, the farmers and farm workers. How does climate denial impact them? If science doesn’t resonate with you, then listen to the people already being impacted. We all have a part to play to save our communities and this planet. I hope you’ll join me and my fellow colleagues at DC EcoWomen by sharing the stories of climate change happening in our local and regional communities, as well as voting for policies that affirm your commitment to environmental advocacy and stewardship. 

As the lead pastor of the church I attend, National Community Church (based right here in DC), Dr. Mark Batterson once said, “I reserve the right to get smarter.” With everything being thrown at us right now with regards to the election, climate change, and the fight for social justice both here and abroad, I think it’s safe to agree that we could all benefit from getting smarter, and doing so fast. 

***

Ngozika Egbuonu is a professional fundraiser and content creator with more than ten years of experience working in communications roles for a variety of industries. Currently, she lives in Upper Marlboro with her husband, Gerald, and serves as the Community Engagement Manager at Network for Good. Ngozika is passionate about uplifting female voices, achieving racial equity, and fighting climate change. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking trails throughout the DMV or posting tons of photos of her new bunny, Thurgood.

posted by | on , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Celebrate women and the environment this month

By Kelley Dennings

In the face of the climate crisis, young people are starting to question whether they should have kids. Many are worrying about the planet their children would inherit, and what adding to the population would do to our already-suffering environment.

Research predicts one million species could go extinct in the coming decades due to climate change, habitat loss and other human-related pressures. Meanwhile reproductive rights face a barrage of attacks at the state and federal level.

Frankly, there’s a lot to worry about. But we also have a lot that gives us hope. In March, we commemorate women who have come before us through Women’s History Month and we celebrate International Women’s Day.

The start of Women’s History Month in 1981 harkens back to a time of congressional compromise. In 1981, there were only 23 women in Congress – compared to 127 today — and fewer women in the workforce overall.

The U.S. fertility rate in 1981 is nearly identical to now. And although women have more autonomy in many ways, access to family planning is still a political chess piece.

International Women’s Day, held on March 8 annually, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. But it’s more than a celebration – it’s a call to action.

This year’s theme, #EachforEqual, is drawn from a notion of “collective individualism.” It highlights how individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society. 

The intersection between individual family planning decisions and reproductive healthcare policies is the perfect example of how personal and collective action are intertwined. And the climate and extinction crises are bringing renewed attention to the effect of our growing population on the planet. 

While individuals are at the heart of reproductive rights and justice, there are systems in place that determine whether people have access to the knowledge and healthcare they need. That’s why it’s frustrating when individual and systematic change are pitted against one another. These aren’t “either/or” issues.  Our collective individualism can benefit everyone.

Not only do individuals need to feel comfortable discussing their family planning wishes with partners and health care providers, systems such as comprehensive sex education, to support knowledgeable discussions, and universal access to all forms of contraception, are equally important. 

Progress has been made in understanding how individual family planning, reproductive rights and the environment work together, but more could be done. 

The intersectional work around population is grounded in human rights, reproductive rights and social justice. Every individual should have access to contraception and education to plan if and when they want to have children to help prevent unintended pregnancies, improve the lives of families and protect the environment. 

To achieve that, activists must cross the political aisle, partner with family planning groups and bring justice for all into the fold.

Kelley Dennings moved to Washington, D.C. ten years ago and has worked with three environmental non-profits. She currently works at the Center for Biological Diversity where she highlights how population growth and overconsumption affect habitat and wildlife. She advocates for rights-based solutions to these problems such as voluntary family planning.

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Eight Black Women who have impacted the environmental movement in Washington, D.C.

By Dajah Massey

In recognition of Black History Month, DC EcoWomen celebrates the following eight women for their accomplishments in environmental spaces, their advocacy for the African American community, and their continued impact in the Washington, D.C. area.

Josephine Butler

Josephine Butler confronts DC Mayor Marion Barry, 1978 – photo and caption from https://washingtonparks.net/josephine-butler/

Josephine Butler was born in 1920 in Maryland. She was the daughter of sharecroppers and granddaughter of slaves. Butler moved to D.C. for medical treatment and then became a community leader, environmental activist, and social change agent in the District. Butler started America’s first union of black female laundry workers and was a major contributor to the desegregation of schools. Butler helped to transform Malcolm X Park, also known as Meridian Hill Park, from one of the most dangerous parks in D.C. to a beautiful oasis by planting trees, providing nighttime neighborhood watches, and hosting community education events. 

In a time when environmentalism was not popular, Butler served as a community health educator for the American Lung Association in D.C. and taught thousands of children about the effects of air pollution. In 1995, she served on the D.C. Coordinating Committee for the International Women’s Year. Butler also became a representative on the Mayor’s Health Planning Advisory Committee and served on the D.C. Human Rights Commission. Today the Josephine Butler Parks Center, which overlooks Meridian Hill Park, stands in her honor. 

Click here to learn more about Butler. 

Rue Mapp

Photo from https://outdoorafro.com/team/

Rue Mapp is the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit organization that connects African Americans with outdoor experiences and aims to change the narrative of who engages in the outdoors. Outdoor Afro has offices in Washington D.C. and Oakland, California. The organization has selected and trained 80 national volunteers and created leadership teams in 30 states – building a powerful network to nurture a community of black outdoor enthusiasts. Mapp first launched Outdoor Afro as a blog in 2009. The organization now has national sponsors and worldwide recognition. Mapp serves on several conservation boards, was part of the team that launched Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, and was appointed program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment.  She also organized the first all-Black U.S. expedition team to climb Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest freestanding peak. Her proudest accomplishment is being a mother of three. 

Brittany Leavitt

Photo from https://www.britleavitt.com/

Brittany Leavitt is a D.C. influencer — not the social media type, but a real-life changemaker. Leavitt is influencing her community and shaping the minds of D.C.’s youth by teaching preschoolers at the Smithsonian Museum about the natural world. She has also partnered with the North Face and the Girl Scouts to create a new adventure badge that young girls can earn. In addition to mentorship, she is a REI instructor and leads climbing, backpacking, and hiking classes. Her purpose is to build spaces for Blacks, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to enjoy the outdoors. Brittany was part of the Outdoor Afro first all-black climbing group to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Through her variety of partnerships, she is diversifying the climbing community. 

Kari Fulton

Photo from https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4693971/user-clip-climate-change-protest

Kari Fulton may be young, but her accomplishments and contributions to the environmental movement are not adolescent. She co-founded the Loving Our City, Loving Ourselves (LOCLOS) campus and community initiative, to build stronger campus and community solidarity on issues of concern in the Washington, D.C. area. She served as the Energy Action Coalition Campus Climate Challenge Coordinator for the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative. She supported and trained hundreds of young people at more than 50 universities, and has become a pioneer organizer working to build up the youth climate movement amongst young people of color, in particular, students at historically black colleges and universities. She is currently a Class of 2020 National Urban Fellow at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, and a Master of Public Management candidate, as well as a Policy Fellow with the Climate Justice Alliance. 

Fulton said: “My hope was for people of color and low-income individuals to get information that will help them take advantage of the growing green movement so that they are not left behind economically or environmentally.” 

 

Lisa Perez Jackson

 Photo from https://archive.epa.gov/epa/aboutepa/administrator-lisa-p-jackson-2009-2013.html

Lisa Perez Jackson is a Princeton University alumnus and a chemical engineer who served as the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2009 to 2013. She is the first African American to have held that position.  According to the EPA, she “outlined principles to modernize our nation’s 30-year-old chemical management laws, called for unprecedented innovation in drinking water protection efforts, and announced tough standards to clean the air we breathe.” During her time with the EPA, she improved environmental regulation policies and supported communities that were historically underrepresented in environmental initiatives such as low-income areas and vulnerable age groups. Today, Jackson works as Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. Each day, she strives to transform Apple into a more environmentally conscious company. 

Dr. Adrienne Hollis

Photo from https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/adrienne-hollis

Dr. Adrienne Hollis has always been an academic with a passion for the environment. She holds a doctorate degree in biomedical sciences and a law degree with a concentration in environmental law. Dr. Hollis worked on environmental issues in her postdoctoral studies at the Harvard School of Public Health, was employed as a Supervisory Environmental Health Scientist and Toxicologist (Section Chief) at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, worked as a Project Attorney at Earthjustice, a premier non-profit public interest law firm, and was the Director of Federal Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, in their Washington, D.C. office. Her positions have allowed her to make great contributions and changes within various environmental fields. Today, Dr. Hollis is the Senior Climate Justice and Health Scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). She leads the development, design, and implementation of methods for accessing and documenting the health impacts of climate change on communities of color and other traditionally disenfranchised groups. 

Jacqueline Patterson

Photo from https://collegian.com/2016/09/jacqueline-patterson-speaks-about-environmental-injustice-at-diversity-symposium/

As Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Environmental and Climate Justice program, Jacqueline Patterson helps the organization achieve its three major goals: to reduce harmful emissions, particularly greenhouse gases, advance energy efficiency and clean energy, and strengthen community resilience and livability. Patterson has worked as a researcher, program manager, coordinator, advocate and activist for women’s rights, violence against women, HIV&AIDS, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice.

Leslie G. Fields, Esq.

 Photo from https://www.sierraclub.org/environmental-justice/staff

Leslie Fields, Esq. is another D.C. environmental powerhouse serving multiple organizations to bring environmental improvement and social justice to our nation. Fields is a graduate of Cornell University and the Georgetown University Law Center and the current senior director of Environmental Justice and Healthy Communities for the Sierra Club. She is the former international director of Friends of the Earth-US in Washington, D.C. and is currently an adjunct law professor at Howard University School of Law. Fields serves as a Commissioner on the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies’ Commission to Engage African Americans on Energy, Climate and the Environment. In a recent interview with The Trouble, Fields said: “What we’re trying to do is work with all kinds of communities to push reducing carbon emissions and remedying in an equitable way, not just marketing solutions that are going to leave communities of color behind. We’ve got all kinds of problems, food justice issues, gentrification—all the stuff in this direct line. We can’t create any kind of solution without dealing with the legacy pollution.”  

Dajah Massey is an environmental engineer and STEM advocate who is passionate about improving our environment and informing underrepresented communities about career options within engineering and STEM fields.  She is also involved with brand management, print modeling, and women empowerment initiatives. 

posted by | on , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Book Review: Equality for Women = Prosperity for All

By Olivia Oudinot

“What walks with four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening is no longer just “man,” even generically. For we need both arms to be strong if we are to crawl; we need both legs to be of equal length and strength if we are to walk and to run. And in old age we all need the additional support of society, whether we are men or women.”

Equality for Women = Prosperity for All, written by Augusto López-Claros and Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, is an underrated gem. Goodreads shows it’s been read by 28 people – compare that to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, which has been read by 402,399 people (Goodreads has about 90 million members). 

Created with RNI Films app. Preset ‘Fuji Astia 100F’

My aim is to spread this powerful treatise throughout the D.C. community – and hopefully beyond.

I can’t imagine this book was easy to write. It discusses at length deep issues around the freedom and rights of women – looking at the different forms of violence towards women, tackling the question of culture, addressing how women are perceived when they do work in different countries, and pinpointing the costs of inequality. 

Presented with powerful statistics and studies, this non-fiction collaboration provides a powerful narrative about the importance of the equality of women in relation to the economic prosperity of countries. All in all, as the book states, it does not make any financial (and of course ethical) sense to prevent women from growing and contributing to a country’s workforce. It is completely detrimental to everyone – whether man or woman, teenager or child, politician or farmer – when a woman’s rights are oppressed by society.

One connection that is not discussed at length in the book, however, is the relationship between gender equality and climate change. Gender equality is a powerful driver towards social justice, growth, and achieving sustainable development, according to many organizations worldwide such as the United Nations. “Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world,” as stated in Sustainable Development Goal Number 5.

One of the ways to successfully combat the impacts of climate change and to respond to our current ‘climate emergency’ is to pursue social innovation. As we’ve known, we can’t continue “business as usual.” Organizations need to collaborate in creative ways to invent different business models. One key component of successful social innovation is collective impact, which brings together various stakeholders from the private sector, government, and nonprofits to obtain different perspectives. 

However, if there is no gender equality in those organizations, at the highest levels, then how are women supposed to achieve effective solutions if they are not part of the conversation? To ignore the perspective of women is to lose out on opportunities for valuable and insightful contributions. With the urgency our Earth is facing, this is not something to carelessly overlook. 

Overall, I encourage everyone to read Equality for Women = Prosperity for All. It will help you understand more about the issues that women face around the world, and what can be done in the pursuit to eradicate gender inequality.

Olivia Oudinot is a French-American writer and Social Innovation Program Developer. Her research and consulting services focus on sustainability, climate change, women and leadership and social innovation. She holds a Master of Science in Sustainability and Social Innovation from HEC Paris, and a Bachelor of Commerce in Management from Concordia University.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on DC Ecowomen help collect 6,365 pounds of trash

By Meagan Knowlton

It only takes five second to produce a plastic spoon. It takes 500 years for that spoon to break down.

That disparity is one of the many reasons we all need to take action to reduce the impact of our waste on the environment. One way to do that is to clean up trash already littering our natural spaces.

I recently attended the International Coastal Cleanup day hosted by the Ocean Conservancy (OC) at Kingman Island here in D.C. – a man-made island in the Anacostia River filled with early fall greenery and chirping insects.

I met up with two other women working in environmental jobs here in D.C. After enjoying catching up and finding delicious cold brew, we heard from several speakers from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and OC, as well as the ambassador from the European Union, who talked about how important it is to keep our oceans and waterways healthy and trash-free.

The crowd of volunteers ready to scour Kingman Island for trash.

A beautiful day for cleaning up trash along the Anacostia River.

After the welcoming speeches, we got to work but first we had to find a good spot to find trash. The popular areas of the island were already very clean– the Living Classrooms Foundation, which manages the island, does a great job keeping the trails free of trash. However, when we passed below overpasses and bridges, we found cigarette butts, bottle caps, food wrappers, and beverage bottles, which, according to NOAA, commonly end up in our oceans.

Volunteers pick up trash below a bridge on Kingman Island.

Finding trash treasure troves required digging into the marshy areas of Kingman Island. Once we crawled under cattails and other tall vegetation, we found great piles of trash — most of it plastic, particularly plastic bottles of all kinds, and sports balls. The three of us ended up with two soccer balls, one basketball, one tennis ball, and one football. For all the times you lost a ball as a kid and wondered where it went, we found your answer: It went downhill until it reached your local waterway.

We aren’t afraid to get a little muddy in the name of cleaning up our waterways!

At the end of the day, OC tallied up our total results and announced that 1,153 volunteers had collected 6,365 pounds of trash. We were proud that we beat last year’s haul of 5,000 pounds of trash!

Learn more about ocean trash, current efforts to solve the crisis, and what you can do to help here.

Meagan Knowlton manages sustainability programs at Optoro, a technology company that helps retail be more sustainable by eliminating waste from returns. Prior to Optoro, Meagan was a corporate sustainability manager in the Coca-Cola bottling system. She holds a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Tulane University. In her free time, Meagan can be found baking pie, escaping to the mountains, or exploring yoga studios in D.C.

 

 

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Climate action must engage and benefit women and girls

As the United Nations 2019 Climate Action Summit gets underway today in New York, DC EcoWomen asked UN Women  to send us their thoughts about why it’s important to integrate gender equality into the fight against climate change. The following blog post by Ulrika Modéer, UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, and Anita Bhatia, UN Women’s Deputy Executive Director for Resource Management, Sustainability and Partnerships, talks about the challenges and opportunities women and girls face because of climate change – and introduces a gender equality initiative that will be unveiled at Monday’s summit.

Climate action must engage and benefit women and girls

By Ulrika Modéer and Anita Bhatia

Photo: UN Women/Bundit Chotsuwan

Climate change is already altering the face of our planet. Research shows that we need to put all our efforts over the coming decade to limit warming to 1.5°C and mitigate the catastrophic risks posed by increased droughts, floods, and extreme weather events.

But our actions will not be effective if they do not include measures to ensure social justice, equality and a gender perspective. So, how do we integrate gender equality in climate change actions?

Climate change has a disproportionate impact on women

Climate change affects women and girls disproportionately due to existing gender inequalities. It also threatens to undermine socio-economic gains made over previous decades. With limited or no access to land and other resources including finance, technology and information, women and girls suffer more in the aftermath of natural disasters and bear increased burdens in domestic and care work.

Droughts, floods and deforestation all impact duties typically carried out by women and girls – such as water, firewood and fodder collection. These duties take more time or are thwarted in the face of these climate disasters, causing them to take up time that could have been used for education or leisure. For example, women and children accounted for more than 96% of those impacted by the flash floods in Solomon Islands in 2014 and in Myanmar, women accounted for 61% of fatalities caused by Cyclone Nargis in 2008.

Despite challenges, women play a key role in climate-related sectors

Women and girls also remain marginalized in decision-making spheres — from the community level to parliaments to international climate negotiations. Global climate finance for mitigation and adaptation programs remain out of reach for women and girls because of their lack of knowledge and capacity to tap into these resources.

Despite these challenges, women and girls play a critical role in key climate-related sectors and have developed adaptation and resilience-building strategies and mitigation techniques. Women and girls are driving the demand for renewable energy at the household and community levels for lighting, cooking and productive use solutions that the international community must now support. Women are holders of traditional farming methods, first responders in crises situations, founders of cooperatives, entrepreneurs of green energy, scientists and inventors, and decision-makers with respect to the use of natural resources.

Women comprise an average of 43% of the agricultural work force in developing countries and manage 90% of all household water and fuel-wood needs in Africa. Some studies have shown that if women were afforded equal access to productive resources as men, their agricultural outputs would exceed men’s by 7-23%. It is therefore imperative to embrace and scale-up the initiatives of the 51% of the world’s population.

Women and girls lead in mitigation efforts

In recent times, women and girls have used their knowledge and experience to lead in mitigation efforts. From developing apps to track and reduce the carbon emitted as a result of individual consumption, to reducing food waste by connecting neighbors, cafes, and local shops to share leftover and unsold food. Young women scientists, like South-African teenager Kiara Nirghin, are making a difference in the fight against climate change. They are building on the legacies of women and girls such as Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, who empowered communities to manage their natural resources in a sustainable way.

At the same time, UNDP and UN Women have been collaborating to advance gender equality and women’s leadership on climate change. For example, in Ecuador, the two UN agencies have teamed up with the government to support the inclusion of gender in the country’s climate action plans. UNDP and UN Women have also collaborated globally to ensure that gender remains a key factor when world leaders make critical decisions on climate change.

Engaging women will help limit warming

If policies and projects consider women’s particular roles, needs and contributions to climate action and support women’s empowerment, there will be a greater possibility to limit warming to 1.5°C in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We must continue to engage women and women’s organizations, learning from their experiences on the ground to build the evidence for good practices and help replicate more inclusive climate actions.

The UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday, September 23 is a unique opportunity to elevate at the highest level the need for substantive participation of women and girls in efforts against climate change.

Gender equality initiative to be presented at UN Climate Action Summit

At the Summit, there will be several initiatives put forth to address climate change, including one focusing on gender equality. The initiative recognizes the differential impact of climate change on women and girls, and seeks support for their leadership as a way to make climate actions more effective. It calls for the rights, differentiated needs and contributions of women and girls to be integrated into all actions, including those related to climate finance, energy, industry and infrastructure. It promotes support for women and girls in developing innovative tools and participating in mitigation and adaptation efforts and calls for accountability by tracking and reporting progress towards achieving these goals.

For climate action to get more traction and be effective, we need a critical mass of governments and other stakeholders to sign on to the Climate Action Summit’s gender-specific initiative. The world cannot afford to keep limiting the potential of women and girls in shaping climate actions, as all evidence points towards the benefits of their involvement.

There is already interest by United Nations member states, as shown by the increased integration of gender considerations in their national climate plans, but a broader movement is needed. We need multi-stakeholder partnerships and to engage a critical mass of supporters – governments, UN entities, financial mechanisms, and civil society organizations to support the gender-specific initiative of the SG’s Climate Action Summit.

The time for gender-responsive climate action is now.

 

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Five Rewarding Jobs for Women in the Environmental Field

By Kyaira Ware, Community Conservation Manager at Potomac Conservancy

Working in the environmental field can be a fun, rewarding alternative to the traditional corporate-office position. Whether you’re looking to change careers or simply want to see what’s out there, scroll down to read about five rewarding jobs for women in the environmental field!

Community/Grassroots Organizer

If you can enjoy working one-on-one with communities, organizing events, and managing large groups of volunteers, community organizing might be a good fit for you. The entry to mid-level salary ranges from $38k-$55k, and usually comes with other perks such as less time in the office and more time leading events in the field. For this position, you’ll want to make sure you’re organized, can meet strict deadlines, and feel comfortable speaking to large groups.

Keywords for job search engines: community organizer, grassroots, volunteer management, coordinator

Social Media/Communications Strategist

Know your way around social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook? You just may have what it takes to become a Social Media Strategist. Though a relatively new job field, social media positions have become essential components to many organizations. Starting salaries in the non-profit sector range from $38k-$60k. Many employers will want to see prior experience writing a variety of blogs, social media posts, and other digital content, as well as the ability to think strategically about engaging audiences on social platforms.

Keywords for job search engines: social media, strategist, communications, digital, writer, journalist, Instagram, Facebook

Development/Operations Associate

Fundraising is an essential responsibility of most development positions. If you enjoy using your creativity to attract new donors, planning large-scaled events, and making relationships with important stakeholders, this might be the perfect fit for you. Entry to mid-level salaries range from $38k- $50k.  You’ll want to have solid writing skills, work well with deadlines, and enjoy engaging higher-up stakeholders.

Keywords for job search engines: development, operations, board, fundraising

Grant Writer

Similar to development positions, grant writers are responsible for increasing funding through timely, high quality grant submissions to family foundations and corporate companies. There is usually no prior experience required, however, you want to make sure you can write concise, narrative-like content with tight deadlines. The average salary for a non-profit grant writer is almost $46k/year.

Keywords for job search engines: grant writer, writer, development, operations, foundations

Start your own consulting business!

As a wise woman, and the author of this blog, once said, “The most rewarding job is one that allows you to work for yourself.” If you have any specific skill sets that could be useful to an organization, consider offering your services as an independent consultant. Typical services range from communications strategy to the development of diversity, equity, and inclusion plans. Consultants are usually seen as experts in their field and are often not treated as regular employees, meaning they set their own hours and rates. The average salary for established consultants with many clients range from $50k-$100k+.

Kyaira Ware is the current Community Conservation Manager at Potomac Conservancy. She is passionate about connecting urban communities to environmental sustainability and looks forward to the day when we can all agree that climate change is real.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on A Note on 2019-2020 Leadership Transition

By Tamara Toles O’Laughlin

It is with gratitude and every other kind of emotion that I reach out to you as I conclude my board service with the District Chapter of Ecowomen. In the six or so years since I returned to Washington D.C. to pursue another chapter of my career, to marry, and make friends in a new city I have been rewarded. I have taken part in so many great conversations with leaders across the field, enjoyed opportunities to grow my leadership in ways that no single job could offer, and have helped to guide the evolution of our “moose lodge for women” where we have explored ideas for how working life balance may be made to meet the needs of modernity. And I have blogged about so much of it.

In my board service terms’, I have been fortunate to have worn a few hats. As a member of the professional development team, I supported two years of Ecohours, Mentor Dinners, and special programs that are a part of the forty program offerings each year put on by your chapter of volunteer board members. Next, I held the position of vice president of professional development where I focused on revamping the organization’s signature salon and monthly educational forum—Ecohour. During my tenure the professional development team changed the format, of our salon, from  a lecture program to a fireside chat style and worked hard to add some humor, accessibility and humanity to the offering. In those years, I thoroughly enjoyed the twenty or so Ecohours where I engaged in one hundred eighty hours of preparation for twenty hours of interviews, dialogue and discussion with women who are reshaping the world of work for women in the environment in the District.

In the last two years, April Martin and I joined forces to lead our chapter as a co-chairs. This was an intervention to the tradition of one woman as a single source of leadership and guidance as an experiment in governance based on our experiences in the chapter. I can say without hesitation that it has been a sincere pleasure to try on each of these roles and to continue to advance my personal mission and life work in this space—the meaningful engagement of women in the environment across, race, class and ability as partners, champions and principals.

Our work at Ecowomen has resulted in the intentional inclusion of black, indigenous, and women of color who have been thought leaders in environment and conservation, non-governmental organizations, federal agencies and start-ups. In my oversight of the salon we set goals for and provided real time demonstrations of the ways that the work of black, indigenous and all women of color is always present. And with intention provided a space to reflect with agents of change, in a public dialogue on the many ways our shared work has been made invisible as the status quo.

If I could do anything differently, I might have tried to organize a space where our community could more explicitly examine the role of a feminist practice in our work; and programmed for reflections on the ways that racialized dynamics are heightened amongst women who should be allies and often don’t quite make it. As I leave the chapter, but not this deeper work and conversation, I look forward to seeing what the new leaders, the board members, President and what each of you bring to this discussion and to our shared goals to create an equitable and healthy society where we live, work, and exist as Ecowomen.

Thank you for taking the time to connect over the last six years, to add your energy and talents to the building and rebuilding of this community. Thank you to the women on the board from 2013 to the present day who work consistently and constantly to make Ecowomen a space where good things are made to happen for and with women.

As I leave the District chapter, I have been thinking a lot about the dormant Baltimore City chapter and what I might bring to it as I make my home there. In the meantime, I will continue in my day job as the North America Director at 350.org and hope to see you in it  as Ecowomen and as fellow humans in adult and aging ally response to the youth call for climate action on September 20-27, 2019. It looks to be the largest global climate mobilization to date and will be followed by a week of action that will only strengthen the work of our lives to protect people and planet.

Feel free to reach out to me directly If you ever want to talk. And do sign up today to get involved in the climate mobilization which is already supported by partners including the Women’s March and 500 women in Science among others.

Fondly,

Tamara  Toles O’Laughlin

@Tamaraity

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Women Paving the Way in Ocean Conservation

By Charlotte Runzel, DC EcoWomen member

We’ve come a long way in the ocean conservation movement. While there’s still an enormous amount of work to be done, women have paved the way forward and challenged the movement for the better. This list includes women who have studied the marine environment in depth and now lead outreach and communications efforts to promote science, advocacy, and activism in a strategic and inclusive way.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

“The ocean is indeed in deep, deep trouble due to overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction, and good science is needed to turn that around. This science doesn’t need to be fancy, expensive, or complicated. Rather, it needs to be thoughtful, targeted, and inclusive.” – Dr. Johnson

Dr. Johnson challenges the way we think about ocean conservation. She’s intermingling equity, diversity, and inclusion with powerful new ideas that bring people together to save the planet. She is innovative, thoughtful, intelligent and the person we need to overcome obstacles in the ocean and our climate.

Her resume includes helping islands Barbuda, Montserrat, and Curaçao regulate and protect their coastal waters and save coral reefs in the Caribbean. She studied environmental science and public policy at Harvard and received her PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She worked at the Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was the executive director of the Waitt Institute, and founded the Blue Halo Initiative.

She currently has her own consulting firm, OceanCollectiv, which creates and amplifies solutions for a healthy ocean. She is a New York University professor. In addition to her wide expertise in ocean conservation, Dr. Johnson advocates for social justice in the environmental movement.

Read more by Dr. Johnson: New York Times, The Hill, Scientific American

Dr. Nancy Knowlton

“We are literally playing Russian roulette with the planet, so in my field at least, it is not enough to just ‘do science.'” – Nancy Knowlton

Dr. Knowlton works to re-calibrate environmental media to spread #OceanOptimism. She aims to inspire people to take action by using positive rhetoric; instead of the “doom and gloom” that is plaguing media. She’s confronting the way the media covers environmental journalism because people are more likely to take action if they are motivated by positive messaging.

Dr. Knowlton has dedicated her life to studying marine diversity and coral reefs. She has a B.S. from Harvard and a PhD from UC Berkeley. Through her research, Dr. Knowlton uncovered the connection between ocean warming and coral bleaching. She was a professor at Yale University, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. At Scripps, she founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.

She is currently the Marine Sant Chair at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where she works to combine research and outreach.

Read more by Dr. Knowlton: Smithsonian Magazine, The Solutions Journal, Seven Seas Media  

Dr. Sylvia Earle

“It’s the ignorance that most people have about why the ocean matters to them. Who cares if the ocean dries up tomorrow? The ocean should and does matter to everyone. Even the people who have never seen the ocean are touched by the ocean with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink.” – Sylvia Earle

Dr. Earle broke down gender stereotypes in the science field. Though extremely overqualified, she was rejected from the Tektite project, a government-funded study that housed scientists on the ocean floor as part of a deep-sea research program. The organizers could not fathom the idea of women and men living together underwater. Instead of giving up, she led Tektite II Mission 6, an all-female led research expedition that added onto the work of the first Tektite project. She is also the first female Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

Her education and experience include a bachelor’s from Florida State University, and a master’s and doctorate degree from Duke university. Her dissertation was one of the first robust descriptions of underwater plant life. She was a research fellow at Harvard, directed the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory in Florida, participated in various scientific missions to understand undiscovered areas of the ocean, and was the first person to walk untethered on the seafloor 1,250 feet below the surface.

Dr. Earle is currently a National Geographic explorer, leads Mission Blue, a nonprofit aimed to inspire action to explore and protect the ocean, and is working to establish a global network of marine protected areas, or “hope spots.”

Read more by Dr. Earle: National Geographic, Huffington Post, New York Times  

If you know a women working to save the ocean, comment below!

Charlotte Runzel is a policy associate at the National Audubon Society in Washington, where she analyzes and promotes marine policy. Prior to working at Audubon, she majored in Marine Science and minored in Conservation Resource Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. As an undergraduate, she interned at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and  the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter, performed her own climate change research on marine sponges in French Polynesia, worked as a lab and field assistant in UC Berkeley’s marine biomechanics lab, and directed a non-profit organization.

Photo Credits: TED Conference/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0; NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0; Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife/Flickr CC BY 2.0