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By Patty Simonton

Women around the world are looking at entrepreneurship as a way to make a real and lasting impact in their communities and beyond. 

Women are questioning the lack of healthy, responsible, affordable snack options for our children. They’re wondering why we, as a society, continue to tolerate single-use plastic and fast fashion despite the social and environmental impacts. They’re looking around in our grocery stores and noticing that most of the fresh-cut flowers being sold are imported, mainly from Central and South America, where chemical fungicides and pesticides are frequently used. 

But what’s really exciting is that women are increasingly stepping up to address the problems that they notice around them.

Here in the DMV, Margarita Womack at M’Panadas, and Meredith Cymerman at JaM Treats are proving that snacks can be healthy and delicious. Saba Tshibaka is connecting university students with unique, affordable, lightly-worn clothes, and educating them about the impact of fast fashion at Rendered, Inc. Carey Thompson at Elysian is creating 100% compostable packaging out of industrial hemp to replace single-use plastic, and Sarah Daken at Grateful Gardeners has said enough is enough with the chemicals when it comes to fresh-cut flowers, and is selling organic flowers in Montgomery County, Maryland. 

And they’re not alone. All around country, the number of women-owned businesses is growing.

According to the American Express 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, growth rates for the number of women-owned business in the United States continue to rise. The share of women-owned businesses stood at only 4.6% in 1972, but has since exploded to 42% in 2019. From 2014 to 2019, the number of women-owned businesses increased 21% (opposed to 9% for all businesses), total employment for women-owned businesses increased 8% (opposed to 1.8% for all businesses), and revenue growth for women-owned businesses was 21%, paralleling that of all businesses (20%). 

It takes investment to support the growth of these businesses, and Crunchbase reported that as of Q3 2019, over $20 billion had been invested into female-founded or co-founded startups, amounting to one of the highest levels in history. 

Yet access to such funds remains out of reach to many, especially for entrepreneurs-of-color. Shelly Bell, the founder of Black Girl Ventures reports that 18% of all businesses in DC are owned solely by women, and 27% are owned by people of color, in an article on the startup ecosystem for black women entrepreneurs in DC for the DC Policy Center. Bell also provides an in-depth look into the many challenges faced by entrepreneurs-of-color, particularly black women, when it comes to accessing the financial resources entrepreneurs need to grow their companies. I encourage anyone working within the startup ecosystem to read her piece. 

At Bethesda Green, our member companies tackle challenges related to the environment by building solutions in the fields of clean energy, water, climate, natural resources, and the zero-waste / circular economy. They also contribute to a sustainable food supply chain by developing innovations in agriculture, food production, manufacturing, distribution, and retail. We ensure that all members learn how to not only maximize their impact, but effectively communicate their impact to customers, investors, and the broader community.

One-half of the member companies in our current portfolio are female-founded or co-founded, an increase from 44% in 2019, and I look forward to growing that number even more in the coming years. 

If you would like to discuss how you can get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

If you would like to meet fellow sustainability-focused community members, I encourage you and the sustainability-focused entrepreneurs you know to join us at Bethesda Green for our Community Welcome Event on Thursday, January 16th from 3pm-6pm at our offices in Bethesda, MD. 

Learn more and register here: 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-welcome-event-tickets-84626124015

I believe that there is something truly spectacular about being a part of a large and growing community of people who see what’s possible and are working toward a sustainable future. Together, we can change the world. 

Patty Simonton believes in the power of impactful entrepreneurship and conscious capitalism, and seeks to harness the power of the startup and creative communities to strengthen community engagement and civic responsibility to change the world.  Patty is the Director of Bethesda Green’s Be Green Business program, which supports innovative “eco-entrepreneurs” through an Innovation Lab, and helps local companies obtain B Lab Certification by providing best practices for key environmental and social impact metrics such as sound governance, support for workers, and sustainability.

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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 | Comments Off on Self-Care: Tips on Surviving the Holiday Season

By Kendra Wiley

It’s December and you know what that means! Holiday parties, networking socials, galas and gatherings. It’s so easy to look up in January and be exhausted from all the food, booze, and travel. But what if you closed out the decade and entered 2020 feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the year? I have two words for you: self-care.

I have a friend who goes into hibernation when December hits. He gets off social media and is very intentional about taking time to rest and relax during the winter months. This year, I’ve decided to join him. I’m going to read some books, FINALLY learn how to play my acoustic, and spend some time reflecting on 2019 and strategically planning for 2020.

While this won’t be my first holiday season living away from home, it will be the first time I’ve lived 1,400 miles away from home. In the past I’ve found myself in a whirlwind of happy hours, dinners, and brunches and have returned home feeling completely exhausted. Between trying to see all my friends and spend time with family, I barely have any time for myself. I’m writing this post just as much for myself as I am for others. I’m hoping this will jumpstart you to handle the holiday season with intention.

Take Some Time for Yourself

Get back to the basics. What do you enjoy doing? What have you wanted to do that you’ve not had time for? Take this time to snuggle under a blanket and read one of those books on your “to read” list, or browse the shelves at a secondhand book or record store.

Have you always wanted to take guitar lessons, do yoga or meditation, or take a pottery class? Treat yourself. 

Know Your Triggers

This year will be the first time my family and I celebrate the holidays without my grandparents. Knowing that we’ll all feel sad has prepared me as I prepare to travel home for the holidays to try to focus on honoring them and the love and memories they gave us. 

Be Intentional About Who You Spend Time With (and Who You Don’t)

I’ve been missing my close friends something crazy, and I told two of them I needed them to make room for me on their calendars when I get home. And their response was: “Great! We can do a girls’ night with food, wine, and good conversation.” In addition to hanging out with people who bring out the best in you, think about those who are toxic and weigh you down with their complaints and negative energy. Can you either eliminate spending time with these people or cut down if you HAVE to see them?

Be Thankful
No matter what happened in 2019, we all have things we can be thankful for. Spend some time making a gratitude list for the year or journaling about the highlights. And celebrate the wins! Maybe that means going out with friends and having a toast to the all the great things that happened this year. 

Be Selective

Do you need to attend EVERY holiday party, gala, and happy hour? Or can you choose a few, and spend some nights at home binging a new Netflix show? Washington, DC is such a fast-paced city, it’s easy to get caught up in the networking and cool stuff that’s going on and having FOMO. But this may be one of the only times a year you get to slow down.

Don’t Be a People Pleaser

I have a friend with parents who are divorced and both remarried. She and her partner are trying to figure out how to accommodate ALL of the family members for the holidays and split their time between three to five houses. Just hearing her describe the logistics made me exhausted. Navigating between families can be hard, but remember this is your holiday break too.

What three self-care actions can you do this holiday season that are just for you? Make a list and get a friend to do the same so you can hold each other accountable. Here are a few self-care templates to get you started. 

Self Care Toolkit

Develop a Self-Care Plan

Kendra Wiley is a native Texan and health and wellness advocate. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of North Texas, and a Juris Doctorate from Texas Tech University School of Law.

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The holidays are almost here — which means that the season of eating is about to begin! DC EcoWomen board member Erica Meier shares how you can make a difference for our planet during this holiday season by choosing to eat a plant-based diet.  

By Erica Meier

The international scientific consensus is clear. Report after report paints an alarming yet sobering scene: Global warming is real, it’s happening now and human activities are largely to blame. 

The forecast is bleak: Worsening weather extremes and severe storms, disease outbreaks, altered coastlines, and more, with negative consequences on human health, particularly those in impoverished or marginalized communities. Specifically, according to Oxfam, women around the world, including in the US, will continue to be disproportionately affected by climate change. Which is why climate action must engage and benefit women and girls.  

As alarming as this message is, however, it’s not new. There’s been growing scientific consensus on this topic for years, if not decades, with environmental advocates and others waving red flags the whole time.

The good news is that there’s something more immediate and tangible we, the people, can do right now that will have a lasting collective impact: Eat plants.

There is widespread agreement in the research community, including reports from the United Nations, that raising animals for food is a leading cause of pollution and resource depletion. One of the most important actions each of us can take to reduce our environmental footprint is to choose plant-based foods. 

For example, did you know:  

  • It takes 420 gallons of water to produce just one pound of grain-fed chicken? 
  • The amount of manure produced on factory farms is three times greater than the amount of waste produced by humans — and there are no sewage treatment plants for animal waste? 
  • The production of animal feed, including pastures for grazing, takes up almost 80% of the world’s agricultural land resources?
  • The cattle industry is responsible for 80% of the forest clearing in the Amazon? 

In addition, hidden cameras are routinely capturing the immense suffering forced upon billions of animals each year behind the closed doors of the meat, egg, and dairy industries — and more recently the aquaculture industry.

Imagine how much more efficient and sustainable our food system could be if we ate plants directly rather than funneling them through farmed animals. A recent report by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences put a number on it: the production of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy is two- to 20-fold more nutritionally efficient per unit of cropland than our current resource-intensive animal-based system.

As stated by the United Nations in 2006: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.” In 2010, the UN further declared that “a substantial reduction of impacts [from agriculture] would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change away from animal products.”

More recently, a lead researcher on a report published in Science summed it up in The Guardian by concluding: “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth … it is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”

And yet, the herbivorous elephant in the room remains largely ignored in discussions about how to fight climate change. The answer is literally in our hands: We can use our forks! 

As we continue to work towards policy change and corporate reform, we can also take direct action by diverting our monetary support away from foods that are destroying our planet and causing animal suffering, and instead green our diet with more plants. 

Without a doubt, our food choices matter. Every time we sit down to eat, each of us can stand up for the planet, our health and animals. We can start today simply by making our next meal a plant-based one.

Erica Meier is a DC EcoWomen board member. She is also the president of Compassion Over Killing, a national animal protection organization that hosts the annual DC VegFest and promotes plant-based eating a way to build a kinder, greener, and healthier world for all.

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By Erica Meier

For children and adults alike, Halloween is all about the treats. Fortunately, we’ve got a few tricks to share about how to find delicious eco- and animal-friendly treats. We’ve even got a few ways to turn your pumpkins into treats for everyone to enjoy, including our wildlife friends!

Buying healthy treats – for us and our planet

This time of year, stores are loaded with Halloween treat options – however, many of them aren’t healthy choices for our bodies or our planet. To find healthier and greener treat options, take the time to look for foods, candies and treats that are produced locally.

Also, be sure to check labels to see if chocolate and sugar come from sustainable sources. Or you can go online to purchase all natural, sustainable options, including pumpkin-shaped chocolates from the Natural Candy Store or chocolate bites from Sjaak’s (check out their pumpkin spice bites!)

All those candy wrappers…

Creating a zero waste Halloween can be challenging because most candy wrappers aren’t considered recyclable.

TerraCycle offers a Candy & Snack Wrapper Zero Waste Box. How does it work? You order the box, fill it with all your wrappers, send it in, and TerraCycle takes care of the rest for recycling or upcycling. (The program is free if you send in wrappers from energy bars, such as Clif Bar or Lara Bar.)

You can also minimize waste from individually wrapped items by looking for foil-wrapped chocolates from the bulk bin at your local co-op. Lollipops with paper sticks (instead of plastic) are another good option — a few to consider include Yum Earth Lollipops, which are non-GMO, no artificial colors or flavors, and produced in a LEED-certified facility, or Zollipops, which are are sugar-free and tooth-friendly, and Amborella Organics lollipops, which include seeds in the paper sticks that can be planted!

Offer treats without the sweets

Non-candy treat ideas include clementines decorated like jack-o-lanterns, halloween pencils, blooming bugs (recycled paper embedded with seeds, available in other shapes),  animal finger puppets, or friendship bracelets.

Make your Halloween bash eco-friendly

Throwing a party for family, friends or neighbors? Serve your treats with glassware and washable utensils or look for recyclable or compostable plates. Remember to put out recycling bins for bottles and cans.

And before you run to the store to buy more treats, try whipping up these fun and simple ideas that will satisfy the sweet tooth of any ghoul or goblin: Halloween apple bites, made with three ingredients, are easy to make; pumpkin pie pop tarts are a pocket of pumpkin, perfect for making everyone smile; and mushroom stuffed eyeballs are spooky, savory snacks, sure to catch everyone’s eye!

Pumpkins can be treats too

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins. If you’re carving Jack-o-lanterns, be sure to save those pumpkin seeds — they’re edible! All you need to do is wash them, spread them on a cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt (plus other seasonings you might like, such as nutritional yeast), bake them for about 20-30 minutes and – voila! You’ve got fresh roasted pumpkin seeds. Or, simply dry the seeds on a paper towel and save them for planting in your garden. You can also toss them outside for birds and other wildlife to enjoy.

What about the rest of the pumpkin?  If you’ve carved your pumpkins, you can leave them outside for the squirrels to continue eating (since they probably already started anyway).  Once you’re ready to move on from Halloween décor, move your pumpkins into your backyard, under a bush, or near your compost pile. Breaking them into pieces will help them disappear faster.  Another fun option: Turn your jack-o-lanterns into a snack-o-lanterns by hanging them and filling them with seeds!

If your pumpkins are still whole and you’d rather eat them yourself, here a few different recipes to consider – for Halloween or Thanksgiving:

Looking for more ideas to green your holidays? Check out our guide to DIY Halloween Costumes from Your Closet!

Live in the DC-area? Here are some spooky sightseeing tips!

No matter how you celebrate, we hope you have a horrifyingly, happy Halloween!

Erica Meier is a DC EcoWomen board member. She is also the president of Compassion Over Killing, a national animal protection organization that hosts the annual DC VegFest and promotes plant-based eating a way to build a kinder, greener, and healthier world for all.

 

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Five Steps to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable

By Hana G.

Fashion has a major impact on the environment. Each year, the United States, alone, sends about 21 billion pounds of textile waste to landfills. Most clothing is made of materials and chemicals derived from fossil fuel-based crude oil. This means that it’s nearly impossible for clothing to decompose. If burned, the materials that make up clothing release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. When clothes are buried with other waste in landfills, moisture and heat can cause them to emit greenhouse gases such as methane. And, there’s also the environmental impact of items such as buttons, zippers, and studs to consider. There are ways that you can combat fashion’s impact on the environment by doing your part to make your wardrobe more sustainable.

Consider the five steps below as your guide to a more sustainable way of style:

  1. Educate yourself

 First and foremost, taking the time to educate yourself is a fool-proof way to discover sustainable style options. Do your part to research brands that offer eco-friendly apparel as well as companies that strive to minimize the waste they generate from their products. Take note of which fashion lines use only organic, vegan fabric options.

There are also several companies that make it a point to produce smaller amounts of clothing each season to avoid the harmful repercussions of fast fashion. The next time you’re shopping in-store and looking for more information on eco-friendly policies, ask an employee about their stance on sustainability. In addition, most fashion retailers who value sustainability have a section on their website.

  1. Buy for longevity

A great way to get more wear out of your clothes, thus increasing their sustainability, is by buying for longevity. While you might be tempted to browse the sale racks and find five-dollar sweaters for this season, if the prices are too good to be true, there’s usually a reason. In most cases, a lower price point also means lower quality.

Instead of spending money on items you’ll only be able to wear a few times, try increasing the longevity of your wardrobe by spending a bit more on pieces you can wear in years to come. If you keep in mind the closet life of your clothing purchases, you’ll have fewer items that end up in landfills – and you’ll establish staple pieces of your style to keep around for a while.

  1. Buy secondhand

Shopping secondhand is a great way to shop sustainably. Purchasing pre-owned items from thrift stores is the perfect way to shop for what you need and put our planet first. Whether you’re looking for vintage decor for your new apartment or you’re hoping to spice up your style with some eclectic clothing, most local thrift stores have what you need if you’re willing to look for it.

There are also online thrifting options – such as thredUP – that allow you to browse used, name brands from the comfort of your own home. If your taste tends to be on the fancier side, you can find your favorite name brands like Coach for less by looking online instead of in-store.

  1. Restyle your wardrobe

Developing a sustainable wardrobe doesn’t mean you need to go out and purchase all new clothes. Try optimizing your current clothing options by restyling what you already have. Spend a day clearing out every item in your closet, and have some fun putting together new looks you’ve never tried before.

The more use you can get out of what you already have, the more sustainable your wardrobe will be. Whether you decide to turn some of your T-shirts into trendier crop tops, or you fashion some rips into an older pair of jeans, try some DIY to keep your old clothes up to date. This will allow you to get as much use as possible out of all of your current clothes.

  1. Buy from local vendors

You know those cute boutiques you always pass by but never take the time to browse? It might be time to start shopping locally. Most local vendors source their materials within 60 miles, which minimizes the amount of gas used to transport their products – and their carbon footprint.

Buying from local vendors is also a great opportunity to take the time to find out if they value sustainability. While you might be spending a little more than you’re used to on your style, you’ll also be investing in a great cause by buying local.

Hana G. is a creative content creator who values both style and sustainability.

 

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.

 

 

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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.