In his new book, The Drawdown, bestselling author Paul Hawken says that empowering women and girls is the number one solution to climate change, the Ecologist reports. Educating women allows them to be more independent. They are more likely to have a solid future if they stay in school, because it prevents them from entering into young marriages and having children too early.
Besides the obvious benefits of lowering the population, female empowerment goes above and beyond in the fight against climate change, as women have become instrumental in areas like food production and policy making.
In many agrarian societies and economies, women assume the role of providers, especially in developing countries. Due to climate change, many of these communities that rely on agriculture have been severely affected by weather patterns, drought, and famine.
In response, a group of 400 women in Benin, located in Sub-Saharan Africa, decided to mobilize, and create a change for themselves by revolutionizing the way they farm the land. With the help of the women-lead NGO ADESCA, and with the guidance of both local cooperatives and the Solar Electric Light Fund, 10 villages have now implemented what they called ‘Solar Market Gardens’(SMG).
SMGs are a completely sustainable energy solution, and many would say a step into the future of green energy. How does it work? They simply combine a solar-charged water pumping system with drip-irrigation. Drip irrigation is known to save tons of water, while the sun’s energy is infinite to us, unlike other finite fossil fuels. This system is perfect for the climates in developing countries that receive lots of sunlight, and need to conserve water. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it also enables isolated communities to be independent of seasonal changes, meaning they can raise their crops whenever they want.
SMGs bring social innovation to how these communities deal with climate change, because they involve the local women in the transformation of the agricultural system. Natalie Elwell, the first official Gender Advisor to the World Resource Institute (WRI) says, “Involving women on all levels is a necessity if we want to convert to a more sustainable future.”
Because of this project and the community building along with it, more than 185,000 people in the region have gained access to renewable energy and are reaping the benefits of sustainable growth. This process simultaneously fosters equality for women and helps prevent further climate change.
The Women for Results Climate Prize was awarded to them for their work by the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).
This amazing success is a promising example of the growing trend of intertwining social and environmental issues. Only when we are all connected and on the same playing field can we come together and solve the larger problems that affect not only humanity, but everything on the whole earth.
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