The Role of Women in Environmental Conservation
Ramesh Chaurasia-Role of Women in Environmental Conservation
The disastrous effects of climate change are visible right in front of our eyes today and they are expected to aggravate in the next few decades. There is an increase in the frequency of natural disasters and the rise in the sea levels has made many regions, especially the low-lying areas and island nations prone to floods. Many species are also on the verge of extinction. The consequences of climate change are endless. It has threatened the livelihood and health of every living creature on this planet.
Women and Girls: the vulnerable section
It is true that every individual is affected by the implications of climate change but there are certain vulnerable sections of people who suffer the most. This includes women and girls, especially poor women, indigenous women, and those living in rural areas. At the international level, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action have traced how women and the environment are interconnected with each other. There has been some improvement in the condition of urban women, but the condition of women in the rural areas has not changed much. And therefore even when it comes to environmental issues, they are the ones to bear the maximum brunt. At the time of any natural calamities, rural women and women belonging to the lower economic strata of the society find it extremely difficult to bounce back due to their lack of access to economic resources and limited income-earning opportunities. The responsibility to look after the welfare of their families by collecting firewood and water lies on the shoulders of women. Environmental destruction and water scarcity compel women and girls to walk miles to meet their basic needs of firewood and water. Because of the ingrained inequalities and discriminatory practices, when there is food insecurity, women and girls are the last ones to get something to eat. Similarly, I can enlist innumerable ways in which climate change impacts women, and the worst part is that their voices about environmental protection are hardly heard.
Women’s contribution in conserving the nature
When I think about the role of women in conserving the environment, Chipko Movement crosses my mind. It is one of the most famous ecological movements in the nation and what makes it even more striking is the fact that it was led by women. The movement started in 1973 with the aim to prevent the felling of forests in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand. It also shed light on the problems faced by women as a result of environmental destruction.
Even today, women are finding ways to raise their voices against ecological destruction and conserve their ecology. For instance, recently I read about an all-women rainforest force in Kerala that is fighting to preserve the Western Ghats. I also came across how women living in Sundarbans are planting saplings to protect the coastal communities from the threat of catastrophic events. Such unique ideas of these women and their constant determination to save mother nature come from the fact that the lives of these women are closely connected with that of the ecology that is sustaining them and thus any change in the ecology will directly hamper their livelihood.
What should we do?
Despite their efforts, we often tend to neglect their contribution to the conservation of the environment and their representation in environmental decision-making processes is extremely less. I feel that it is significant to have the participation of women in planning and implementing ways for the conservation of the environment and in environmental decision-making processes at all levels starting from grass root level to leadership positions. This will make sure that their views are taken into consideration. Whenever environmental policies, schemes, and programs are implemented, they must pay heed to the concerns of women and they must deal with the ways that the consequences of environmental destruction on women can be mitigated. I strongly believe that building resilience against calamities among women and girls is important to lessen their hardships.
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A superior and highly experienced entrepreneur in the field of business for quite a long time now. Also, a philanthropist, author and public speaker who believes in working towards the overall well being and betterment of the society as a whole.