How and why did climate change become a feminist issue?

I have been interested in climate change for more than a decade. Throughout that time, I have seen how the overall “climate change debate” has changed. It has pretty much gone from figuring out what it is (and how we can solve it) to blaming certain groups of people. The “climate change debate climate” is quite hostile these days. Due to Twitter and other social media platforms, the extreme left and right are more visible compared to what they have been in the past.

Many countries struggle with this, but I would say that the US is probably the worst. I have previously written an article about how and why so many Republicans in the US deny climate change. This leads us to a fascinating topic: women and climate change. A lot of publications have been written about this, but very few of them are very informative or good. I wanted to change that.

In this article, I will let you know how climate change became a feminist issue. In addition to that, this article will contain a lot of information from helpful resources (as well as research papers) to shed light on this specific topic. After reading this article, you will understand the link between feminists and a warmer planet.

What does it exactly mean that climate change is a feminist issue?

There are two ways to interpret this question:

#1: Warmer weather has a huge negative impact on women compared to men

Some people claim that women are more likely to be threatened by a warmer climate. One article published at Whatwork.za, claims that “for women around the world, climate change is an everyday reality that threatens their health, safety, economic security, and their very lives.

BBC published an article called “climate change impact women more than men“. The author claims that 80 % of all the climate change refugees are women. Women in certain cultures are responsible for providing food for the family, which puts them in an awkward situation when there are no more fish in the sea or the vegetables dry out from the sun.

#2: Women are not invited into the big political “climate discussion”

There have also been raised claims about the people in power. As some reports suggest that a lot of the political decisions in the world are taken by men, women are therefore not able to prevent climate change from happening. This is more of a general observation based upon the fact that most powerful politicians are men. Many people would argue that it is quite hard to prove that political decisions in regards to climate change is discriminatory against women.

Would it mean something if we had more women politicians?

Yes, it would.

What is extremely interesting is that a study across 130 countries showed that women politicians are significantly more willing to sign environmental international treaties compared to men. This is the largest study that has been done on this topic. United Nations published a report where they gave many examples of how climate change policies are implemented. The reason behind the report was to highlight the fact that many of these policies are not fair towards women.

More women in politics = positive impact on the environment.

Are there any other reasons why global warming/climate change is often connected with feminists?

Yep.

Do you remember the article I previously linked to? The one that told us that Republicans are more likely to be climate change deniers? That article is key to understand what feminism has to do with climate change.

Traditionally, parties on the left have been more eager to promote gender equality issues. This is not necessarily the reason why climate change became a feminist issue. Let me dig a bit deeper into the science and present some very interesting numbers for you.

Do women understand climate change better than men? Do women care more about our planet?

No, women do not understand climate research better than men.

Certain studies say that it is the other way around. Yale University published a very interesting article based on research done over ten years. In this article, scientists have given several statements to a group of men and women. After that, they made some graphs to illustrate the differences between the genders.

Let me show you the most interesting ones.

Who believes that the scientists have determined that climate change is happening?

Do men or women believe that scientists think global warming is happening? Photo: Screenshot, climatecommunication.yale.edu.

According to this graph: More men than women believe in climate change. This is a very interesting observation.

Just for the record: 97 % of all climate scientists do believe that man-made climate change is happening. We know that. If you want to know more about why or how we know that for sure, you can read this article.

Several statements divded by men and women

This is a table that I find very interesting:

Climate change statements divided by men and women. Photo: Screenshot, climatecommunication.yale.edu.

There is a lot of information in this table. Key takeaways:

  • Both men and women tend to agree that climate change is happening.
  • More women believe that global warming will harm themselves. This is actually also aligned with what science tells us: women have a bigger risk of having their lives ruined by climate change compared to men.
  • Interesting enough, no more than 46 % of the American men believe that the U.S. is currently harmed by climate change. Reality check needed.

Is it a coincidence that Greta Thunberg is a girl?

The biggest “celebrity” when it comes to climate change protests is called Greta Thunberg. I believe that it is a coincidence that she is a girl and not a boy. If you look at pictures from some of the hundreds of climate strikes over the last couple of years, the gender distribution is more or less equal.

However, we also know that a lot of people criticized Thunberg. And when you look at the profiles of those who stood behind that criticism, they are all men. I do not believe that this is a coincidence. Some men did not handle being talked to by a young girl that stood up for the climate.

Quotes like this is the reason why she became quite a target from people in power:

 

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Et innlegg delt av Women Tech Founders (@womentechfounders)

I am not saying that Thunberg is only criticized by men. What I am saying is that she proves that women might have a hard time getting into important political discussions in regards to climate change.

Conclusion

As you can see, this is a very complex topic that needs further research. But this is what we know:

– Most of the people that identify as feminists will also be active on the “left-winged” side of politics.

– Political parties on the left are more eager to implement restrictions and tax on eco-harmful activities.

– Women are more vulnerable in regards to a warmer climate. Therefore, there are many arguments as to why global warming SHOULD be a feminist issue.

– There is no evidence about women being more educated nor that they care more about the climate. This might come as a shock to you, but the evidence is quite clear on this point.

– However, there is good evidence that proves the significance of having women in political leadership positions. As the Yale article phrases it, quote: “women in government positions were more likely to sign on to international treaties to reduce global warming than men.”

All-in-all, I think we should be happy that people care about environmental issues. However, I am quite concerned that working towards a healthier planet is somehow connected to one certain group of people. Climate change should not be a climate change issue. It should be something that everyone agrees on and tries to prevent – regardless of what you think about gender equality issues.

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