A big night out for women and the climate

It was a big night for women’s groups last night in London and 10:10 was out on the town.

10:10 and the WEN
Last night’s high-profile report launch by the Women’s Environmental Network coincided with 10:10 partner Mumsnet’s 10th birthday bash (more on that later). A great opportunity to accompany 10:10’s Campaign Director, Eugenie Harvey, on a whistle-stop tour of progressive women’s movements here in the capital.

If you’ve been wondering how gender relates to climate change, look no further. The Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) offer enlightenment. The House of Commons hosted the launch of ‘Gender and the Climate Change Agenda’, which underpins the quest for environmental justice through feminist principles. A panel of one lucky man and many prominent women, including Eugenie, was on hand to share their visions of a greener, fairer world with women at the core.

Bernadette Vallely, founder and chair of WEN, outlined the disproportionate burden of suffering shouldered by women worldwide as a result of poverty and gendered social roles. One staggering statistic shows that 20 million of the 26 million people currently estimated to be displaced by climate change are female. However, far from a prophecy of doom, the report highlights the potential of empowered womanhood to deliver a gender-sensitive response to our planetary predicament.

Accepting assurances from the chair that his inclusion was more than tokenistic, Peter Ainsworth MP bravely broached the topic of population growth. The subject sparked further debate when the floor was opened to questions. A cautious consensus formed around the necessity of sexual education, available contraception and improved healthcare. There was also mention of meat and dairy consumption and the impacts associated with dietary choices. We were reminded of women’s position globally as the predominant providers within the context of food hierarchies.

Tamsin Omond, a driving force behind 10:10’s work with faith groups, praised the report as an invaluable resource in the continuing struggle for social justice. With a nod to the Suffragettes, Eugenie recognised the “responsibility to do for women in poor countries what women in the developed world have had done for them” and emphasised the importance of small steps to start people on a journey of engagement.

The WEN report is available to download for free here.


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