Kelsey Callahan is the Senior Director for Energy Policy at the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy
The Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy attended this year’s COP 27 United Nations Climate Change Conference and is proud to shine a light on the need for more innovative and long-lasting climate solutions. One of the most important long-term challenges of climate change is the manner in which it disproportionately impacts women. As it was put in a recent explainer from UN Women, “Women and girls experience the greatest impacts of climate change, which amplifies existing gender inequalities and poses unique threats to their livelihoods, health, and safety.”
Therefore it is of the utmost importance that any and all proposed solutions to climate change take into account long preexisting inequalities and the fact that climate change would only further amplify them. It is clear that women must have greater economic and educational opportunities to be able to overcome both current inequalities and prepare for the future hardships that will come from climate change.
It is essential that there be increased public-private partnerships between governments and leading companies across a whole host of industries including in energy production and agriculture, to encourage women to join them and offer different and much-needed viewpoints to these industries. Furthermore, more must be done not just to foment opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields – since according to UN data, women make up only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of computer science and informatics graduates – but also to ensure that they become industry leaders. This means that those who finance innovation whether it be venture capitalists, private equity firms, or banks, must be more willing to take a chance on women entrepreneurs just as they have given such chances time and time again to men who are looking to get their start-ups off the ground.
Ultimately, climate change impacts all of us. This phenomenon does not respect national boundaries and will undoubtedly impact a wide range of industries. However, it is undeniably clear that those who will be most adversely impacted will be women and that the world will be better off by ensuring that opportunities exist for women’s perspectives to be heard just as loudly as those of men in the C-suite and corridors of power. In the places where the most important decisions are being made about how best to confront climate change, it is essential that women’s voices not just be heard but championed, and that their warnings and solutions be heeded for the good of everyone. If women are denied the basic human dignity and opportunities they rightly deserve, the world may unnecessarily suffer when looking to figure out how best to contend with the catastrophic consequences of climate change.