This week Senator Barbara Boxer released a new climate bill in DC. The hope is that the bill will pass before December, so that US will have emission reduction targets in time for Copenhagen. In Los Angeles, on the last day of the Governors’ Global Summit, several outstanding women were awarded the first Climate Leaders by Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet initiative. While the two events occurred on different coasts, they’re indicative of what will hopefully prove to be a permanent change in climate debate.
It’s an established fact that women are disproportionately affected by global warming. Women plant, produce, procure and prepare most of the world’s food. Women tend to be poorer and more dependent upon primary resources that are threatened by climate change. As the primary caregivers in families, they are the most affected by increased family illness. Since it is they who bear the brunt of the reality of climate change, it is important that women in developed countries – or, the ones that pollute the most - be involved in policy making.
Last year, two women Nobel laureates went to Washington, D.C. to call on Congress to address climate change. As representatives of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, an advocacy group of women laureates that stands for women’s rights and peace, the laureates wanted women’s voices heard as US lawmakers debate legislation to curb global warming.
Going back to the Oxfam America Sisters on the Planet awards in LA, there was definitely something special about watching the honorees step up to the podium. There was genuine emotion, and in some cases tears – a level of compassion that would doubtfully show through in a room full of men. Not to say that their male counterparts lack compassion, but there was a sense of empowerment and sisterhood palpable in the room.
As Senator Barbara Boxer sheperds the new climate bill through the Senate in DC, it must be remembered that one need not be a senator or a legislator or a CEO in order to affect climate change. Besides the small everyday decisions that we make, women can get involved at the grassroots level, educating their friends, family, Congress, president, and the media about the affects of climate change. All it takes is one small pledge.
As one honoree said, women are the change. We’re on the brink of a new economy, a new way of life, and it’s time that women made their voices heard in the climate change debate before we progress too far into the Age of Stupid for real.