How Can We Fight Against the Discrimination Women Face In the Environmental World?
Today, the day the United Nations marks Zero Discrimination Day to celebrate everyone’s rights worldwide, promote inclusion, end inequalities, and create a movement towards fighting against the discrimination that women and girls face across all strata of life.
Women have been a dominant voice in the environmental world. They demand more involvement in environment-related decision-making and lead responses towards salvaging the environment. There are many examples across the globe of the great works women do towards combating environmental degradation.
A Nigerian woman, Bilikiss Adebiyi-Adeola, is at the forefront of solving the waste problem in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city and economic capital, through her social enterprise, WeCyclers. WeCyclers is a waste collection and recycling organization that has worked assiduously towards addressing the big city’s waste management problem. The social venture has collected over five thousand metric tonnes of recyclable materials since its inception.
Yetunde Fadeyi, a British Chevening Scholar, established Renewable Energy and Environmental Sustainability for Africa Initiative (REES-Africa) in 2017. The non-profit organization targets renewable energy access in rural areas by liberating villages from energy poverty and promoting environmental sustainability across the continent. The organization has carried out over twenty projects, and the projects have benefited over fifteen thousand people.
Olabanke Subair is another example of women championing an environmental cause through the firm — Cyrus45 Factory, which focuses on up-cycling waste into ultra-modern furniture.
Though women are taking significant steps to combat climate change and its impacts, there are still widespread gender discrimination. For example, AnnMary Raduva, a Fijian climate change activist who has planted close to 20,000 mangrove seedlings in Fiji, has received criticism about her works. She has been derided as a “young, naive girl” and condemned for championing climate change, citing that men should do such activism.
Raduva spoke extensively about this discrimination when invited in 2019 to speak at a United for Climate Justice event organized by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies in New York, United States of America.
Like Raduva, many women in the environmental world face discrimination, which hinders their contributions in the field. Fighting against gender discrimination is a crucial role every individual must be willing to play. We are responsible for reducing bias and inequalities faced by women in the environmental field drastically. Change must start with us.
To fight against such discrimination, women need equal access to science and technology education. In some specialized universities and research institutions, women are denied access to study courses relating to the environment and sustainable energy development. Such courses are seen as a male-dominated domain. This idea is chauvinistic, and such gender imbalance must stop.
Furthermore, governments must enact policies towards discouraging discrimination and eliminate discriminatory policies and laws towards protecting women’s rights and dignity in the environmental world. Rules are expected to break barriers and not cause an impedance to anybody’s growth. It is expected that the law/policy will create an inclusive environment, encouraging more women to contribute towards building a sustainable and eco-friendly environment.
We must unite to oppose women’s discrimination in the environmental field.
Today, like every other day, should be a day we champion the #ZeroDiscrimination movement. Everyone counts!
Author: Adelowo Oguntola