Essays

Women and Climate Change: Winners of the European Greens Essay Contest

September 12, 2011
Adaptation to climate change seems the realm of women in countries across Africa, Asia and South America. To the call for essays on women and climate change, many contributions from all around the world were sent in. They make it obvious that the level of awareness of this topic in developing countries is much greater than in Europe. Gender, as often, is the blind spot of the academic and political debate on climate change. It is high time that more attention is paid to the women’s hardships as well as their inspiring solutions.

The essays in this publication are very diverse, but they all concur on one thing: gender equality and the fight against climate change are two challenges that have to be tackled simultaneously, and urgently.

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Prize Winners and Finalists of the European Greens Essay Contest -
Women and Climate Change: Winners of the European Greens Essay Contest

Editor                                     Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Green European Foundation and the Greens / EFA 2011
Place of publication               Berlin / Brussels
Date of publication                September 2011
Pages                                     104
ISBN                                      --
Service charge                       Free of charge

 

Table of Contents
Jury Members
Forewords
Prize Winners
 
Meike Werner (1st place)
Klimawandel und Powerfrauen in Nicaragua – wie ökologische Landwirtschaft und Empowerment zur Anpassung beitragen können
Climate change and ‘power women’ in Nicaragua – how organic farming and empowerment can contribute to adaptation

Claudia Gimena Roa (2nd place)
Impactos de la crisis climática en la vida de las mujeres de la región de Santander, Colombia
Impact of the climate crisis on the lives of women in the region of Santander, Colombia

Irina Tasias i Compte (3rd place)
Mujer en lucha, naturaleza en paz
Women at war, nature at peace

Finalists
 
Fouad Khan

Nani, Khidr and the aesthetic bias of the universe – why gender inclusion matters

Krishma Sharma
Women and climate change – most affected yet least heard

Sabrina Regmi
Rural Nepalese women’s issues in climate change

Yeeshu Shukla
Enhancing community resilience through engaging women in the
climate sensitive Sunderbans delta of West Bengal, India


Foreword
Nicole Kiil-Nielsen and Marije Cornelissen
Members of the European Parliament

Women: masters of adaptation
 
This inspiring essay collection not only appeals to your mind, it also appeals to all your senses. It invokes images of chickens, geese and pigs roaming between banana trees and colourful clothes lines in Nicaragua, and of women stretching their hands up in despair, wishing their palms could stop the acid rain from destroying their crops in Nigeria. They invoke smells of beans simmering in large cooking pots and banana chips frying in seething oil. They invoke the feeling of the dangerously slippery hills of Nepal, across which women have to trek to get water for their families. And they invoke the sound of a grandmother whispering stories to her granddaughter about the wisdom of women in a rural village in India, and of a father telling his daughter about the struggle of fishermen against poverty and destruction of nature in Colombia.
 
To our call for essays on women and climate change, many contributions from all around the world were sent in. They make it obvious that the level of awareness of this topic in developing countries is much greater than in Europe. Across Africa, Asia and South America, women are coping with the effects of climate change on an everyday basis. And they do so in an admirable way.

Climate change basically requires two different courses of action; mitigationto reduce emissions and stop further climate change on the one hand, and adaptation to the effects of climate change that are already felt on the other hand. In Europe and other developed parts of the world, attention is mostly paid to the first. At all political levels and at international conferences, mainly male politicians discuss political policies to stop climate change. Hardly bothered by the effects of climate change themselves, their discussion revolves around percentages and technologies. Though essential, this discussion is only half the story.
 
In the developing world, people are dealing with the effects of climate change on an everyday basis. Mud slides, draughts, floods, acid rain, lack of clean water, desertification, tropical storms and other drastic changes to the weather pattern of the centuries before make agriculture and fishery increasingly difficult. This makes life that much harder for the poorest people in the world. And among them, women are worst off. They are often the ones working the land and getting water to feed their families, while they do not have control over the land they work on or the major decisions about where and how to live. Many of the essays show that women in developing countries have become masters of adaptation, finding ways in which to toil the land under changing conditions while also working on their own empowerment and emancipation.
 
While mitigation of climate change seems a western, male-dominated realm, adaptation to climate change seems the realm of women in developing countries. It is high time that more attention is paid to their hardships as well as their inspiring solutions. Gender, as often, is the blind spot of the academic and political debate on climate change, while gender has an impact on every policy related to climate change and these policies impact the gender balance in their turn. It is simply illogical to consider them separately.
 
You will find in this book the essays that made it to the final round of the selection. They are very diverse, but they all concur on one thing: gender equality and the fight against climate change are two challenges that have to be tackled simultaneously, and urgently.

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