This month the Bard Office of Sustainability is celebrating women and girls. What do women and girls have to do with environmentalism, you might ask? The answer is: Everything.
Project Drawdown lists educating girls as the 6th most important solution out of 100 for combating Climate Change. Family planning and supporting women who run small farms are also among their solutions. The United Nations lists reducing inequalities in general and gender inequality in particular on their list of sustainable development goals, which is meant to help the entire world build a sustainable future. Both of these international institutions, along with many others, have identified women and girls as key to solving the Climate Crisis.
There are a lot of reasons why women are such an important part of the solution. One of these is that women who are educated are more likely to marry later, have less children, and build healthier, more prosperous families. The less people we have on earth the less people we have consuming resources, and educating women is an effective way to reduce population while also giving women greater agency in their own lives.
Family planning is helpful for the same reasons. Communities that are better educated about reproductive health are more likely to have less children and to have healthier families. Access to family planning reduces a woman’s likelihood of unintended pregnancy, and teenaged girls who avoid pregnancy are more likely to stay in school and get higher-wage jobs.
Educated women also makes their communities less vulnerable to the stress and natural disasters brought on by Climate Change. A Brookings study found that a country’s resilience to Climate Change increased by 3.2 points (as measured by the ND-GAIN Index) for every additional year the average girl in that country attends school. This is because education gives girls skills and knowledge to help them deal with community challenges.
Educating and empowering women also makes them better able to take up leadership positions in sustainability movements, which research shows they are highly effective in, and can prepare them for jobs in a green economy. Women are also the producers of 60 to 80 percent of the food crops in many parts of the world, and ensuring that they have equal land rights to men can reduce emissions and increase food security.
Women are powerful forces for positive change, and right now much of their power is being suppressed. Ensuring that women are equal and equipped with the tools they need to thrive will solve myriad problems related to health, poverty, and security, including the Climate Crisis. Organizations and communities worldwide are starting to awaken to the power of women, girls, and the female bodied, and we want to be a part of that movement. Here’s how you can participate in Women and Girls month at Bard:
Tomorrow, Friday November 15th, we are hosting a Menstruation Celebration in the George Ball Lounge from 4pm to 6pm. There will be lessons on how to make a reusable pad and how to use a Diva cup, plus lots of giveaways and discussion about how to handle menstruation as sustainably as possible. The event is free, materials are provided, and all are welcome!
On Friday November 24th we are hosting a Hunger Banquet from 6pm to 8pm in the MPR. Each table at the banquet will represent a continent, and each person will receive a card with the story of a female bodied person from that continent on it. We will learn about the food insecurity experienced by women and the female-bodied all over the world and the vital role these individuals play in feeding and supporting their communities. The event is free, tasty food will be provided, and all are welcome!
Bard’s Womxn of Color United is a group that is encouraging the wellbeing of women of color on campus and beyond. Supporting them this month (and always) is a great way to support equity and inclusion as well as to fight Climate Change. In fact any promotion of social equity is a step towards a more sustainable world.
There are lots of ways to get involved with the empowerment of women, girls, and the female bodied beyond campus. Check out organizations like the Malala Fund, Care, and Frida to see how you can help, or explore local organizations that center on the female bodied.
Written by Ella McGrail
Class of 2021