Women Are Changing the World

Equality. It has evaded generation after generation of women. Nowhere is this truer than in combating climate change.

Around the globe, 80 percent of people displaced by climate change are women. In Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where food production is seen as women's work, the disparity is striking. Women account for nearly half of the world's smallholder farmers and produce 70 percent of Africa's food. Yet, less than 20 percent of land in the world is owned by women. Women are held back by both custom and law. Extreme weather, natural disasters, deforestation, and other consequences of climate change add to the toll on women. Food insecurity become a multigenerational issue.

As a result, the most effective solutions are often local, intergenerational, and come from women. As the first ones to feel the consequences of the misuse of the environment, women are often better able to understand the impact and to find solutions.

Women are Taking the Lead

One of the first steps is making the debate around climate change more inclusive, especially for women. That has been the work of Sunita Narain, an environmental-policy researcher since 1982. Her work has helped increase the availability of safe water to reducing air pollution. "[It] has to be a much more inclusive issue," she says. "Everybody has the right to development, which means everybody has the right to clean energy."

Jump ahead a generation to the work of Jamila Abbas. A computer scientist and entrepreneur in Kenya, she was born a few years after Narian had already started her career. Abbas created a mobile platform that has made it easier for farmers to get information to match their crops with market information, helping to double sales to female farmers.

The Fight for Gender Equality Starts With Us

Planet Aid supports and implements projects focused on educating and providing resources to girls in developing countries. Nikhalamo—Girl Stays in School Project in Mozambique Africa, is one project that aims to break the gender imbalance by helping more women graduate and succeed. Nikhalamo reduces obstacles that prevent girls from primary to secondary school. It is part of an inclusive view of international development.

This year, International Women's Day is an opportunity to focus on equality across the world and across generations. "One of the most successful development policies you can pursue is giving girls and education," former president Barack Obama said in a 2015 speech while visiting his father's native Kenya. "If you educate girls — they grow up to be moms — and they, because they're educated, are more likely to produce educated children."