Yesterday afternoon I was invited to a reception at Portcullis House for the launch of the Women's Manifesto on Climate Change, jointly produced by the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) and my favourite charity, Women's Environmental Network (WEN).
Globally, women are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to our different social roles and status. In the UK and in other developed countries, increasing costs for energy, transport, healthcare and nutrition are likely to affect women, including single mothers, more than men. In developing countries, women are already suffering disproportionately more as a consequence of climate change:
70% of the world's poor, who are far more vulnerable to environmental damage, are women
85% of people who die from climate-induced disasters are women.
This is no radical feminist tract, but a simple rallying call to the Government to take strong leadership and enable women to make a greater impact on reducing carbon emissions. A recent climate change survey conducted by NFWI/WEN of more than 500 women (amazingly, the first ever) clearly demonstrated that women care greatly about environmental issues, and are the primary household purchasers. Of the decisions made by women within the home, 93% of household food, 84% of clothing, 82% of household products, 75% of holidays, 74% of home furnishings and 61% of car purchases are made by women. My own eco-emporium, lazye.co.uk, was founded on the premise that women - as the primary purchasers and primary carers - have a key role in tackling climate change as consumers, educators and 'change agents'. This survey presents hard evidence to support such belief.
The survey demonstrates that 80% of women are very concerned about climate change (compare this with a recent EMAP survey findings of 84% women, but only 64% men) and 75% are apprehensive that government action to tackle climate change will not be taken soon enough.
According to the climate change survey, what women of the UK want most is:
97% believe the Government and industry are not doing enough.
Top priorities for action -
86% demand the Government to invest in more renewable energy
86% want manufacturers to design more environmentally friendly products
81% demand tougher carbon reduction targets
85% want more green products and green labelling of goods
85% want lower prices for environmentally friendly products
82% more government grants and incentives to reduce carbon emissions
Remarkably, 94% have already begun to make lifestyle changes and are willing to do more in the future. As Penney Poyzer pointed out, behavioural change on individual level is crucial, and what is clearly demonstrated by this report is that the women of this country have the will to tackle climate change. What is needed now is the way.
I have signed as a signatory of the Women's Manifesto on Climate Change asking that
If you too care about the above, you can lend your support by signing up to the manifesto, or to find out more, check out WENor NFWI websites. Even better, donate or sign up and become a member.
[photo credits: Burkina Faso Tearfund, Masai Women call for more to be done to tackle climate change, I-Count 2006 Greenpeace/Dave Walsh]