The world as we know it is different for everyone. That is why I guess a lot of people still question the contribution of feminism and the need for it. Well, girls, I would like to tell you a bit of my past that taught me just how important feminism is.
I was seventeen years old in a small town around the lush mountains of rural Guatemala, volunteering at a free medical clinic. The simple things I took for granted back at home, like toothpaste and shoes, were all luxuries out here. Moreover, for most of the patients, we gave these things to, it was their first time having them. Talk about culture shock.
I will never forget one young woman who approached me at the clinic.
She couldn’t have been older than twenty-three. Her baby was strapped to her back (like most women there) and three other children walking in tow. She looked really stressed when she asked me to speak privately to her. She explained how she dreaded having any more kids and asked me for birth control. Unfortunately, that’s a drug we were not carrying, so I couldn’t help her out.
Now, in our world, we are always looking for ways to reverse climate change. However, many people continue to overlook the strong connection between climate change and gender inequality. You are probably trying to understand how this connects to my story, but trust me, girl, you will understand soon enough. Research shows that a woman’s status in her own society determines her access to education and family planning. Which seems to be the number one contributor to overpopulation and hence contributing to climate change and resource depletion.
The impoverished town in Guatemala where I met the young mother is just one example of the many. Truth is, developing areas worldwide lack cultural, economic, and educational resources to help elevate the status of their women.
According to the Brookings Institution, a woman with twelve years of education will have four to five fewer children than a woman with little or no schooling. And sure enough, as discussed by DrawDown.org, a major scientist-led climate change research project, “educating girls has an important impact on the use of family planning.” That’s because educated women have far more knowledge about birth control and family planning.
I am not saying that educated women don’t want to have more kids.
Rather, a lot of educated women like having a lot of kids. But, because of education, it is easier for a woman to understand how many kids she is capable of raising in an economical setting. They understand their birth control options are and their right to decide if and when they want to have children.
But what does any of this have to do with feminism?
Educating women is one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves and to humanity. But feminism and woman empowerment go far beyond simply improving their quality of life; it helps reduce greenhouse gases. Education and family planning are very powerful tools when it comes to population control. And, if implemented in developing nations, these two resources would “[result] in emissions reductions [that] could be 119.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide.” That’s an astounding amount of CO2 that we could divert from our atmosphere, feeling powerful yet ladies?
The young Guatemalan mother I met when I was seventeen helped me learn an important lesson:
Our access to resources depends a lot on where we were born. In other words, sheer dumb luck. Women who were never given an education or access to proper healthcare, have almost the same outcomes. The issues of gender inequality, overpopulation, and climate change are all one in the same. With feminism, the world is trying to promote more educated women and overall a world of understanding.
We are in no way saying that women are the reasons for overpopulation. On the contrary, we are saying the lack of education given to women is a contributor to it. Feminism promotes gender equality and empowers women to get an education and if you ask me it’s doing nature a favor.
Climate change is a complex issue.
But let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. By improving the lives of women we cannot only bridge the gap between the genders, we can keep our planet healthy.
Everyone will have very distinct thoughts in regards to this topic, so let’s discuss them. An open mind and a healthy heart is all we need girls. Remember to be healthy today and use your resources!