On June 16th, 2022, EnvironFocus hosted our monthly sustainability webinar on “Gender Equality Methodologies in Addressing Climate Change.” This webinar focused on the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Gender Equality and Empowering Women and Girls. The event was an effort to create a platform for dialogue around feminist frameworks for climate justice: reflecting on core principles, exchanging ideas, sharing strategies, and learning from each others’ analysis, challenges, and questions.
United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 5 is focused on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls globally, while emphasizing the recognition that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.
Each year, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) convenes to follow-up on and review the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. In preparation for 2022’s review, United Nations Women undertook an assessment of progress on the goals to date. The findings are sobering. Progress towards achieving the gender equality goals has been slow and insufficient. The distance to equal is long and time is short. The world is currently not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.
For more information on SDG 5 and its targets, click here.
The webinar event, hosted by Obie Agusiegbe, CEO of EnvironFocus, featured presentations from two expert guest panelists: Rajni Vohra (WahWoman) and Juliet ‘Kego (Whole WoMan Network).
Our first panelist of the event was Rajni Vohra. Rajni is an entrepreneur, humanitarian, a seasoned trainer, mentor, speaker, writer, and marketing professional, with 20+ years of rich experience working with cross-cultural teams in diverse domains. She holds a Doctorate Degree in Advertising Language and an MBA from IMT Ghaziabad. Rajni is the Founder of WahWoman, a global women empowerment platform to amplify voices of women across the world. Rajni is also the Country Chair (India) for Ecocivilization, a global revolutionary movement with a vision of a future state of harmony between people and nature that involves a synthesis of economic, educational, political, agricultural, and other societal reforms towards sustainability.
Rajni’s presentation highlighted how there are two groups of women in the climate sphere: those who are skilled and well educated on climate change and its effects, and those who are uneducated and/or unaware. Rajni strongly believes that skilled & educated women need rightful access to contribute in the climate sphere, rights to establish equity, and pathways to become ‘resource persons’ for climate action. Uneducated/unaware women, on the other hand, need increased access to education to raise awareness on climate change effects and reduce unknowing harm (disposal of menstrual products, wastewater, waste management). Rajni highlighted how both groups of women play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Rajni spoke on the importance of SDG 4 (Quality Education) in relation to SDG 5 (Gender Equality), specifically, the importance of education for SDG 5 target 5.8: Promoting Empowerment of Women through Technology. She highlighted how only 30% of India’s internet users are women, considerably less than other developing countries digital gender statistics. In rural India, the proportion of female internet users drops down to 12%. This is a considerable statistic because 68% of the population in India lives in rural areas. Rajni believes that digital literacy for women helps them to become more economically empowered, as well as take more ownership over their lives. Further, affordable, effective and easy-to-use solutions for household management, like the Wells of Wheels technology for water collection, can greatly impact the livelihoods of women in developing countries. Even today, many women and girls have to travel for miles every day, carrying heavy water on their heads in the heat, missing important educational and economic opportunities.
Some memorable quotes from Rajni’s presentation include:
“No revolution happens overnight. But if you have a consistent and collaborative effort, you can make a concerted push for change.”
” We need to keep in mind how technology can help women grow, save their time, and save their energy.”
“Gender equality is a multifaceted and multidimensional issue.”
Our second panelist was Juliet ‘Kego. Juliet is a social justice advocate, an international speaker-poet, and master-certified leadership coach and trainer. A passionate advocate for financial literacy and economic opportunities for women and girls, she stands for the cooperative movement and solitary economy. Juliet is one of the founding members of several social enterprises such as BWPW Co-op and Whole WoMan Network-– a leadership, empowerment, and advocacy social enterprise for African women and youths, operating at the intersection of gender, race and socio-economic strata. Juliet has several years of fieldwork on how rape culture, in particular, sexual abuse in grey zones, affects women’s participation in leadership and governance in permissive, patriarchal African cultures.
Juliet’s presentation focused on SDG 5 targets 5.2 (End All Violence Against and Exploitation of Women and Girls), 5.3 (Eliminate Forced Marriages and Female Genital Mutilation), and 5.6 (Universal Access to Reproductive Health and Rights), highlighting how these targets intersect with climate action.
Her presentation also noted key factors that influenced her chosen SDG targets, such as migration from rural to urban areas or migration from the Global South to North. Difficult economic conditions, climate change impacts on agriculture, and series of war and conflicts have resulted in increasing migration of people from FGM prevalent nations to high-income countries (HIC) where FGM or forced marriages are not traditionally practiced– spreading the violent traditions to new areas.
Juliet also importantly highlighted that gender equality methodologies must be place-based, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach because each society has unique issues that it is dealing with.
Juliet finished her presentation with a powerful excerpt from her poem– “Today, I will not bow”-– which has been translated into several languages and performed by students globally to raise awareness about issues that affect women and girls.
Some memorable quotes from Juliet’s presentation include:
“Women, let’s keep going and breaking those glass ceilings. But those people who hold the ceilings, whether they are men or women, you must also be ready to shatter them. The burden should not be on us alone.”
“Make the field a level playing field. Create a system that is equitable for all. Women are ready to lead, and we are leading in different capacities already.”
Through our Q&A discussion we spoke on the importance of sex-disaggregated data and the incorporation of said data into policy planning and implementation: “Women are disproportionately affected by climate disasters. They are more likely to die or have miscarriages due to environmental pollution and water quality. In post-disaster situations, women often do not have the resources, finances, or connections to leave the area. They often stay put to take care of children and the elderly. Incorporating gender equality perspectives into climate change prevention and post-disaster planning is critical.”
We also highlighted the fact that many women are unpaid climate activists and caretakers of nature: “There are already hundreds of thousands of women– rural women and Indigenous women– who are already stewards of our planet and are not getting the recognition they deserve. They naturally take care of the planet and its resources, and there is an opportunity to pay them for this work, creating economic opportunities for women which open doors for them to further action. Women do not NOT exist in this space, they do, and their voices need to be heard.”
EnvironFocus thanks our speakers for sharing their expert knowledge with us and creating an atmosphere of learning and thoughtful discussions.
Also, thank you to all who attended this event. We hope that you found this webinar informative and worthwhile.
To pay for the full video, visit our webinar recordings page on our website.
EnvironFocus Webinar (EW) Series
The primary goal of the EW Series is to provide our attendees with sustainability focused learning from a global perspective. The events are also an opportunity for clean-tech and sustainability organizations to showcase their projects to our vast international audience.
Our EnvironFocus Webinar events are held on the third Thursday of every month, from 11:00AM to 12:30PM EDT.
Our next webinar will cover SDG 14: Life Below Water, with the topic “Harnessing the Blue Economy” and will be held on July 21st, 2022. You can stay updated and be ready to save your spot by following us on our social media pages and subscribing to our mailing list here.
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