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Women climate and environmental leaders



The climate crisis isn’t gender neutral. Our response can’t be either. The 66th Commission on the Status of Women highlights the essential role women and girls play in confronting the planetary emergency. Here’s why gender equality is critical for environmental and climate action.


Women’s climate and environmental leadership is effective. Globally, nearly one third of women’s employment is in agriculture. They make up 40 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. Their impact can’t be ignored.

When knowledge gaps between women and men in agriculture are reduced, and both women and men can access training, productivity can increase as much as 131 percent.

Source: UNDP

“Targeting women to enhance traditional knowledge around coral reef importance and conservation is critical here because we are the ones that go out fishing.”

Community health worker,  Fiji

Adi Caginatoba Koroivosa

Women play a vital role in sustainably managing biological resources and are disproportionally affected by biodiversity loss. In Africa, they manage 90 percent of household water and fuelwood needs.

As key players in food production and the sustainable use of natural resources, women have the knowledge and capacity to transform.

“We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a human future at all.”

Physicist and ecofeminist, India

Vandana Shiva

Women’s environmental leadership is crucial. Women are problem solvers – from juggling work and family demands to navigating spaces designed without them in mind.

"I don't sit in the corner where I'm told to sit."

Gentiana Alija Shala

Solar energy engineer, Kosovo*
* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).
Gentiana is blazing a trail with rays of sunlight.

A survey of undergraduates across 14 countries found that female students had stronger environmental attitudes and behaviours than their male counterparts. Without harnessing women’s energy and ingenuity, the world won’t meet its environmental goals.

“It is the moment when all goes dark and silent where I ask myself: what can I do to fix this?”

Solar energy trainee, Lebanon

Rita-Maria Fahed

Women’s climate leadership is about equality. Women and girls shoulder a greater burden from climate change and destruction of nature. Yet they make up only 33 percent of those working in environmental ministries.

“I would like the four communities in my district to have clean cooking technologies. Setting up my clean cooking business will enable me to earn income while helping people.”

Eco-entrepreneur, Peru

Ana Maria Pumaccallahui

It’s imperative that women be involved in designing and delivering equitable solutions. When women don’t have a seat at the table, their particular needs and perspectives, strengths and experiences can be overlooked in environmental programmes and policies.

“I completely believe and agree with science, but it is important to emphasize the human factor and the Indigenous peoples’ perspective. My perspective is unique and that is what brings me to the table.”

Youth climate activist, India

Archana Soreng

Women have vast knowledge and skills to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity, gleaned through their roles and contributions as environmental stewards in their communities. 

“Society doesn’t believe women are built for this risky job, so just by doing it we are achieving something, we are proving them wrong.”

Park ranger, Zimbabwe

Margaret Darawanda

Though often without recognition, women have always been powerful agents of change for the environment. Recognizing and elevating their leadership brings benefits for all of us.

“In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now. ”

Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Kenya

Wangari Maathai

Women as Environmental Stewards demonstrates the importance of investing in women’s leadership and technical skills for improved environmental benefits and sustainable development.

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3 - Kiril Dobrev / Unsplash
4 - Nino Zedginidze / UNDP Georgia
5 - UNDP Fiji
6 - Annie-spratt / Unsplash
7 - UNDP Lebanon
8 - Augustus Binu / Wikipedia
10 - Gentiana Alija Shala / Instagram
11 - Christina Morillo / Unsplash
12 - UNDP Lebanon
13 - UNDP Guatemala / Caroline Trutmann
14 - Engin Akyurt / Unsplash
15 - Tucker Tangeman / Unsplash
16 - Aditya Siva / Pexels
18 - UNDP Zimbabwe
19 - Chen Song / UNDP China
20 - Laurel Maryland / Wikipedia
21 - Pixabay / Pexels

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