Women’s Empowerment for Environmentalists

A horrifying story of a man lighting his wife on fire a few towns over from here got me thinking about all the injustices that women endure throughout the world.  Here in the developed world, women deal with domestic violence, unequal pay in the workplace, and discrimination.  However, we have it pretty good compared to the challenges that women face in the developing world.  Arranged or forced marriages, lacking control over when and how many children she has, lack of education or job skills, bride burning, poor or non-existant health care for treatable medical problems like obstetric fistulas, and being forced into illicit activities like prostitution are just some of the challenges that women in the developing world face.

So, what does this have to do with environmentalism? When we think of women’s empowerment, we should think of the following: the rights to be educated, gain job skills, choose who she marries, and choose when and how many children to have.  When this happens, quality of life for women in the developing world increases.  When a woman’s quality of life increases, so will her children’s lives.  Women and children are most likely to suffer from environmental issues like problems accessing clean water and healthy food.  Women who have an education and job skills have fewer children, which helps to combat problems with overpopulation.  If you are an environmentalist, you should be aware of how much good for the environment can come from women’s empowerment.

There are many organizations that focus on empowering women around the world.  One that I support is Global Girlfriend.  From their website:

Global Girlfriend was created by Stacey Edgar in 2003 to help women worldwide gain economic security while providing you unique products and a simple way to help women in need. Our fair-trade boutique offers a line of trend-setting, women-made, fair-trade products including stylish apparel, accessories and gifts with one purpose — helping women in need help themselves. We believe passionately that economic opportunity for women holds the promise for real change in the world; because when women have an income, they reinvest in themselves and in their children’s health, education and nutrition, building stronger families and communities over time.

I don’t have a lot of money to donate to charitable organizations, but I support women around the world by shopping at Global Girlfriend.  I’ve bought some of their organic clothing and recycled jewelry, and I love that each item comes with a card that explains where it was made and who made it.  For example, I bought an organic cotton skirt that was made by “a non-profit employment program in the Tamil Nadu region of India. Run by an order of Franciscan Nuns, the sisters employ and care for 120 young women who are handicapped and/or economically disadvantaged.”  It’s a skirt that’s good for the environment, good for women, and fashionable.  I’m wearing this skirt and a tunic from Global Girlfriend in the picture below.

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If you support charities or businesses that promote women’s empowerment, please leave a comment!

Please note: Global Girlfriend has not solicited this post, paid me, or provided me with any free or reduced-price items.  It’s a company that I found on my own and have shopped with for a few years now.

Updated!

Wow, that pregnancy brain must really be kicking in.  I forgot that I wanted to add in something I learned in a botany course in college.  My professor, who’s research focus was on ethnobotany and urban botany, explained that in all of his experience in the developing world, he learned that women are the key to tree-planting programs.  He went on to tell us how women’s nurturing instincts were carried over onto the plants, and that it may seem like a stereotype, but that in his programs where they taught women to care for the trees, the trees thrived.  Women were also more likely to bring their children to care for the plants, thus instilling a care for the environment and wonder for nature with them.  In his experience, tree-planting programs directed toward men in the developing world were less successful.  Just another reason why women are important to environmentalism!

7 Comments

Filed under Sustainable Living

7 responses to “Women’s Empowerment for Environmentalists

  1. After having spent a year in Tamil Nadu we try to focus our helping to people that live in that area of the world. It is a great thing to focus our limited resources into a some very specific manners such to have a deeper impact on a group of people that we now have some understanding and connection with.

  2. Maureen

    For the past couple of years I have supported women entrepreneurs around the world through Kiva. I have probably invested $150 – $200 ($25 at a time) which I have no intention of ever collecting. I simply roll it over to the next entrepreneur when someone repays. I have also gifted my 3 daughters with Kiva start up money.

    The more women who are empowered through self-support, the sooner equality will come.

  3. OMG, that case right near us of the man lighting his wife on fire is horrible! How the twelve-year-old saved the baby, after she had been doused and while seeing her mother burn, is truly incredible.

    Thank you, Abbie, for bringing all of this to our attention and linking it to environmentalism. I have also supported Global Girlfriend, as well as Heart-to-Heart in Kenya, and have educated myself on unthinkable customs that still go on like female mutilation, etc. That some cultures practice such bizarre and hurtful behaviors is incredulous to us, and then this case you detail happens just a few towns away!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful cause. We support Heifer International because it’s based here in Little Rock. They also help women by giving them animals or small loans to start their own little businesses. They also have an online gift registry and my extended family always sets one up each Christmas. We gave 2 water buffalo, ducks, and 3 goats last year by just each of us giving a little.

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