“Every female climate scientist who achieves any prominence has seen her social media mentions fill with schoolyard insults, disparaging descriptions of her appearance and threats of sexual violence. Every politician in the spotlight on the climate front becomes a target for partisan attacks. Young women who take on leadership roles are met with condescension regarding their abilities and contempt regarding their motives. And once such abuse reaches a particular volume and pitch, it spills over from the online world to real life.” So writes Chris Turner in this piece for Chatelaine which looks at why women fighting climate change are such targets for misogynists.
It goes in to a lot of detail, talks to people who have been subjected to a litany of abuse, and the impact it has.
You need to look no further than female teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. The Huffington Post among publisher bringing attention to the sick stickers being circulated of her apparently being raped from behind by pigtail tugging supporters of an oil company. She dismissed it as evidence of desperation from the deniers.
It also added succour to her previous call on the media to focus on the subject and other people campaigning too, not the celebrity. And somehow still she keeps on going …
“This climate law is surrender – because nature doesn’t bargain and you cannot make ”deals” with physics.
And we will not allow you to surrender on our future.”
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) March 4, 2020
Yet women remain firmly in the minority of voices being heard.
If you take a recent study by US base non profit group Media Matters for America which showed ‘women, scientists and people of colour’ are in the minority of people being interviewed despite a rise in climate coverage. Just 27 percent of guests booked for interview were women, according to their data.
Another young female activist, US based Sophia Geiger, had this take on the media’s performance:
Imagine if the media reported on the climate crisis like it does on the coronavirus. Headline news every day, constantly releasing an updated death toll, analyzing whether world leaders are doing enough, most importantly, making public believe this is something to take seriously
— sophia geiger (taylors version) (@Sphiamia) March 1, 2020
Others are having a global impact.
Greenpeace International for example has published this list of what it describes as ‘10 inspiring women who bring environmental stories to their crafts‘.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle meanwhile published this audio which goes beyond the conversation, but to the the physical impact on the ground of climate change against women with evidence that it makes them more vulnerable to sexual violence. It focusses on data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and, in English, cites case studies, of how women suffer in communities.
So too those fighting to protect their people. This report in The Tablet told of 137 women being attacked last year for standing up against big businesses. It also details how just 13 percent of global agriculture land is owned by women. Women are being targeted in other ways. The Verge claims education on sexual health is ‘one of the most promising ways to stop climate change’. Basically, stop having babies.
Human Rights Watch touches on the lack of parity, saying: “Governments have a human rights obligation to address climate change both by cutting emissions and by adequately funding protections, especially for marginalized communities.”
A piece in Time Magazine from November heard evidence by Professor Nitya Rao which highlighted another danger when it comes to forming opinions around climate change and women. “They said nobody bothers to talk to them.”
There is another twist. Al Jazeera reports on an expected rise in the number of child brides around the globe, notably in areas like Africa which contribute the least impact on causes of climate change but suffer some of the biggest impacts. Abigail Higgins details how some families believe marrying off children can in fact protect them from crimes like rape, others need the money generated from the Dowry.
Others, she reports, simply consider it one less mouth to feed.
Climate Action for and by Women – UN Women
Meet 15 women leading the fight against climate change – Time Magazine