Helping Women Helps the Planet

Data increasingly shows that supporting and protecting women’s rights has positive benefits for the planet. Microcredit programs for sustainable agriculture, improved reproductive health and education play a major role in determining whether a woman will become self-sufficient enough to start her own business, or decide whether or not to have children. This, in turn, has strong ripple effects on natural resources.

In poorer nations, this growing trend is especially relevant as those populations are disproportionately impacted by climate change.  According to a United Nations report, “The effects of climate change, including drought, uncertain rainfall, and deforestation, make it harder to secure [natural] resources.”  The report goes on to say that “…women are less likely to be in positions of power to protect natural resources.”  Giving women the power to choose how they want to live their lives, both economically and personally, can therefore dramatically impact the local economy.

Some of the social benefits of giving women increased authority include improved health, self-esteem and community ties in addition to a newfound top-down business approach that focuses on employing women in regions where their predominant role has historically been childrearing and food preparation.

Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement, which started in Kenya in the 1970s, has been pivotal at connecting African women to their environment in an effort to both protect natural resources and encourage women to stand up for themselves.  Maathai’s revolutionizing concept centers on connecting the economic dots in an effort to demonstrate how a healthy environment gives back to the local community via a healthy water and food supply.  Paying women a stipend for planting trees, for example, demonstrates how new forest growth provides food and shade, prevents erosion and eventually lures back wildlife.

While there have been challenges to this model, including corruption, fostering this important link between a healthy, stable environment and a healthy lifestyle is vital for protecting the planet and maintaining a balanced approach to conservation.  And, as women are typically the ones to work directly in the environment, getting women involved in local governance issues, in addition to farming, could lead to increased environmental awareness and protection on a political level as women are most knowledgeable about the plants they collect and the resources available to their families.

Related Stories:

Farewell Wangari Maathai, Hummingbird of Hope

Is Microfinance the Cure for Global Poverty?

Women and the Horn of Africa: The Suffering and the Solution

Photo Credit: Masai29


Carole H.
Carole H.4 years ago

I agree with Duane B. - we women cannot do any worse than the men have and all evidence shows we are likely to do better - far, far better -

nicola w.
Jane H.4 years ago

yes you don't see women hacking each other to death with machetes or dreaming of owning a tank...

Abbe A.
Azaima A.4 years ago


antonia maestre
antonia maestre4 years ago

One thing leads to another...

Berny P.
Berny p.4 years ago


Lori K.
Lori K.4 years ago

Wangari Maathai was (died in 2011) one of the most amazing persons about whom I have read. I read her autobiography, "Unbowed", and upon finishing the book, I turned it over and started reading it all over again right there and then. I completed the second reading in toto and when I was in the ICU in 2010, I had Matthew bring the book to me. Its proximity to me, either on my tray table or my lap, comforted me as I remembered her long, arduous struggles and tenacity in the face thereof. Among numerous other awards and honorary degrees etc., she was ever so deservedly a Nobel laureate. I highly recommend her book and learning more about her. I guarantee you will love the woman you meet.

Paul Carter
Paul Carter4 years ago

Europe and North America became prosperous when women became educated, respected, involved in society (voting and standing for office) and had opportunities to be productive. The west is declining as both sexes in some segments of society reject education, lose self respect and respect for others, and have less opportunities to be productive (unemployed or under-employed). Education and respect are the keys to a better society.

Sarah C.
Sarah C.4 years ago

Women saving the planet and educating others to do the same, empowering their lives n those of their families n communities - what's there not to like? It's high time.

JILL C.4 years ago

Assisting women improves individual lives, raises the standard of living for families and lessens the negative impact of humans on the environment.

Duane B.
.4 years ago

It's time to put women in charge of the planet ... men have been shown to be incompetent for thousands of years, it's (past) time to try new leadership!