“The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change.”
“Every action matters, every choice matters. We need to be stubbornly optimistic. Either we can sit back and say we’re too late, or we can say we’re totally running out of time, so we have to stand up! In my book, we don’t have any other option.”
Christina Figueres, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Women may make up 51% of the global population, but when it comes to climate action, we’re making the biggest waves. From leading the sustainability movement, to practicing more impactful lifestyle choices, women are the guiding force. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, Futuretivity would like to acknowledge the positive contribution women are making to our planet.
1. Women are Champions in times of Crisis
The Covid pandemic demonstrated women’s ability to respond more effectively in a crisis. A study of 194 countries discovered that pandemic responses were significantly better in countries led by women, whilst Covid-19 deaths were lower in countries and states with female governors. This difference is also reflected in business. During the pandemic, women business leaders scored higher in motivating employees, taking initiative, developing others, and communicating powerfully. Research shows that women adopt preventative and innovative measures at a quicker rate than men, tend to think for the collective good by making more decisions that support public benefit, provide fairer pay and encourage honesty and ethical behaviour.
2. Women Lead on Political Change for the Planet
Once elected to office, women are at the forefront of environmental and social legislation. Following her election, the then New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern and her cabinet consisting of 40% women declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ and took action to make the country’s public sector carbon neutral by 2025. In the UK, Caroline Lucas became the first Green Party MP to be elected to parliament, putting environmental issues firmly on the British agenda. Christiana Figueres is considered one of the biggest voices in the international environmental realm. Along with a now legendary group of women called the “lionesses” including Farhana Yamin and Tessa Tennant, they created the principle of ‘net zero emissions’ at a time when many parties to the climate convention were at odds. Christiana also delivered the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and persuaded 195 countries to commit to keeping a global temperature rise this century below 2°C.
She also founded the Global Optimism Group, a platform that promotes practical solutions to climate change and support the belief that ‘stubborn optimism is a deliberate mindset. Humanity has the capacity and ingenuity to address any challenge – including the climate crisis.’ Another pioneer is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the powerhouse behind the Green New deal, a plan that makes the link between environmental and social injustice. The deal acknowledges how oppressed groups are more likely to be affected by climate change, and calls for active participation.
Research shows that women in leadership positions create and improve climate change policy more often than men. A study of 130 countries showed that countries with a high representation of women in their administrations were more likely to ratify international environment treaties. Precisely for this reason, SHE Changes Climate calls for more women’s representation in multilateral climate negotiations. Additionally, women are also vital forces in peace-making since data evidences that when women are involved in negotiations, they increase the probability of ending violence by up to 24%.
3. Women Take Action for the Planet
Notable too is the role that women have played as leaders in social and environmental movements. Wangari Maathi created 6,000 tree nurseries to block desertification in Kenya, empowering women in her community. This sparked the Great Green Wall initiative, an African-led movement aiming to grow an 8,000 km belt of trees across the Sahel to transform millions of lives, providing vast amounts of carbon capture and storage. Climate activism is also predominantly led by women like youth activist Greta Thunberg. She began her global movement by skipping school, spending her time outside the Swedish Parliament holding a sign that read ‘school strike for climate’. She has since addressed heads of states in the U.N. and across the world and inspired millions of people to join a global climate strike in September 2019 - the largest environmental demonstration in history.
4. Women are Living more Sustainable Lifestyles
According to a British study, women are more eco-friendly than men, with 71% of women and only 59% of men increasing their commitment to ethical living.
In the global South, women are more likely to recycle, buy organic food and eco-labelled products, and endorse energy efficiency measures. European research shows that women demonstrate greater concern about the climate crisis and are more willing to make sacrifices to reduce carbon emissions than men. In the USA, women are 5% more likely than men to believe in climate science.
5. When it Comes to Sustainability, Women are More Educated
Women are more driven to increase their sustainability knowledge than men and have a higher demand for sustainability-focused roles. They also have an advanced level of education within the sector, which helps them achieve greater success in recruitment to these roles than their male colleagues with women making up 58% of sustainability executives in large companies.
6. Women are Building More Sustainable Businesses
Studies show that women executives invest more into environmental sustainability processes in order to reduce emissions than their male counterparts. This is cited as being due to women’s ‘inherent sense of social responsibility.’ Other research shows that firms with women CEOs pollute less and have higher awareness of environmental protection, with impact companies having 3.7 times more female CEOs than FTSE 100 companies. The greater the number of women in senior management, the more likely a company is to have better environmental credentials.
Celebrating and recognising the contributions that women have made and continue to make to combatting the climate crisis is part of being a responsible business. International Women’s Day 2023, calls for us to Embrace Equity. At Futuretivity, we know that equity is vital to achieve true sustainability and necessary for any business to survive into the future.
Futuretivity delivers climate positivity with vibrant, socially impactful commercial power. We recognise that the how-to of sustainability can be overwhelming, so we partner with businesses to empower them with actionable roadmaps, skills for the future and meaningful connections to succeed. Being a conscious business needn’t cost the earth nor cost your business.
For more inspiration and insights on sustainability for business go to futuretivity.com/resources If you are a company that needs help with sustainability in your business book a call with Futuretivity now and get sustainability delivered.
 Garikipati, Supriya and Kambhampati, Uma, Leading the Fight Against the Pandemic: Does Gender ‘Really’ Matter? (June 3, 2020). http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3617953  Sergent, K., & Stajkovic, A. D. (2020). Women’s leadership is associated with fewer deaths during the COVID-19 crisis: Quantitative and qualitative analyses of United States governors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 105(8), 771-783. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/apl0000577  Harvard Business Review. “Research: Women Are Better Leaders During a Crisis.” 2020. https://hbr.org/2020/12/research-women-are-better-leaders-during-a-crisis  Can women make the world more peaceful? (2021). Retrieved 17 June 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/aug/11/women-conflict-peace-society