In Our Own Backyard: The Future is Female

Kay Bolden | 8/2/2017, 5:52 p.m.
Project Drawdown -- a broad coalition of researchers, scientists, graduate students, PhDs, post-docs, policy makers, business leaders and activists – ...

Project Drawdown -- a broad coalition of researchers, scientists, graduate students, PhDs, post-docs, policy makers, business leaders and activists – are assembling and presenting the best available information on climate solutions, and ways to protect our planet over the next thirty years.

Some of their recommendations are predictable: harnessing alternative energy like wind and solar; adopting plant-rich diets; re-introducing native flora and fauna in depleted forests; and reclaiming farm land.

High on their list – at #6 – is something that doesn’t seem to be connected to the environment at all. The solution ranked at #6 is … Educating Girls.

In America, all children go to school, regardless of gender. We take this for granted. In developing countries, however, it’s not nearly as common for girls to be educated. And even here, in our own backyard, girls are still less likely to pursue training and careers in male dominated fields of science, technology and medicine.

But how does educating girls impact our environment? Education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their communities. Women with more years of education have fewer and healthier children, and actively manage their reproductive health. They have lower maternal and infant mortality rates, and view good nutrition as a priority.

Educated girls have higher earning power, greater upward mobility, and make their voices heard in corridors of power. In developing countries, girls with schooling are less likely to marry as children or against their will. They have lower incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria. Their agricultural plots are more productive and their families better nourished.

Education also shores up resilience and equips girls and women to face the impacts of climate change. They can be more effective stewards of food, soil, trees, and water, even as nature’s cycles change. They have greater capacity to cope with shocks from natural disasters and extreme weather events.

Recent news stories about the all-girl Robotics Team from Afghanistan and the Gambian Robotics Team (2 girls, 3 boys) drive home the reality: the future leaders of climate science and environmental protection will have women in the forefront of innovation.

Empowering our girls not only results in socioeconomic growth, but also family stability, improvement in community health, and protection of our environment.

Want a free copy of the ebook 5 Things You Can Do Today to Empower Girls? Visit Warren-SharpeCommunityCenter.org.

Kay Bolden is an author, Times Weekly blogger, youth advocate, community activist and urban farmer on Joliet’s southeast side. She’d love to hear your thoughts on sustainable living, economic justice, and how we can all live together on the only planet we’ve got. Follow her on Twitter @KayBolden or drop her a line at Kay@KayBolden.com.