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Eco-tips; Supporting Girls and Women

(Photo from Plan Canada)

Project Drawdown lists “Tropical Forests” as its solution #5 in the list of 100 solutions for climate change. On an individual basis, there is little that you and I can do about this particular initiative, since the forces driving this are pretty far removed from the average North American. I’m going to skip over this one for now, and maybe come back another time after I’ve done some more digging.

So, in this post I’m going to focus on the Project Drawdown sector of “Women and Girls”, which is an umbrella designation for a few other solutions; Educating Girls (#6), Family Planning (#7), and Small-holder Farming (#62). The first two are particularly intertwined, because the higher the education, the few children women have, and population growth is a major driver of climate change.

.This initiative will involve more of an investment of time and/or money than the first of Project Drawdown’s solutions that I’ve hung these blog posts on. These focus heavily on supporting people in developing countries, but could certainly apply to women in North America and Europe as well, depending on their circumstances, particularly First Nations women, other WOC and women in generally poverty stricken circumstances.

I’m going to throw out a few suggestions to support each initiative, but you may come up with others that appeal to you more.

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First up; #6, Educating Girls

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There are a number of charities that support education of girls; for myself, I chose “Plan Canada”, formerly “Foster Parents Plan” and I participate in their “Because I am a girl” campaign. I chose them partly because they are non-sectarian, while other charities have a religious agenda. I am currently sponsoring a girl in Benin who is now 18, and is still in school. She enjoys math, soccer and language. Many young women her age are already married with more than one child. Deborah’s education may allow her to pursue an occupation which could significantly improve her family’s living conditions.

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These programs do things like; dig latrines that girls can use, supply feminine hygeine products (girls on their periods have a hard time going to school without that support), provide scholarships for post-secondary education, and of course, school supplies.

More locally, you may find an organization that supports the education of First Nations girls, or provides scholarships to girls in rural areas, or inner cities.

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Family Planning is #7, as population growth is huge in driving climate change. As Project Drawdown says; it’s not about outside forces determining when and how many children women have, it’s about giving those women choices;

225 million women in lower-income countries say they want the ability to choose whether and when to become pregnant but lack the necessary access to contraception. The need persists in some high-income countries as well, including the United States where 45 percent of pregnancies are unintended. Currently, the world faces a $5.3 billion funding shortfall for providing the access to reproductive healthcare that women say they want to have.

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Locally, this could mean; deciding not to have children yourself, or limiting the number, or supporting family planning initiatives like Planned Parenthood, and voting for politicians who are pro-choice.

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The third solution in Project Drawdown’s Women and Girls sector is “Women Smallholders”; #62 in their list of climate change solutions.

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If all women smallholders receive equal access to productive resources, their farm yields will rise by 20 to 30 percent; 100 to 150 million people will no longer be hungry. When agricultural plots produce well, there is less pressure to deforest for additional ground, avoiding emissions.

There a number of organizations that help farmers and entrepreneurs in the developing world, and some of them, like Kiva, will allow you to specify who you would like to support.

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I’ll also include here a link to the Wonderbag site. The Wonderbag is an insulated slow cooker designed by South African Sarah Collins, using locally sourced, recycled materials (mattress fabric, for example), and employs local workers to construct them. The Wonderbag is designed to reduce time used to find fuel for cooking fires, thus freeing up time for women and girls to find other occupations (like being paid to make Wonderbags! and going to school)

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Due to the reduction in fuel used, the Wonderbag is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to half a ton per year if used three times a week. (Lean, Geoffrey (9 December 2011). “Durban climate conference: the bag ladies with a vision”. Climate Change. The Daily Telegraph.)

If you buy one, the Wonderbag company will donate $1 toward supplying women in African countries with a Wonderbag of their own.

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