Believe it or not, even in 2019, the prediction is we won’t see gender parity in our times. A new report, Mind the 100-Year Old Gap, by the World Economic Forum, claims global gender parity will only be experienced after 99.5 years. Although this is devastating news for the planet, it’s not written in stone.
Women are not only the worst impacted by environmental degradation, but they are often the custodians of many environmental resources. In Uttaranchal, men often leave their villages for better jobs in cities. Women tend to the farm – they have the knowledge about farming and forests. Without their knowledge, we would lose our ecological wisdom. In other parts, women suffer much more when they absorb pesticides. Apart from their own bodily ruination, they can pass on the toxics to the next generation. Finally, as family caregivers, women have to look after these ill children, forgoing their earnings and even previous levels of nutrition, if the cost is too high for the family to afford food anymore.
No country can grow or be sustainable if it leaves women and girls behind. Our Panchayati Raj inclusion from the 73rd Amendment has shown us good things can happen. I suggest a few others in 2020. These are including a robust gender component for all Environmental Impact Assessments, critical for large projects, promoting women scientists and ecologists, making available opportunities for them, guided by them. And education-talking about trees and tigers isn’t enough. Talk about why women matter in to the planet.