This article is sponsored by HP and written on behalf of HP.
Tackling a global challenge as complex as climate change requires a complete package of solutions and actors, but a powerful effort is widely overlooked: educating girls. Education provides girls with the skills and knowledge to respond to climate-related disasters and to the changing resource landscapes around them. Educated girls’ contributions to their communities increase the region’s overall resilience to climate shock.
Educated girls grow up to be women who participate fully in society and take on leadership roles. A growing body of evidence shows that female political leaders are particularly effective in creating environmental protection measures and more likely to ratify climate protection laws and treaties. And projections from a host of international organizations, including the UN and the World Bank, indicate that education combined with family planning and reproductive rights has a dramatic impact on population growth and CO2 emissions.
But with more than 130 million girls not in school pre-pandemic and 20 million more at risk of never returning to school due to COVID-19 interruptions, the world is denying girls their right, while lacking a transformative solution to a serious threat. And climate change threatens girls first and foremost. Without education, girls are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change. Today, 80 percent of the people displaced by climate disasters are women and girls.
“Extreme weather events are ruining livelihoods and exacerbating poverty, and girls typically carry the majority of spikes in child marriage, human trafficking and domestic violence,” said Christina Lowery, CEO of Girl Rising, a nonprofit that promotes girls’ right to quality education. Girl Rising has recently launched a new program, Future Rising, focusing on climate change.
“We want to see a renewed commitment to girls’ education, especially in the wake of COVID-19, when we have seen disproportionate consequences for girls, but also how educated girls lead during the crisis,” she said. “We need to invest in girls, their education, their social-emotional needs and their access to opportunities and most importantly to digital solutions.”
“Digital generation. Our generation” was the theme for this year’s International Girls’ Day on October 11, highlighting the growing digital gender gap. Since 2013, the number of women and girls who do not have access to digital technology has increased from 11 percent to 17 percent in 2019. In the least developed countries, the gender gap is around 43 percent. During the pandemic, an estimated 463 million children were unable to access digital learning; most were girl colors. These gender differences in digital connection are also related to girls’ vulnerability to climate shock.
“Not being able to use a cell phone or the Internet to access weather forecasts or to be able to correctly interpret information due to a lack of basic education makes girls far more likely to be injured or killed in an emergency,” Lowery said. .
Women living below the poverty line are 14 times more likely to die in a climate disaster, according to a report by humanitarian nonprofit CARE International. And recently, a study published in the journal Science found that if global temperatures continue to rise, this generation of children will experience three times as many climate disasters as their grandparents.
“Girls are the solution,” Lowery said. “When girls are educated, the benefits are widespread, transformative and long lasting. Educated girls can develop better solutions to deal with things like food and water shortages. Educating girls in STEM topics and giving them skills in negotiation, communication and problem solving will better equip them to lead the world’s transition to a more sustainable low-emission economy. ”
Girl Rising launched its Future Rising initiative in April to drive investment in girls’ education, to harness the power of educated girls to tackle climate change and change gender norms through storytelling. Ayomide Solanke, 27, a Future Rising Fellow from Nigeria, is creating a series of graphic novels to vividly demonstrate the link between extreme drought and child marriage.
“It is not possible to tackle climate change without addressing gender equality and a whole host of other injustices and inequalities,” Lowery said.
Girl Rising collaborates with other foundations and larger companies to advance its agenda. For example, with the support of technology giant HP, the nonprofit organization is collaborating with 1 million teachers to work with community educators and religious leaders to increase the number and capacity of homemade educators to deliver learning around the world. Also with HP, Girls Rising has been able to support an education partner in India, Slam Out Loud, who has developed art-based social emotional education delivered through low-bandwidth technology platforms. All of these efforts are part of the HP PATH (Partnerships and Technology for Humanity), the company’s goal of accelerating digital equity for 150 million people by 2030, with a particular focus on girls and women, among other historically excluded communities.
“We are on the brink of change, possibly the biggest since the Industrial Revolution,” said Anna Hall, director of Future Rising. “Girls cannot be left behind. Educating girls in STEM topics will prepare them for jobs in a new green economy.”
In addition to supporting young female leaders through their Future Rising Fellowship and developing a new education plan for their programs in 12 countries, Girl Rising is raising awareness of the importance of educating girls to become political leaders in forums such as. UN General Assembly Goals House and COP26. They challenge companies to add girls’ education to their climate strategies.
Here are some ways in which companies can advocate for and address fundamental equality as part of their climate change solutions:
Educate your employees about gender inequality and climate change. Use your platforms and channels to build awareness and understanding of these issues among your employees, supply chain and customers.
Invest in job training programs that provide girls with quality education and job training.
Reconsider internship programs and intentionally seek and support young women and men from historically marginalized societies, especially those experiencing the most marked effects of climate change.
Mentor women in your company and girls in your community. It is imperative to provide leadership, communication and collaboration skills and opportunities for career advancement.
Be a role model. Find ways to share the role models among your employees and managers with young people. Girls and boys should both see examples of women in management, especially in science and technology. People have to see it to be that.
Decarbonize your core business and supply chain. A truly effective strategy for tackling climate change must include system change.
“Any change to our system must include the voices, ideas and talents of educated girls and women,” Lowery said. “Educating women and girls is as close as you can get to a silver ball to solve a wide range of challenges the world faces.”