In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Women and Climate Change

Posted 7/18/2013 by Grant Mitchell

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Shortly after arriving in the Senate, it struck me that the most effective senators seemed to focus on one or two issues. I decided I would focus on women's equality and the environment, particularly climate change.

Many forces will shape the world's future, but few more than the degree of progress of women's equality and the progression of climate change.

There is much evidence that third world development does not begin until women are educated. It is a necessary, if not an entirely sufficient condition of development. Once education and development are furthered, the prospects for the evolution of civil society and human rights are vastly enhanced. We talk of the need to develop democracies in the third world. It can be argued that you cannot have democracy without the elements of civil society and an appreciation of equality driven by an understanding of human rights. And, a necessary if not sufficient condition of democracy has to be some broad sense of equality.

Climate change will fight this positive force because it will stress people and economies. It will make life increasingly challenging. It will literally create wars and drive desperate poverty, just as women's increasing emergence might contribute to a greater well being in third world societies (and first world societies have a way to go too).

So, in some senses, women's equality and climate change will be intertwined. If we are not very careful and if we do not have the courage to change, we run the risk of "losing" to climate change. If this happens, the potential contribution of increasing women's equality may well be lost too.

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