Climate change is a global issue that affects everyone, but its impacts are not felt equally. Women, particularly in developing countries like the Philippines, are disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to existing gender inequalities. For instance, natural disasters have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of Filipinos. Since women are often the primary caregivers and providers for their families, the destruction of homes, crops, and infrastructure caused by natural disasters can have a devastating effect on their lives. Women in the Philippines are also more likely to live in poverty than men, which makes them more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Women who lack education and economic opportunities are less likely to have the resources and knowledge to prepare for and recover from climate-related disasters.
Women play a crucial role in climate change mitigation and adaptation since they have a unique perspective on the impact of climate change on their communities. Their unique experiences and roles in society shine a light on solutions that might have gone unnoticed. By involving women in decision-making processes related to climate change, policies, and strategies can be developed that are more responsive to the needs of women and their communities.
Here are examples of Filipina women blazing trails in the realm of climate action and serving as catalysts of change:
(Image from her LinkedIn)
Growing up in a small coastal village, Carmela saw how climate change and plastic pollution had a devastating impact on the local fish populations and reefs. When she was 15, Carmela attended an environmental conservation camp at Danjugan island, a solar-powered wildlife sanctuary a short boat ride from her village. During the camp, she learned about USAID’s partnership with the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI) to protect the environment. Since then, her passion for fighting climate change and environmental issues were ignited. After high school, Carmela embarked on a journey to become a fisheries technologist, all the while engaging in a fruitful collaboration with USAID and PRRCFI on the Municipal Waste Recycling Program. This notable initiative marks USAID's inaugural endeavor focused on combating land-based contributors to oceanic plastic pollution.
In her capacity as a community facilitator, Carmela assisted local convenience stores in curbing their reliance on single-use plastics, which include individual packets of shampoo, coffee, and laundry detergent. These particular plastic items amount to approximately 60 billion units annually in the Philippines. Through the introduction of "Wala Usik" or "Zero Waste" convenience stores, customers were empowered to use reusable containers filled from dispensers, avoiding the need for single-use plastic packaging while still enjoying the convenience and adaptability of individual portions. Impressively, within just seven months, this initiative led to a reduction of over 45,000 pieces of single-use plastics being sold.
Dana Marie Perez
In 2019, Dana Marie Perez, CEO and Founder of Sustainability Hero and Content Creator at Sustainable Living by Dana, launched a campaign called "McDonalds: Prioritize Sustainability Now!" in which she took on the world's largest fast-food chain. The main goal of the campaign was to urge the company to make sustainability a top priority, emphasizing that the public is not willing to sacrifice our future for the sake of profits. Additionally, Perez aimed to spread awareness that it is possible to take a firm stance against all types of environmental exploitation.
The campaign successfully gathered over 700 signatures, enabling Perez to submit the petition to 16 McDonald's branches across three different countries. As a result of these efforts, the fast-food chain has been compelled to make sustainable changes. They have begun transitioning to reusable cutlery, adopting paper straws instead of plastic ones, and reducing the use of plastic bags in their operations.
In the quest for a greener future, Anna Varona believes that the key lies in transforming mindsets and instilling a profound appreciation for the environment. Currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Haribon Foundation, her mission revolves around recognizing communities as vital custodians of nature.
Beyond her significant role at Haribon Foundation, Anna is also the visionary founder behind the impactful Clean Our Oceans Project. This organization stands as a steadfast champion for environmental preservation, educating people on the significance of responsible consumer behavior and offering pragmatic solutions for a cleaner world.
Anna's influence in environmental conservation extends even further. Notably, she was instrumental in halting OKADA's 150k balloon drop in 2018, as she personally engaged with the organizers, just two days before the planned event, these balloons were then transformed into hollow blocks.
Through her inspiring efforts and unwavering commitment, Anna exemplifies the true spirit of environmental stewardship and reminds us all of the profound impact each individual can make in safeguarding our planet.
Gender inequalities have cast a long shadow, leaving women more vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. But the story doesn't end here. As these amazing Filipinas have shown, there’s a glimmer of hope. By including female voices in climate action initiatives and decision-making processes, we're tapping into a goldmine of perspectives and paving the way for solutions that could lead to a stronger, more resilient future.