In this interview, we are joined by Drawdown research fellow Alisha Graves to look at how women’s empowerment impacts global warming. Although the status of women is not an issue often linked to climate, both family planning and improving girl’s access to education are two desirable solutions that have a profound impact on population and consequently climate.
Population growth has been a dramatic trend of the past hundred years so that the global population is projected to be just under ten billion people by mid-century. While population growth is fastest in countries with very low per capita carbon footprints, the climate impact of keeping to the UN’s medium population target would be profound. Alisha navigates the subject’s sensitivities by describing how women’s empowerment presents human-rights based solutions that benefit women, development and the planet.
She tells us how improved access to family planning helps women decide if and when to become pregnant and allows for a greater quality of life for their families. Furthermore, education improves women’s standing in society and grants greater life opportunities thereby reducing the pressures for early marriage. Educated women have greater autonomy over their reproductive choices and can better navigate health systems so that they have fewer children. As well as outlining the benefits of women’s empowerment, Alisha also describes some of the key barriers and what we can learn from recent success stories.
Alisha Graves is a President of Venture Strategies for Health and Development (VSHD), a California-based non-profit organisation that aims to help stabilise global population through women’s empowerment. She is co-founder of the OASIS initiative at UC Berkeley and lecturers internationally on population and food security in the Sahel. She has also worked around women’s health issues, specifically on policy initiatives to improve maternal health and access to safe abortion.