Women Leaders: Ignoring Climate Change Is Like Sending ‘A Child With A 105 Fever’ To School

CREDIT: Lori Waselchuk/Flickr

Delegates at the International Women's Earth and Climate Summit

Delegates at the International Women's Earth and Climate Summit

Delegates at the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit

CREDIT: Lori Waselchuk/Flickr

Women leaders are adding their voices to activists calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

Delegates to the 2013 International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative Summit, which took place Sept. 20 – 23, sent a letter to Obama this week urging him to “choose a better future” for the planet by saying no to the pipeline.

“We know that no single project causes or constrains climate change. But there is no single project in North America that is more significant than Keystone XL in terms of the carbon emissions it would unleash,” the letter reads. “Climate change affects everyone and everything, but as women and as citizens of the US, Canada and many other countries, we know that the world’s most vulnerable are suffering and will continue to suffer for the failure to act on climate.”

The delegates are a group of 100 women from more than 35 countries, all of whom are part of the International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative, an organization that’s focused on engaging women to find solutions to environmental problems around the world. The IWECI Summit focused on finding those solutions and including them in a declaration, in which the delegates urge leaders to make climate change a priority by putting a price on carbon, cancelling plans for future carbon extraction, prioritizing climate adaptation and investing heavily in clean energy, among other appeals.

“This summit was a summons to women around the world to come into force with their collective will and collective solutions, because internationally the solutions put forward by decision-makers are not equivalent to the climate crisis,” summit co-founder Sally Ranney said on a press call Tuesday. “The world is headed towards 4 degrees centigrade – that’s 7.2 degrees F. This is like having a child with a 105 fever and you give her a pat on the head and an aspirin and send her off to school and expect her to function normally, while permanent damage is taking place.”

Osprey Orielle Lake, another co-founder of the summit, said women’s leadership in the climate movement has been “one of the most important, untold stories of climate change.” Women are often affected most by climate change — especially in developing countries where they’re responsible for 60 to 80 percent of food production. Women are the ones who are forced to change crops along with the changing weather or struggle to find water amidst a drought.

Women’s inability to find food or water for their families affects children most of all — a new report has found children will suffer the effects of climate change more than adults. The report found that climate change will cause 25 million children to be malnourished by 2050, and 100 million more will suffer from food insecurity.

The delegates hope that, now that the summit is over, women will be empowered to stand up and address climate change within their own communities.

“This really is about gender justice and climate justice,” Ranney said. “Women are stepping up to the plate, and this summit is going to accelerate and connect the legions of networks behind women’s movement.”