Women, Money, Power, Politics: Leading the Environmental, Social, and Economic Charge

Guest Blog by Tara Holmes, Communications and Marketing Manager, Future 500

More and more, across ethnic, racial, class, and geographic divides, it’s clear that women are playing the driving role influencing social, economic, and environmental policy. This role comes as no surprise as globally, according to the UN, women are most directly impacted by a changing climate and therefore have more at stake, and more to lose. 

Women are driving this movement on numerous fronts, many of which are undervalued and unaccounted for. Across the world, women continue to play the predominant caretaker and provider, making the connection to the planet and natural resources that much more meaningful and tangible. When droughts overtake a region, or when catastrophic flooding sweeps away livelihoods, the very fabric of a community is threatened—and who maintains the glue to these same communities? Women.

Women as a whole also comprise the majority of the planet’s rural poor and are reliant on resources more intimately than their industrialized counterparts.  As Future 500’s Shilpi Chhotray wrote in YES Magazine regarding the budding Indian seaweed industry, “women often play a large role in seaweed farming, which in many cases is the only source of cash income available to them and the first paid work they've ever had.”

In short, across cultural and geographic boundaries, women are the key stewards of the planet. And it’s clear that women have a vested stake in policies that impact both the planet and their community. But is their voice being heard and are those in power recognizing their demands? Turns out, at least in the United States, women voters are some of the loudest and most passionate, representing 53 percent of total voter turnout for the 2012 presidential election, subsequently putting Barack Obama in office. In addition, in the United States, women currently make up 40 percent of breadwinners in families and that number is only continuing to rise. According to the Pew Research Center, four out of 10 American households with children under age 18 are headed by a mother who is the primary earner for the family.

That said, the wage gap is alive and well, with women typically earning anywhere from 64-90% of their male counterparts in the U.S. This disparity is not only unjust and unfair, but it paints women as second-class citizens when they are obviously anything but. Never mind in other lesser-developed areas of the world, where equal pay and voting rights continue to allude and women’s voices remain suppressed and even ignored. It’s time to change.

With so much at stake given climate change, and with so much clout in the global economy, women should be recognized for their ability to both influence and drive global change, and should have a more prominent—and valued—say in what ultimately gets decided.

Join Future 500, a proud delegate of the Global Summit 2014, for a three-day event in San Francisco where the intersection of Women, Money, Power and Politics will be discussed.  Learn how empowered women are transforming business as usual to unlock the “potential of humanity.”  Get tickets and learn more here.

Tara Holmes is the Communications and Marketing Manager at Future 500, a global nonprofit specializing in stakeholder engagement and building bridges between parties at odds—often corporations and NGOs, the political right and left, and others—to advance systemic solutions to urgent sustainability challenges.