The instability of climate change often causes natural disasters to affect poor communities the most. This in turn, also affects women in large numbers. Despite being just under 50% of the world’s population, women make up around 70% of those living below the poverty line.Globally, experts have said that women are the first to feel the negative effects of the environmental crisis.
Traditionally, women in these areas often have many roles from family care, domestic work, to certain agricultural work . Yet despite the hours of labour going into their communities, women are underrepresented in decision making. Women also generally at the blunt end of food shortages and other natural disasters.
Young girls are also impacted, generally being the first of their families to receive calorie deficit or be pulled out of school.
How Trees Can Help
From the selection of each seedling to a full grown plant, each step of the tree process has something to offer to the community it is in.
The first step in tree planting, and one that doesn’t ever end, is education. When choosing which trees to plant and where to plant them requires knowledge. Reforestation promotes gender equality in this first step, by listening to local women. With a say in the process, women choose trees that will provide for them and their families as well as best areas to plant.
Not only does this increase gender equality in terms of agency and decision-making, it has the potential to help communities meet their caloric needs, so there isn’t a need for anyone in the area to have a deficit.
Knowledge is also a key component. Tree planting provides a platform for education, even informally, that teaches girls and boys of younger generations not only wise planting decisions, but how to best care for these trees in the future.
Planting also provides a barrier against climate change and degradation. Trees directly help reduce the planet’s carbon footprint by taking it out of the air, working to fight against its negative effects. Since women are often heavily affected by climate change, this helps to lower the rates of those whose lives are disrupted.
Trees also provide barriers to natural disasters, and help increase biodiversity of an area to create a more sustainable ecosystem.
See how trees support all sustainable development goals here.