DRAWDOWN Solutions 6-7: Educating Women & Girls, Family Planning

Cecilie Stuart

Some say that this is finally the era of the women’s empowerment and yet when we look at many societies including our own, there is a long way to go. The gender pay gap is still 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. In many parts of the world arranged marriages and extreme poverty hamper girl’s opportunities for education and advancement. 

How does educating women and girls impact our global Carbon Footprint and help reduce global warming? Addressing human population, Drawdown.org asks, “How many feet are leaving their tracks” on our planet? It’s a controversial subject that overlaps with social justice issues. Regardless, it is well accepted that greater numbers of human beings place more strain on the planet and its resources.

Honoring the dignity of women and children through education and family planning is not about governments forcing the birth rate down (or up). Nor is it about those in rich countries, where emissions are highest, telling people elsewhere to stop having children. When family planning focuses on healthcare provision and meeting women’s expressed needs, empowerment, equality, and wellbeing are the result; the benefits to the planet are side effects.

Access to education is critical to this outcome helping young girls find alternatives to early marriage and childrearing. 

Let’s talk impact:  Increased adoption of reproductive healthcare and family planning is an essential component to achieve the United Nations’ 2015 medium global population projection of 9.7 billion people by 2050. If investment in family planning, particularly in low-income countries, does not materialize, the world’s population could come closer to the high projection, adding another 1 billion people to the planet. Because educating girls has an important impact on the use of family planning, Drawdown.org allocates 50 percent of the total potential emissions reductions to each solution—51.48 gigatons apiece.

As we tackle reducing global warming, Drawdown inspires us to support women and girls both locally and globally as part of a comprehensive, scientifically based solution.


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