Klima Kabisayaan: Taking women out of the shadows in climate change

By Paula Bernasor


Imagine that our planet is like a big house that we all live in. And just like in a house, we need to take care of it and keep it clean so that we can live happily and healthily. But right now, our house is getting very dirty because of something called climate change. Climate change is making the Earth get warmer and warmer, and it’s causing lots of problems for people, animals, and plants.

Now, imagine that some people are good at cleaning and taking care of the house. These people are women! Studies have shown that when more women are in charge of making decisions about the environment, they pass better laws to protect it. If we want to fix the problem of climate change and keep our houses clean, we need more women to help lead the way! Does that make sense?

Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of the twenty-first century. Based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is evident that people who are already most vulnerable and marginalized will also experience the greatest impacts. 

Women are increasingly recognized as being more susceptible to the effects of climate change compared to men. This is mainly because women make up a significant proportion of the world’s poor population and are relatively more reliant on endangered natural resources.

The disparity between men and women can also be observed in their distinct roles, responsibilities, decision-making abilities, access to land and natural resources, opportunities, and requirements, all of which are influenced by their gender.

Moreover, according to the United Nations, women encounter greater barriers than men when it comes to accessing resources such as land, credit, agricultural inputs, decision-making structures, technology, and training and extension services. These limitations hinder their ability to adapt to climate change effectively.

Women’s vulnerability to climate change stems from several factors—social, economic, and cultural.

According to the United Nations, 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in conditions of poverty are women. In urban areas, 40% of the poorest households are headed by women.

Women predominate in the world’s food production (50%-80%), but they own less than 10% of the land. Because of this, women do not get the chance to participate in critical decision-making processes to address climate change impacts.
Women face several challenges when it comes to leadership roles. One of the biggest challenges is being treated equally. This means that women often face discrimination and bias that can make it harder for them to be taken seriously and to advance in their careers. Another challenge is building a sisterhood. This means that women often face a lack of support from other women, which can make it harder for them to succeed in leadership roles.
Women also face challenges in balancing their personal and professional lives. For example, women may be more likely to take on caregiving responsibilities for children or elderly relatives, which can impact their ability to devote time and energy to their careers.
There are many challenges that women face when it comes to leadership roles. But by recognizing and addressing these challenges, we can help more women succeed as leaders.
What are some benefits of having more women in leadership roles?
Women bring fresh perspectives and diverse experiences to the table. This can lead to better decision-making and more innovation.
Women also tend to lead more effectively. They are often more empathetic and better communicators than men, which can help them to build stronger teams and foster a more positive work environment.
Having more women in leadership roles can also help to bridge the gender pay gap. When women are in positions of power, they can advocate for fair pay and equal treatment for all employees.
Women make amazing mentors. They can provide guidance and support to other women who are starting their careers or looking to advance into leadership roles.
Having more women in leadership roles benefits everyone. It leads to better decision-making, a more positive work environment, and greater equality for all employees.
How can organizations promote gender diversity and create an environment where women can thrive in leadership roles?
One way is to educate themselves and their teams on issues related to the workplace gender gap. This means understanding the challenges that women face and working to address them.
Another way is to implement gender diversity training. This can help employees understand the importance of gender diversity and learn how to promote it in the workplace.
Organizations can also prioritize fair compensation practices. This means ensuring that women are paid equally for doing the same work as men. They can also develop equitable policies that support gender diversity.
Additionally, organizations can analyze their recruitment process to ensure that they are considering women candidates for leadership roles. They can also pay attention to data to track their progress toward achieving gender diversity.
Overall, promoting gender diversity requires a commitment from organizations to create a supportive and inclusive environment where women can thrive in leadership roles.
How can girls like you start your journey into becoming environmental leaders and how can the government further support you?
Girls can start their journey to becoming environmental leaders by educating themselves on the issues related to climate change and the environment. This can include learning about the science behind climate change, as well as the social and political issues that impact the environment.
Girls can also get involved in environmental activism and advocacy. This can include joining environmental organizations, participating in protests and demonstrations, and speaking out about environmental issues.
The government can support girls in becoming environmental leaders by providing educational opportunities and resources on environmental issues. This can include funding for environmental education programs and initiatives that encourage girls to pursue careers in environmental fields.
Additionally, the government can support girls by promoting gender equality and ensuring that women are represented in decision-making processes related to the environment. This can include increasing the representation of women in government and ensuring that their voices are heard when it comes to making decisions about the environment.
How does The Climate Reality Project Philippines support women and girl leaders?
The Climate Reality Project Philippines support women and girl leaders by empowering and helping them bring their voices, perspectives, and projects to life. The organization also walks the talk on women’s leadership being headed by Nazrin Camille Castro and a team that is majority composed of women. 
Climate Reality Philippines also ensures that there is equal representation in all aspects of our programs. Over the years we have supported several projects led by women, especially in the Visayas. To name a few: (1) Klima Eskwela Palapag organized by Climate Reality Leader Katreen Castillo; (2) Rig-on (resilient in Waray): Klima Eskwela with Guiuan Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan; (3) Klima ug Kalikupan Webinar Series led by Climate Reality Leaders Dr. Mydah Kabingue and Eva Jonah Mari H. Enojas; and (4) Delikado Community Screening and Pebble Poem Workshop led by Climate Reality Leader Mitzi Peñaflorida.
How can you support women in leadership roles in the environmental sector?
There are several ways you can support women in leadership roles in the environmental sector. 
First, by educating yourself on the issues that women face in leadership roles and advocate for gender equality in the workplace.
Second, by promoting their work and achievements. This can include sharing their accomplishments on social media, attending events where they are speaking, and recommending them for awards and recognition.
And third, by providing mentorship and guidance. This can include offering advice and support to women who are starting their careers in the environmental sector or who are looking to advance into leadership roles.
Supporting women in leadership roles, especially in the environmental sector requires a commitment to promoting gender equality and creating an environment where women can thrive as leaders.
Women in many developing countries suffer gender inequalities with respect to human rights, political and economic status, land ownership, housing conditions, exposure to violence, education, and health but we can change this by increasing our own awareness and starting from our own communities.

Paula Bernasor is the Visayas Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. She is a Climate Reality Philippines Leader and Mentor, Chapter Director for Startup Grind Cebu, and a volunteer for Project Sharklink and Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project. She previously worked as an Associate for Partnerships for Rare Organisation’s Fish Forever in the Philippines. She started Project Library in the Philippines, a grassroots movement that helps underprivileged communities in remote areas gain access to books and reading materials, as well as Ocean Love Philippines, which uses social media to spread awareness on pressing environmental issues and to promote a sustainable lifestyle and the circular economy. 


Klima Kabisayaan is a space that aims to amplify the climate stories and initiatives of the more than 300 Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders in Visayas.

It is one of the regular columns launched by The Climate Reality Project Philippines to elevate the climate discourse and strengthen climate action across all regions in the Philippines.