How Women Can Create Climate Solutions

By Sallie Krawcheck

I would guess we’re all thinking about climate change right now. That’s certainly the case for those of us on the Eastern seaboard, where the Canadian wildfires plunged us into what felt like the post-apocalypse last week. Eerie. 

While the smoke has lifted in the US, the wildfires have now burned through 9.4 million acres of land in Canada and continue to rage. And it’s not even summer yet. Scary. 

These wildfires are representative of the type of climate disasters that are shaking up ‌insurance markets, sending premiums soaring, and making it hard for homeowners to secure policies. So even if you didn’t cough your way through last week, all of us are being affected — or are on our way to being affected — by climate change. 

Make no mistake: Climate change impacts women the most.    

Women make up 80% of those affected by climate change. That’s because, globally, women are more likely to earn less and live in poverty. In most parts of the world, women take on the majority of agricultural labor. This means that, not only does the climate crisis put women’s homes and livelihoods in jeopardy, but their health too, with marginalized groups — especially women of color — feeling it the most. 

Despite this, women are underrepresented in organized leadership for action against climate change: At last year’s Conference of the Parties (COP), only 34% of committee members were women. 

Women can be a key part of the answer to climate change. 

To be more specific, lifting women up from an economic standpoint can be a key part of the answer to climate change. Maybe THE answer to climate change. In more ways than one. 

First, for example, women tend to do more with less. According to the UN, when women farmers (who make up nearly half of the agricultural labor force) have the same access to resources as men, they can increase agricultural yields by 20% to 30%. This boost in productivity “not only improves total agricultural output, but it can help to reduce world hunger by 12% to 17%.” 

Secondly, if women have greater financial equality with men, they and their families have fewer children. That means less tax on the earth. It’s that simple. 

Thirdly, women are more likely than men to believe in the negative effects of climate change; according to our 2022 Ellevest Financial Wellness survey, 62% of respondents cite climate change as a top financial concern. In fact, more women ranked it as a top financial concern above retirement planning (51%), credit card debt (46%), stock market (38%), and child care costs (30%).

And, lastly, women are more likely than men to use their wealth to fight climate change: They are more likely to donate to causes and groups that fight climate change (and tend to donate a larger portion of their wealth to non-profits than men do, overall). And, no surprise here, they are more likely to invest their money for positive climate impact. This presents an opportunity for us to take matters into our own hands through the decisions that we make with our money. (Here at Ellevest you don’t have to give up financial returns to invest for a positive impact. Opportunity for financial return and positive impact? Sounds pretty good to us.)

There’s still room for climate optimism.

Women stepping into their power, and recognizing that the use of our money is a vote — who we buy from, who we invest in, who we work for — can be a force for positive change. I’d like to hope that there’s still room for climate optimism and that we'll be able to transcend the barriers to create real change through our collective action.

Sallie Krawcheck Signature


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Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Founder & CEO of Ellevest.