Op-Ed | To solve the climate crisis, we need to elect more women

Central Park in spring
Photo via Getty Images

Since electing a record number of women to the New York City Council, New York has pioneered some of the most forward-thinking policy solutions in the country, paving a path forward for other municipalities to follow and setting an example for what authentic representation can accomplish.

Addressing gender inequalities and building political power for women is not only a matter of justice and human rights, but also critical to facing the climate emergency. Women’s leadership is crucial to delivering results on climate resilience.  That’s why this Earth Day, preserving a historic women-majority on our city council is climate work. The women in power in New York have shown a clear commitment to prioritizing the climate crisis and building resilience and sustainability, equitably, into our City. It’s all connected.  

Women are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, particularly in developing countries where they often have limited access to resources and opportunities. The trend holds true in New York where women, and more often women of color, are on the front lines fighting for change in vulnerable communities that suffer increasingly worse heat waves, high rates of asthma and hospitalization and flooding. Women are taking the lead on efforts to deal with the aftermath of increasingly powerful hurricanes like Hurricane Ida, which caused waves of flooding and road closures that still affect New Yorkers months later. Despite their resolve, women around the world continue to be excluded from decision-making processes related to climate change, and as a result, global policies and solutions do not always adequately consider the real needs to build resilience. 

One of The New Majority NYC’s bottom-line issues for endorsed candidates is to demonstrate support for a safe, livable, sustainable, equitable and resilient New York City. Women are often the first to feel the impacts of a changing climate and are therefore at the forefront of adaptation efforts. In New York City, we need to take real action by planting trees to minimize heat island effects, fighting for renewable infrastructure to stave off asthma in affected communities, and building flood-resistant public transportation infrastructure. Studies have already shown that organizations with more women in leadership have more positive environmental impacts and have a stronger focus on corporate social responsibility. It makes sense, then, that empowering women can lead to better environmental outcomes and more sustainable development, as women tend to prioritize investments in education, health, and the environment—and that means ensuring that women have a seat in the halls of power, including City Hall. 

This Earth Day, The New Majority NYC is recommitting its efforts to help elect women across New York City. Because we know that climate issues will have the greatest impact on the next generation of leaders, our Young Leadership Council has already begun mobilizing to enact real change. We’re investing in young leadership to build a foundation for the future. Climate resilience in New York must start at the local level; that’s why the 2023 elections are so important. Together, a women-centered and women-led city government can make significant impacts on our climate crisis and move New York towards a greener, more sustainable future.