The climate emergency doesn’t affect everyone equally: After a climate-linked catastrophe like a hurricane, young girls in developing countries often have to drop out of school to help their families financially, or because their school has been directly destroyed. The irony is that educating girls—which results in a long list of positive outcomes, such as more access to family planning, more productive farms, lower incidents of disease—is a particularly effective, though often overlooked, way of fighting climate change
Now, the Malala Fund, the international nonprofit that was founded by Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, is starting to delve more deeply into the connections between climate change and educating girls. Apple, which runs its operations on 100% renewable energy and plans to be carbon neutral throughout its entire supply chain by 2030, is supporting the work with new funding.
“When we educate girls, and when we empower them and give them the quality education that they need, it actually helps us to tackle climate change because when girls are educated, they have fewer children,” Yousafzai told an audience at Web Summit 2020 today, on a virtual stage with Apple vice president Lisa Jackson. “They’re more economically independent. They can fight against these difficulties that climate change brings. They’re more resilient.”
In fact, Jackson says, educating girls is a critical part of the work that needs to happen on climate. “I don’t think we can emphasize enough that intersection—the fact that, if you look at studies, they’ve shown that the number one thing that we can do to impact the trajectory on climate change is to educate and empower girls and women,” she says.
In Assembly, a digital publication that Yousafzai started as a platform for young women to share stories, the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg just led an issue focused on climate change. Thunberg’s work has helped catalyze ambitious climate action globally, though she says that it hasn’t gone nearly far enough. “Girls and women are already making impacts, so I’m like: Just give room to girls and women, and they can change the world,” says Yousafzai.