As a group, women and their potential contributions to economic advances, social progress and environmental protection has always been overlooked. Women, and other marginalised groups are at greater risk of experiencing severities arising of changing environmental conditions due to their social circumstances. Women are at times unable to voice their specific requirements even though the impact of climate change affect women and men differently. They are also denied full access to loans, education and information, especially in the developing nations.
The economic empowerment of women through climate mitigation and adaptation can foster economic growth and socioeconomic development. There, resulting in reduced poverty and control over environmental problems, benefitting all.
At present, sustainable businesses or organisations tends to focus on the area of sustainable production more than that of sustainable consumption practices. The sustainability aspect is limited - from producer to the product or service offered leaving the end user out of the bargain.
The idea of sustainable business is to shift the focus from economic and physical objectives to social and community concerns. Hence, social capital performs an important part in sustainability designs, thereby connecting the environmental value through the economic method.
India’s Sustainable Development through Women Empowerment, a project initiated by the Sustainable Design Research Consortium (SDRC), Kolkata, together with FES India, is aimed at developing an eco-system using, in strategy and materiality, sustainability framework for women entrepreneurs in West Bengal. On one hand, the project looks at increase participation of women (benefitting as well) in use of clean energy and climate mitigation by building their capacities for behavioural changes effecting energy usage. On the other hand, it aims at creation of a sustainable transformative change narrative where women benefit economically with fulfilment of environmentally sustainable targets.
To provide a comprehensive picture, the project started with identification of women leaders and change makers, an ecology analysis of women entrepreneurs in semi-organised and unorganised sectors and interviews of subject matter experts from various sectors, like science, education, law, business, in order to create an understanding of the sustainable practices, in the context of workplace or industry. This, together with sustainability analysis of selected women social entrepreneurs has resulted in preparation of a training module for application of Sustainability Framework which provides tools for climate mitigation through education women entrepreneurs and women-led enterprises.
Mandvi Kulshreshtha is Program Adviser of the Economy of Tomorrow project at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung India office in New Delhi.