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Save the women, save the world

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Europe has seen massive waves of protests and strikes to save the planet--all started by young women.

Belgium, Germany, and Sweden have seen numerous efforts by students and women in particular to call for a better and faster end to climate change this past year.  Just last week, a young woman led a climate march in Brussels, Belgium, which brought together over 100,000 people and created an uproar across Europe.

The organizers hope to spark new methods and efforts to fight climate change in Europe. Jamie Margolin, the 17-year-old founder of Zero Hour, a group leading efforts to bring the protests into the US, believes that this kind of activism is giving young women a voice: “There aren’t very many spaces that I can be in charge of, and what I’m going to say is going to be heard,” Margolin said.

Some students have even boycotted attending school until there is a better solution to the climate issue. Greta Thundberg from Sweden has been doing just that: “We are on a school strike for the climate. … We urge everyone to do the same wherever you are,” she said. “Sit outside your Parliament or local government building until your nation is on a safe pathway to a below two-degree warming target.”

Women have an especially strong voice in this matter, particularly when one recognizes that they are a minority in governments around the world. "The decision-makers on climate remain overwhelmingly men. When the UN touted a new focus on gender in the Polish climate talks last year, the best it could come up with was that “more than half” of the working groups hammering out the accord had “female representation of 38 per cent or more,” said Katrien Van der Heyden, a 51-year-old sociologist who specializes in gender equality.

Older women, younger women, and students from all over the globe are stepping up to protect not only our planet but our rights to equal representation.