Why climate change is a feminist issue.

Why climate change is a feminist issue.

Sarah Lux-Lee is the founder of Mindr. When she's not brainstorming events and workshops for interesting humans where crying babies are welcome, she's hanging out at the swings with her daughter, Ella. This article was originally published on the United Nations Foundation's Global Moms Challenge blog. You can see the original post here.

When ocean levels rise, when harvests fail, when natural disasters disrupt communities and claim lives, we are all affected. So it might seem unusual to talk about climate change as part of the global women’s rights agenda. Delve a little deeper, though, and it is impossible to deny that climate change is an issue that uniquely affects the world’s women – and one where we are uniquely empowered to have an impact.

A 2015 report by Georgetown University found that “climate change is a global challenge that burdens all humanity, but not equally.” Women are disproportionately affected by environmental changes for many reasons.

For one thing, women make up the majority of the world’s poor and are responsible for most of the agricultural work and food production in many countries. This increases their personal and economic vulnerability to lost harvests, which result from changes in temperature, floods and droughts. In many countries, women also bear primary care responsibilities for families and communities, and when resources become scarce, the burden of this (often unpaid) care work increases. Because women often have lesser access to resources, they are also likely to be the last to leave when a natural disaster occurs – a 2007 study by the London School of Economics found that natural disasters are more likely to kill women than men.

What’s more, even though the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) now formally recognizes women’s unique vulnerability to climate change, in many countries they are still excluded from the seats of power where decisions about environmental sustainability are made. In the European Union, for example, it is estimated that women hold only about a quarter of climate change related decision-making positions.

Despite these challenges, women are banding together around the world in grassroots efforts to protect and preserve the environment and mitigate the impacts of climate change. In the developing world, women are collaborating on seed-saving initiatives, sharing traditional ecological knowledge, and engaging in skills-sharing and development programs within their communities. In OECD countries, women are more likely to be “sustainable consumers,” committed to recycling, buying organic produce, and choosing energy-efficient public transport options. 

Climate change affects all of us, but its impacts on women are especially pronounced. We can all do more to mitigate our own impact on the environment, and to rally our communities around broader, systemic changes. Will you choose the bus over a car?  Volunteer for a community garden? Write to your local representative to demand clean energy commitments? Donate to sustainability projects in the countries that need them most? Whichever course of action you choose, each of us is empowered to make a difference – and as people committed to protecting and promoting women’s rights and safety, we must.

Want to learn more about climate change and gender? Join Mindr in New York on September 6th in conversation with Eleanor Blomstrom, Co-Director and Head of Office of WEDO, a global women’s advocacy organization that promotes gender equality and sustainability. Get your tickets here

The #mindrmama guide to expat parenting

The #mindrmama guide to expat parenting

#Mindrmama Anna Johnson is an Australian public lawyer living in London who, when she's not chasing her one-year-old around, can be found reading, volunteering at the Baytree Centre, or discussing feminist issues with friends over a glass of wine.

When I moved from my home in Australia to the United Kingdom four years ago, I was sure I would never have a baby overseas - this was something I would wait to do back at home, in familiar surroundings. But somewhere along the line my concept of "home" and familiarity changed, and our son, Oscar, was born in June 2016. 

It was a quintessential London arrival – in a room in a public hospital on the banks of the Thames, overlooking the Houses of Parliament.  I received impeccable pre- and post-natal care on the National Health Service, all entirely free.  Best of all, my parents and sister flew to London just before the birth, and stayed for several weeks afterwards.  It was a wrench saying goodbye when they left. 

Since then, although there have been ups and downs, our little family has thrived.  Despite some downsides to raising children in London – high living costs, tiny apartments, and terrible weather to name a few – I’ve seen a side to the city that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen.  I’ve discovered playgrounds, learned English nursery rhymes, discovered a world of children’s activities at the city’s fantastic museums and galleries, and met some incredible parent friends. 

Now we are moving back home to Australia, and I’ve had cause to reflect on my time as a foreign parent in a new city.  Here’s my advice for parenting far from home – whether it’s London, New York, or somewhere else entirely. 

1.     Do your research

As an expat, you don’t have all the accumulated knowledge of someone who has grown up in your adopted city, so you have a bit of catching up to do.  That’s okay – find friends of friends who live in your new home and pick their brains, bring along a list of questions for your midwife or doctor, take prenatal classes, and scour the internet. Better yet, while you are pregnant, use the time to get connected with people in your new city who have recently had a baby (preferably another expat, who has been where you are now) – they’ll be a wealth of information and recommendations, and someone to explore your new city with!      

2.     Get out of the house

Your baby’s arrived and they are amazing.  Take some time to recognize what an extraordinary thing you have done.  And when you feel up to it, drag yourself outside.  Yes, it will take ages to pack everything up, and your baby will probably throw up on you just as you walk out the door.  Never mind.  Just getting out once a day is enough. 

This is when your research will pay off – is there an app or website or Twitter account in your city with a list of baby-friendly activities?  For me, socializing with other parents was a lifesaver.  Parenting, especially with a young baby, can be very isolating, and since I didn’t grow up here, I had to make new mum friends.  For many months, I regularly attended Rhyme Time at a local library with my mothers’ group.  This was less about the singing and more about the opportunity to have an adult conversation, share tips, and get a coffee afterwards.  Through this session, we met other parents and expanded our group.  Even now, I’m still making new friends with other parents whom I meet at children’s centers, at local cafes, at the baby cinema or even in the park.  And that’s why I was excited to help establish a Mindr community in London, bringing parents together in a stimulating environment where crying babies are welcome.

3.     Stay connected to home

Before the baby, I found it hard having to cram all my Skype and FaceTime catch-ups with people back home into my weekends.  To my surprise, staying in touch was actually easier while I was on maternity leave, and I was able to speak to my mother almost every day, usually while breastfeeding.  This is also one of those occasions when time differences can become a silver lining! 

Now that my son is older, I’m really pleased that he is able to "see" our family over video chat, and that he can recognize their faces as well as their voices.  We have photos on our fridge and talk to him a lot about his grandparents and aunts and uncles. 

4.     Accept help

Without regular family support, you’re going to need your friends more than ever.  We were incredibly lucky to have a number of close friends who came over in those early months, brought ingredients, and cooked us dinner – and then washed up.  Other visiting friends would offer to do a load of laundry, or hold the baby while we went and had a nap.  Even though few of them had their own kids, they knew enough to know that this was helpful.  When someone says, "What can I do?", give them a task!  Honestly, people like to be useful.  Which brings me to…

5.     Pay it forward

… helping others.  When one of my best friends back home had twins five years ago, I would visit regularly and play with the babies.  But I didn’t know anyone else with kids, and was completely clueless.  I never once offered to put on a load of laundry or wash the dishes.  As soon as I had a newborn on my hands, I realised how useless I had been at the time.  Since I can’t make it up to my friend, and now that I realise what it’s like, I’ve resolved to pay it forward to other expat parents! 

Are you a Londoner or an expat living in London? Come to our second Mindr community event and hear from Dr. Fran Tonkiss of the LSE about inequality and the city. Join us to expand your mind and meet other parents in an environment where curiosity is queen and crying babies are welcome.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

#Mindrmama Hollyn Baron is the founder of PS I’m From The Midwest, a site that offers a glimpse into Hollyn’s  life as a Brooklyn mom celebrating fashion, parenting, and all the best that comes out of the Midwest. Here, she shares her reflections on the role of friendship in shaping her experience of motherhood.

"Girlfriendship" has always been incredibly important to me.  When I was 22 years old I had just moved to Brooklyn. I was living with three of my best friends, and we were inseparable. We would sleep in each other's rooms, share our best wardrobe items and be exactly who we were at that moment in our lives. Everything in my life revolved around this sisterhood that had been so easily created. 

Six years later, we were all still best friends, but everyone had moved out of Brooklyn, and I was still living in the same neighborhood. Except now I was expecting a baby girl, and I no longer had my sisterhood. Without any friends nearby, I tried to tell myself my baby girl would be my best friend, but I felt lonely and knew that I both wanted and needed a circle of friends to support and nurture me as my life was about to change. 

I joined a parenting network to access their classifieds list and read more about nanny shares. Unbeknowst to me, I was also put into an "August Babies Group". Magically, I received an invite to an "August Moms" meetup at someone's house. I was nervous about being the only Bravo TV-watching, Splenda-consuming-type mom at the meet up.  I put my nerves aside, put on my big girl pants (a.k.a. my cleanest pair of maternity pants), and went. 

Fast forward two years and I have a solid group of ten friends (yes, they are also moms) and they all live within walking distance. We group-text, know each other's Seamless favorites, "have a few-too-many" at 5:00pm on Fridays, and refer to our group as a "tribe". I love my new sisters and have become a true-life mom meetup success story. 

When I was invited to Mindr's recent networking event for entrepreneurs and marketing experts, I knew it was another chance to build my tribe. I was excited to be able to connect with Brooklyn-based, social-savvy moms who have their own businesses or side-hustle. The most exciting part, in addition to gorging on tea and scones from The Pastel Co., was the ability to make friends with other mothers who share similar interests with me outside of motherhood. No longer did I have to search through the moms who so just happened to give birth in a similar time frame to find like-minded people. The added bonus was that no one minded my toddler licking all the toys. 

If you haven't jumped into the Mindr scene, I can't recommend it enough. It's not organic sunscreen recs and diapers. I promise you will find other women like you, whether you're looking for a #momboss or a #sahm. Everyone deserves a girl gang and motherhood isn't one size fits all, so it's time to find your tribe.

Looking for like-minded parents? Come along to a Mindr event, and check out these other spots we love:

Peanut, an app for finding like-minded mamas near you

Nibble and Squeak, which opens the doors of the world's best restaurants to you and your babe

Fatherly on why it's hard to make friends with other parents

Why moms should network with other moms

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