Environmental Issues Discussion Series: Climate Change

On January 18, we launched our environmental issues discussions series with a conversation about one of the biggest environmental issues of them all – climate change. We were joined by Julia-Maria Becker, Senior Analyst with the Pembina Institute, and welcomed over 80 women to the Centre. Julia-Maria gave us the lowdown on climate change, its current and future impacts, and how we can work to minimize them. After that, the Women’s Centre team gave a presentation on how to use a gender lens. We then worked as a group to identify how climate change impacts women.

Here were some of the topics we discussed:

What is climate change?

In the words of Julia-Maria, climate change is a shift in weather patterns lasting over long period of time (think in decades or millions of years). What scientists have found are that the current changes in the Earth’s climate patterns are due to an increase in greenhouse gases from human activities. The impacts of climate change are wide-ranging, and can cause or fuel everything from natural disaster, to water shortages, to conflict and the displacement of people. Click here to view Julia’s full presentation, courtesy of the Pembina Institute, which explores the impact of climate change in Alberta.

Gender and climate change – making connections

Julia-Maria also shared this chart with us, which draws the connections between gender inequalities around the world, and the ways in which they are widened by problems caused by climate change (like access to water and natural disaster). If you’re a woman living in the developing or developed world, climate change is going to impact you in different ways. Social structures that create disadvantages for women make them more vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.

The gender lens as a tool for understanding the impact of climate change

As a part of our Work for Change area at the Women’s Centre, we use a gender lens as a tool to understand systems and inform policies that impact women. At our climate change discussion, we watched this short video, which outlines the value of a gender lens. In the same way we cannot understand issues of wage inequality in Alberta without first applying a gender lens, we cannot understand the impacts of climate change and other environmental issues on women without first applying a gender lens to climate change. To better understand this, we watched a video which explores the connections between gender and climate change in the developing world. We then practiced applying a gender lens to climate related issues here in Alberta, including food security, energy poverty, and even affordable housing.

What comes next?
In her presentation, Julia-Maria shared with us the strategies, both big and small, that we can use to combat climate change. At the Women’s Centre, we recognize  climate change and environmental issues impact everyone, including women in our community. We are excited to be hosting a series of environmental issues discussions series this year, with the goal of bringing accessible, engaging workshops and discussions to theCentre, and inviting members of our community to apply a gender lens to environmental issues. These discussions will be held on the third Wednesday of each month. Join us and our friends from Rhubarb Collective for our next environmental issues discussion on food security, on February 15.

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