The Northwest Territories evacuation order for Yellowknife and British Columbia’s declared provincewide state of emergency are the latest additions to Canada’s record-breaking reports on wildfire devastation. With over 13.4 million hectares of land burned, the severity of Canadian wildfires is undoubtedly a result of climate change. Rising greenhouse gas emissions and global temperatures have led to extreme heat and dry conditions, creating an extraordinary scale of wildfire disaster.
What does this mean for women and gender-diverse people? How does climate change relate to gender-equity?
Women and gender-diverse people are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change, particularly those who experience overlapping marginalized identities, including race, class, disability, homelessness, location, and Indigeneity.
Women and gender-diverse people are more likely to have lower incomes, greater caregiving responsibilities, mobility constraints, and fewer access to climate mitigation and adaptation knowledge. They are also more likely to experience violence following climate-related events and have less access to financial or life-sustaining resources. These factors collaborate to increase vulnerabilities to climate disasters and create significant barriers when accessing information on wildfire preparedness and resources for evacuation.
Gender also impacts emergency climate responses and is often defined by perceived gender roles and division of labour. Canadian wildfire management and firefighting industry reflect this, with less than 10 percent of Parks Canada fire crew members being women. Cultures of violence and discrimination against women and gender-diverse people are normalized within the firefighting industry, seen through growing reports of sexual harassment, sexual and transphobic perceptions of leadership, and overwhelming mistreatment of women and gender-diverse people.
Meanwhile, women and gender-diverse people outside of emergency frontline responses are involved in community rebuilding efforts and post-disaster caregiving – areas that are undervalued, underpaid, and without recognition.
Despite the unequal and gendered impacts of climate disasters, Canada’s climate plans and policies do not reflect gender considerations, nor is there clear engagement and participation of women and gender-diverse people in climate-related decision-making. The absence of gender-perspective in climate policy leaves women and gender-diverse people trapped in cycles of perpetual inequality, as well as entire communities that could benefit from gender-responsive climate solutions.
Women and gender-diverse people have a key role in building stronger and more resilient communities in the face of climate change. As wildfires and other climate-induced disasters continue to shape our everyday lives, it is critical to think about climate change as gendered.
If you are a woman or gender-diverse person fleeing wildfires and need support and/or resources in Calgary, please find them below:
1. Disaster and Emergency Resources
For immediate assistance in any emergency, please call 911
Red Cross: Disaster Relief and Support Helpline
Toll Free #: 1-888-800-6493
Salvation Army Helpline
Disaster Response Network
2. Mental Health Resources
NWT Help Line
Kids Help Phone
1-800-668-6868 or text “CONNECT” to 6868
Wellness Together Canada
1-867-585-0445 (adults) and 1-888-668-6810 (youth)
Canada Suicide Prevention Service
First Nation and Inuit Hope for Wellness
1-855-242-3310 or chat online
3. Community Resource Centres
Women’s Centre of Calgary
39 – 4th Street NW
403-264-1155 | womenscentrecalgary.org
Women in Need Society (WINS)
Bridgeland: (403) 290-0210
Erin Woods: (403) 235-4567
Temple: (403) 590-5752
Dover: (403) 255-5102
4. Food Resources
Alex Community Food Centre
403-455-5792 | email@example.com
Wing Kei Village
4120 Centre St NE
149 5 Ave SE, Calgary, Alberta
3751 21 St NE | 403-538-0135