Does Gender Affect Our Approaches to Climate Breakdown?

Image: Local Green Belt Movement members survey their work. Credit: USAID/Neil Thomas


Today, GENDER.ED teams up with the Edinburgh Earth Initiative to share our toolkit on gender sensitive research. 

The core message of our toolkit on gender sensitive research, is that gender is relevant in most research, even STEMM projects and especially those with an applied focus. There’s a simple reason for this. Gender, along with other axes of inequality such as race, class, caste and disability, structures the distribution of power, advantage and disadvantage. Any technology and any social or political challenge will interact with these pre-existing inequalities. That includes climate breakdown and that’s why GENDER.ED has teamed up with the Edinburgh Earth Initiative (EEI).

EEI promotes interdisciplinary collaboration to tackle climate breakdown and promote climate justice, and the 2023 intake of Climate Fellows will receive a training from GENDER.ED team members Dr Rosalind Cavaghan and Dr Claire Duncanson, in the form of a reflexive workshop on gender and climate breakdown. We’ll explore how policy makers have responded to some of the most well-documented gender differences in vulnerability to disasters, such as women’s higher mortality rates during extreme weather events, or how INGOs sometimes target women as key change agents.

Most importantly though, we’ll be supplying EEI fellows with two skills.

Firstly, we’ll give EEI fellows the tools to go beyond broad assumptions about gender, adopting a nuanced, analytical, intersectional approach to work out how gender is relevant to their own specific project, using our toolkit.

Secondly, we’ll be helping fellows reflect on the ways gendered ideas are embedded in our perspectives on nature, the environment, technology, humans and all the relationships linking them.

Researchers and novelists like Anita Desai and Robin Wall Kimmerer help us understand how ideas about masculinity, femininity and sexuality are deeply embedded in our perspectives on nature. We’re not always aware of this, but examples range from creation myths, to whose knowledge we revere and our tolerance for ecological destruction! We’ll look at how these ideas feed into proposed solutions to climate breakdown. What kind of differences do we see between Crutzen’s suggestion to use guns, baloons and aircraft to inject sulphates into the stratosphere versus Wangari Maathai’s fifty year programme of Green Belt activism which linked grassroots tree planting initiatives to democracy and gender equality? What does this mean for how we tackle climate breakdown and what gives us the best chances of achieving climate justice?

If you think department or organisation could benefit from a training like this one – get in touch! At GENDER.ED we have a huge breadth of expertise and we’re always open to new interdisciplinary collaborations!