Women, Climate Change and Cities: An Intersectional Perspective

Environment and Public Space, Gender

On March 5, Equity for Children co-sponsored an event on women, climate change and cities with the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, the Tishman Environment and Design Center and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO). The event highlighted the impact of climate change on women and girls. It featured conversations about the role of gender in the development of mitigation and adaptation solutions in the context of the urban environment.

Beatrice Mauger, Equity for Children Policy and External Relations Officer and former WEDO Fellow, presented original research on urban climate change policies and gender. A survey of 10 cities were featured in the research, which examined whether or not local climate change policies, plans or programs include a gendered approach. Findings highlighted the lack of a gender dimension in most cities that results in missed opportunities for leveraging women and girls’ specific skill sets and knowledge to devise appropriate climate change strategies.

Research recommendations:

  1. Address unequal power relations and promote the full participation and leadership of women in the decision-making process by ensuring that their needs, responsibilities, rights and agency are recognized at all institutional levels
  2. Introduce and strengthen gender equality measures in local policies
  3. Develop and disseminate guidance and best practices for city governments and policymakers
  4. Conduct additional research for possible entry points for including women and girls into policies
  5. Collect and use data disaggregated by gender, age and ethnicity and conduct additional research to evaluate the success of programs targeting women
  6. Conduct training programs and capacity-building that targets women and supports their role in implementing climate mitigation and adaptation policy

A panel discussion followed that included Ana Baptista, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management; Jean Gardner, Associate Professor of Social-Ecological History and Design,
School of Constructed Environments, Parsons the New School for Design; and Jalonne White-Newsome, Director of Federal Policy, WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

The speakers underscored the particular vulnerabilities of the most marginalized in our society, such as communities of color and children, who are most affected by climate change.  Ana Baptista highlighted the importance of marginalized communities raising their own solutions and not expecting local governments to do so. Jalonne White-Newsome underscored the need for communication among social justice movements and highlighted the fact that issues arising from climate change transcend concerns about environmental justice. She added that they touch on civil rights and justices that relate to race and gender. A series of questions brought the afternoon session to an end and focused on ways to engage climate deniers in the U.S. Congress as well as on the differences between women’s environmental movements in developing and developed countries. Ana Baptista emphasized how much women in the developing world have to share with women in the developed world, despite the former’s vulnerabilities.

This event is the first in a series of Equity for Children activities around the theme of climate change and inequality. Be on the lookout for more information regarding our Fall 2015 event addressing climate change, youth participation and sustainable solutions.

Download the research presentation slides here.

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