Launched in 2017, Gender.Ed showcases and promotes the range, significance and excellence of teaching, research, knowledge exchange and impact in gender and sexualities studies at The University of Edinburgh. Through a range of interdisciplinary collaborations, Gender.Ed is currently focussing on building and sustaining communities of interest at all stages of student, researcher, and academic careers. Read more about their excellent work here:

Edinburgh Earth Initiative – A Discourse on Gender & Climate Crisis

At the Edinburgh Earth Initiative, we prioritise interdisciplinary approaches to climate action. As a part of this, on February 8, 2023, we teamed up with Dr Claire Duncanson and Dr Rosalind Cavaghan at Gender.Ed for a workshop that explored the interstices of gender and climate change. The workshop, hosted by the EEI, was attended by the February 2023 cohort of Earth Fellows.

The workshop covered a wide array of topics, ranging from the cultural implications of the symbolic coding of gender, the markedly gendered impact of climate change and natural calamities, and the difference between a pyramid v/s an interconnected and web ecosystem.

The Earth Fellows then paired up to reflect and contemplate the role of gender within their projects at the Edinburgh Earth Initiative, while also asking them to identify how and to what effect the discourses around climate change and gender collide. The Earth Fellows were introduced to a toolkit curated by the Gender.Ed team that can aid them in conducting a gender sensitive situational analysis that is very much the need of the hour.

The lively discussion also saw the Fellows draw on their respective disciplinary backgrounds, ranging from geosciences, social sciences, and the humanities to comment on the pre-workshop reading on the profound influence that pre-conceived notions of gender have on our and the society’s perception of climate change and its solutions.

Shattering bottom-up pyramid structures and abolishing systemic and cultural barriers

Reflecting on the workshop afterwards, our Earth Fellows identified the need to shatter the bottom-up pyramid structure that prevents women from assuming positions of leadership and voicing their opinions. Further, they acknowledged the need to abolish a lot of systemic and cultural barriers and address the gendered impact that many issues – climate disasters and catastrophes, for example – have on women. Building on this, the Fellows opined that we need to move away from making blanket statements and instead ensure that everyone is included in decision-making. They also touched upon the problematic reinforcement of ‘third world vulnerability’ narratives that lack cultural and contextual specificity, in addition to identifying the other issues involved in the bigger picture of gender and climate storytelling.

Marking the beginning of an all-important conversation on the deep underlying correlation between gender, climate change, nature, and society, the workshop provided the Earth Fellows with a wonderful learning opportunity.

We hope the workshop is the first in a series of many more to come!