‘There will be no climate justice without gender justice’.Women for Climate Justice

What is ‘Environmental Justice’?

The term ‘Environmental Justice’ refers to the just distribution of environmental risk and benefits amongst the population and the right of all to meaningful participation in environmental decision-making*. Its focus is mainly on race and socioeconomic class, yet we believe that a gendered analysis of environmental issues is central to achieving justice.

From a global perspective, women, as the main crop-growers, primary carers of children, and comprising 70% of the world’s poor, are likely to be particularly susceptible to climate change and natural disasters. There is growing evidence that violence against women increases after natural disasters. And yet a gendered perspective is largely absent from environmental research, policy, planning and implementation. In developed and developing countries alike, the perspective that women can bring to environmental decision-making is under-recognised and under-utilised.

The GAD Pod views the Environmental Justice model as a useful framework for ensuring that women and girls are not disproportionately affected by the effects of devastating environmental problems such as climate change. This demands organisations and governments to specifically consider women’s health and wellbeing when planning and responding to climate change, and to work to increase women’s knowledge of and capacity to respond to the impacts of both slow-onset and sudden natural disasters.

*Definition adapted from the US Environmental Protection Agency definition (http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/)

Launch of Environmental Justice Website – Melbourne, March 2012

Helen Riseborough, WHIN’s Chief Executive Officer, and Susie Reid, Executive Officer, Women’s Health Goulburn North East launch the Environmental Justice Website at the Identifying the Hidden Disaster conference.

Research Report

Beating the Flames: Women escaping and surviving Black Saturday

Parkinson, D., & Zara, C. (Eds.). (2011)

On Black Saturday many women were left alone, often with children, to escape or fight the sudden fires. Some made the decision to leave early and returned to a community changed physically and emotionally forever.

The accounts of how women responded and were affected during and after the Black Saturday fires cast light on a complex and heartbreaking time. Lives changed and the aftermath continues to be felt in families and communities devastated by fire.

Read the stories of 21 women in Beating the Flames.

Watch the launch of the E-book, Beating the Flames, including an account of the Black Saturday fires by Sharon Bourke, Marysville resident.


The 14th Annual Emergency Management Conference: New Realities

Melbourne, 2 July 2014  

The ‘Diversity in Emergency Services: Gender Stream’ on Day 2 of New Realities was presented by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade with the support of Women’s Health Goulburn North East and Women’s Health In the North.


Watch the conference presentations:

‘Don’t talk to me about gender, we have a disaster on our hands!’* The Gender and Disaster Taskforce – its background and future
Watch a presentation by panel members discussing the establishment of the Gender and Disaster Taskforce.

Professor Bob Pease, Professor of Critical Social Work, Deakin University;
Watch Professor Pease’s Interrogating Privilege presentation.

Dr Christine Eriksen, Research Fellow at Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research, University of Wollongong.
Watch Dr Eriksen’s Landscapes of Uncertainty presentation.


Women and Disaster Snapshot 1: Women and Disaster
Relationship violence is a taboo subject. It’s always been hard for women to report, but this is taken to a new level after a disaster.

Women and Disaster Snapshot 2: The relevance of gender in disaster risk
The relevance of gender in disaster risk. There are different vulnerabilities in disaster depending on gender.

Women and Disaster Snapshot 3: The Hidden Disaster – Family Violence following Natural Disasters
Women’s experiences of the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires were researched.  These are the findings regarding family violence – in a nutshell.

Women and Disaster Snapshot 4: Checklists to keep Women and Children safe after Natural Disasters
Checklists to keep women and children safe for: Disaster prevention, response &  recovery services

Women and Disaster Snapshot 5: Men on Black Saturday
What can we do?


Women and Disaster Literature Review

It appears that the belief in collective imagination that women and children come first in a disaster is a myth… Read the international literature review Gender and Disaster.

For a summary, see Women and Disaster article in the Australian Women’s Health Network, February 2011 newsletter.

Women and Environmental Justice: a literature review

This wide-ranging literature review explores the effects that climate change and other environmental issues are having on women and girls. It addresses a number of topics that relate to women and environmental justice, including economic participation; vulnerability to natural disasters and heatwaves; mental health; rural women; the elderly, children and disabled; and leadership. Our research has shown that women are unduly affected by environmental problems for three main reasons: because they are generally poorer than men, because of the social construction of womanhood and because of their longer life spans. The interaction of these factors with forms of discrimination such as sexism, racism and ageism result in social conditions that put women at risk of environmental injustice.

Read the literature review
Women and Environmental Justice: the presentation

See an outline presentation of the literature review.

WHIN’s submission to the Victorian Green Paper 2009
Gender and disaster recovery: strategic issues and action in Australia

Tricia Hazeleger examines gendered disaster recovery issues relevant to Australian policy and planning and provides a basis for strategic directions to enhance disaster recovery.


Useful Links & Information

Join the International Gender and Disaster Network

The Gender and Disaster Network is an educational project initiated by women and men interested in gender relations in disaster contexts. The GDN utilises the Internet and other forms of new media in support of a global network of researchers and practitioners while recognising that communications technology is not fully accessible and that we must try to work in many languages and contexts. It serves as an international forum for discussion, networking, and information exchange, and has a vibrant discussion list,  hosted by the UN ISDR Prevention Web.

The Effect of Climate Change on Women

We’re concerned about environmental justice! What do you know about women and climate change?

Test your knowledge:

Take this quick quiz