Connected in health: Gender equality in the context of climate change

March 8, 2022

Today, on International Women’s Day, the United Nations (UN) is drawing attention to the contribution of women and girls who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response.

Drawing on the UN #IWD2022 theme, ‘Changing Climates, Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’, the VHA is hosting an expert panel of respected women on 22 March to discuss the intersection of climate change and gender equality within the health context.

Our online panel discussion will feature:

  • Dr Sue Matthews, VHA Board Chair and CEO of the Royal Women’s Hospital
  • Dr Debra Parkinson, Manager, Gender and Disaster Australia
  • Fiona Armstrong, Founder and Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance
  • Dr Angie Bone, Deputy Chief Health Officer (Environment), Victorian Department of Health.

Find out more and register for the VHA’s Equality and health in a changing climate event.


Equality, health and the climate connection

As climate change and gender inequality represent two of the biggest threats to global health in the 21st century, it is critical we apply a gender equality lens to the health system’s preparation and response to climate change.

The latest UN Frontiers Report warns that extreme events caused by anthropogenic climate change are having destructive consequences on homes and property, human health, and the environment – impacts that are disproportionately felt by vulnerable groups.

In Australia, extreme events exacerbated by emissions – heatwaves, droughts, floods, storms and fires – cause death, injury and financial and emotional stress. The Frontiers Report recognises that the most vulnerable members of society – women, children, elderly, disabled and the poor – suffer the worst ongoing damage from the impacts of such disasters.

The report offers mitigation and adaptation strategies to address these emerging threats, including the involvement of vulnerable groups in all stages of preparedness and response.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report echoes the UN findings.

The report Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability calls for urgent action to adapt to the changes caused by climate change, as well as cuts to greenhouse gas emissions (climate change mitigation).

The report also says the time for incremental adaptations has passed, and we now need ‘transformational’ changes. However, the authors urge policy makers to consider the unintended consequences of climate adaptation, saying ‘This can be avoided by involving everyone in planning, attention to equity and justice, and drawing on Indigenous and local knowledge.’