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Earth Day conversation examines gender equality and climate change

5 people are shown talking on a zoom call
Earth Day conversation examines gender equality and climate change

Following the 66th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW), the Bahá’í Community of Canada’s Office of Public Affairs hosted a virtual discussion about themes and insights arising from the commission on Earth Day 2022.

Laura Friedmann, Media Officer for the Office of Public Affairs, opened the conversation by observing that this year's UN CSW focused on climate change, the environment, risk reduction, and the ways in which gender equality is at the centre of the search for solutions.

“A number of Canadians participated in this global dialogue about how the full and effective participation of women in decision making in public life can contribute to processes of sustainable development,” she observed. “A process of social transformation is needed for humanity to adequately respond to climate change.”

Ms. Friedmann was joined by three speakers: Elodie Jacquet, Manager of Knowledge and Practice at the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue; Humberto Carolo, Executive Director of White Ribbon Canada and co-chair of the Global MenEngage Alliance; and Andrea Salguero, Deputy Director of Government Relations of the Office of Public Affairs. Ms. Salguero and Ms. Friedmann attended the UN CSW as part of the Bahá’í International Community’s delegation.

The panel explored the correlation between gender equality and humanity’s relationship with the natural environment. The three panelists commented on the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on the lives of women and girls. Elodie Jacquet said, “ Women are more likely to live in poverty than men; to have [less] access to basic human rights, like, the ability to move freely; to acquire land; and they face systemic violence that escalates during periods of instability. These factors and many more mean that as climate change intensifies, women will struggle the most.”

The panel further explored how women’s full, equal, and active participation in society is essential to address to the challenges of climate change. Ms. Jacquet added, “Gender inequality hampers women's capacity and potential to be actors of climate action….This is why we need to rethink dramatically how women access decision making circles and participate in climate discussions.”

Mr. Carolo connected environmental degradation to the conceptions of masculinity that promote the exercise of power over others. He urged the audience to “further explore and unpack these root causes of the climate crisis.” Mr. Carolo concluded his remarks by highlighting the role of faith institutions in the practice of justice and inclusivity.

In this connection, Ms. Salguero addressed contributions to the UN CSW that draw upon religious and spiritual insights. She observed that the theme of “fundamental interconnectedness,” emerged throughout the commission. “Our true spiritual reality is that of an undeniably interlinked, interconnected, Earth we are called to care for as stewards. And from this view, any approach or solution to address climate change therefore must recognize this profound interconnectedness,” she noted.

She also recognized the patterns of exploitation and violence that Mr. Carolo highlighted in his presentation, and expressed hope that “human beings’ noblest sentiments of love, compassion, care and humility, can in fact be nurtured to replace the signs of greed and domination, and prejudice that lead to these systems founded on exploitation.”

Originally published on the Canadian Baha'i News Service

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