Blog icon

9 March 2022 6 min read

The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is ‘Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’. To mark the day, we'd like to introduce you to three women embodying the theme. Through inclusive leadership in climate change adaptation, mitigation and response they are building a more sustainable future for everyone.

We spoke with Taryn Kong, Mibu Fischer and Brenda Lin about how gender equality and climate change adaptation are connected.

Dr Taryn Kong – research scientist

What does ‘equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ mean to you?

As a woman working in sustainability, I enjoy the opportunity to hear from a range of women scientists making an impact. We know climate change will significantly impact the most marginalised in society. This is particularly so in developing countries. By enhancing equality for women and girls we can improve the circumstances that put them at greatest risk from climate change.

Tell us about your research

My scientific background does not necessarily fit into a particular discipline. I play the double role of transdisciplinary researcher and knowledge broker. I work to bridge the gap between science and actions with stakeholders and Traditional Owners. Together we tackle complex issues from multiple perspectives, incorporate a range of ideas and translate them into a way forward.

I support sustainable and equitable natural resource development and management by local communities. I've been working with Indigenous communities to explore sustainable development options on Country. We've also worked on scaling up reef restoration and adaptation to climate change.

Why is it important to engage and involve women in the response to climate change?

We need to have a range of experience, ideas, knowledge and backgrounds involved in the conversation. If we do not include women, we are missing important voices and perspectives. Around the world, we see exemplary leadership by women and girls. They are offering innovative solutions and inspiration for taking bold actions against global challenges. We need to create an environment where women and girls have equal opportunity to education, career development and leadership roles. Then we can harness the power of their unique contribution to build a more sustainable future.

Mibu Fischer – marine ethnoecologist

What does ‘equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ mean to you?

Gender equality for me has always been an uncomfortable topic. I was always aware that when people were talking about women’s rights it didn’t necessarily mean the same rights for my mother, aunts or grandmother. Intersectionality follows them and follows many other First Nations women and women of colour.

I'm lucky I'm ‘a passing’ Aboriginal woman. I'm often thought to be white. Women in Australia first gained the right to vote in 1902. However, my fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women (and men) were unable to vote until 1962. My mum was born in 1956.

The role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play in their families and communities is so important. They hold these units together despite the challenges and disadvantages they face in all areas of their lives. Gender equality and equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women would mean the teachings and activities led by women would offer a more sustainable future that benefits us all.

Tell us about your research

My current research involves finding ways to value Indigenous science. We do this by empowering communities using Indigenous and integrated methodologies for various marine and coastal ecosystems. Depending on what the project is, it can include engagement with communities to try and understand current situations. Then we can address the barriers and challenges they're facing.

I have also been working in the area of Indigenous engagement. My aim is to provide learning opportunities for researchers and communities to work together with respect and understanding. Differences in worldview can make this challenging but it has happened. We just need more case studies and examples for us to follow.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and academics are striving for national frameworks to switch from ‘engaging’ with communities to true co-design and partnership. Increasing community capability to achieve self-determination is a major aspect of land and sea management.

Why is it important to engage and involve women in the climate change response?

We are impacted by external forces differently depending on our gender as well as our ethnicities, social situations and so forth. It is important to include women in the response to climate change as it has been identified that women will disproportionally be impacted by climate change.

In various communities, men may be involved in the working economy, whereas women are involved in the subsistence of their families and communities. Without them, basic family units and communities would not function efficiently. And they definitely wouldn’t thrive. In many areas that I work in, First Nations women are very strong, and hold knowledge and decision-making responsibilities. Many Indigenous communities are matrilineal so exclusion of women in these spaces is ignorant.

I’ve always been aware that various hierarchies exist in our societies. First Nations women and women of colour are often still not heard in many spaces. We are voices for Country, we are protectors of Country and we need Country as much as Country needs us.

Dr Brenda Lin – interdisciplinary ecologist

What does ‘equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ mean to you?

Sustainability and equality are inextricably linked. Until we can ensure everyone can access resources equally, it will be difficult to ensure people feel safe, have enough to eat and have access to healthcare. To achieve equality, we need to include diverse voices at the table. This ensures we provide multiple perspectives that lead to better policies and processes. Diverse voices provide more ideas and ways to look at challenges. It gives us all a chance to contribute to protecting our soil, water, air and communities into the future.

Women for a sustainable tomorrow. Brenda Lin working in the field.

Tell us about your research

My research looks at how green spaces, such as parks and yards, can benefit environmental and human health. We look at how to better design cities to provide health benefits. For example, having better bike paths to promote physical health or creating tree shaded parks to promote mental health. We know spending time in green spaces can reduce depression, anxiety and stress. In addition, green spaces are cooler for communities during heatwaves. If we consider how to integrate green spaces throughout a city, there can be multiple benefits for climate change adaptation.

Why is it important to engage and involve women in the response to climate change?

Climate change impacts everyone but not equally. Those with resources can more easily protect themselves. Through systematic discrimination, women still earn less than men for equal work. This puts them at an unequal footing when it comes to how they can adapt to climate change impacts. They may have to live in a flood zone, have less secure housing, no access to air conditioning or other heat protective measures. Women must become involved in the response to climate change to ensure the solutions protect women and future generations.

Meet more of our women who are truly out of this world.

Contact us

Find out how we can help you and your business. Get in touch using the form below and our experts will get in contact soon!

CSIRO will handle your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and our Privacy Policy.

First name must be filled in

Surname must be filled in

I am representing *

Please choose an option

Please provide a subject for the enquriy

0 / 100

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer

0 / 1900

You shouldn't be able to see this field. Please try again and leave the field blank.