Environmental Social Work: Accounting for Gender in Climate Disasters


Alston, Margaret. 2013. “Environmental Social Work: Accounting for Gender in Climate Disasters.” Australian Social Work 66 (2): 218–33.

Author: Margaret Alston


The person-in-the-environment concept has largely been interpreted by social workers to indicate social networks and relationships, ignoring the physical environment and its complex impact on human health and wellbeing. This article examines the environmental domain, noting the critical role social workers can have in this field as a consequence of climate events and global warming. The article notes the significance of gender as a key factor in vulnerability to disasters and outlines the need for social workers to consider gender as a critical indicator in their work in this emerging area. Embodiment, connection to place, poverty, and cultural awareness are also significant, but often overlooked, factors in a social work response to environmental disasters. Ecological and ecofeminist theories give a direction for social work theory and practice in the postdisaster space. The article challenges social workers to reconsider the person-in- the-environment as a complex and critical emerging domain of social work theories and practice, a domain where gender awareness is fundamental.

Keywords: environmental social work, accounting for gender in climate disasters

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Feminisms, Gender, Health, Mental Health

Year: 2013

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