Symposium to highlight the climate’s impact on women’s health

GVL / Luke Holmes - Danielle Lake came to speak in the Womens Center inside of Kirkhof Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

GVL / Luke Holmes – Danielle Lake came to speak in the Women’s Center inside of Kirkhof Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

Sanda Vazgec

The relationship between gender and environment may not be obvious to most, but the two have an effect on each other, and the Women’s Center at Grand Valley State University wants to start discussion about it.

The Women’s Center is teaming up with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) to highlight the intersection between gender issues and the environment for their annual Women and Environment Symposium.

Yumiko Jakobcic, GVSU Campus Sustainability Coordinator, said the symposium is an opportunity for students to learn about the issues at hand and network with community activists.

“During the past five years, WMEAC and GVSU have been able to bring together hundreds of students and community members to discuss, debate and learn about a variety of environmental issues that impact people’s lives,” Jakobcic said. “This has led to both behavior change and action in the community.”

The event is designed to bring significant issues into an academic setting for discussion and examination. This years’ event will be held on Feb. 24 from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the Loosemore Auditorium on GVSU’s Pew Campus.

This year, the event will focus on women in leadership roles and the effect that environment has on women. The event will include presentations on diversity, the environmental impacts on women’s health and the efforts of the environmental-friendly movement in Michigan.

There will be two panels throughout the day, showcasing different demographics and their connection with the environment.

The first panel will cover the topic of diverse and inclusive leadership in the environmental movement. The discussion will include environmental experts, including a Flint resident affected by the high levels of lead in the city’s water.

The second panel will cover climate leadership in communities of faith. The panel will include representatives of various religious communities and take a look at each community’s role in the environment.

In addition to the panels, there will be a keynote presentation by speaker Jacqueline Patterson. Patterson serves as the Environmental and Climate Justice Director for the NAACP and is heavily involved with international climate action.

Prior to the event, on Thursday, Patterson will join the GVSU Women’s Center for a breakfast focused on environmental and social justice. The breakfast will be held in the Kirkhof Center Room 2270 and is open for all students to attend at no cost.

The symposium serves as a large-scale meeting between leaders in the academic, business and activism communities focused on gender and the environment.

The Women’s Center aims to provide students with hands-on learning opportunities about gender justice and thinking beyond themselves and the classroom.

“I think that students can learn that we are a center that is inclusive and advocating for gender justice,” said Ashley Schulte, grant coordinator for the Women’s Center. “We like to have fun while working to educate students and the GVSU community.”

The symposium is an opportunity for students to be involved with the mission of the Women’s Center while learning further about its connection with environmental issues.

Student tickets for the symposium are $25 and can be purchased on the WMEAC website at

For more information on the event or gender justice contact the GVSU Women’s Center at (616) 331-2748.