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The GRRIPP STEM Challenge

In this post, Dr. Zahra Khan shares her experiences of coordinating and delivering GRRIPPs first STEM Summer Workshop for students interested in gender equality and equity in climate change.


On the 19th – 23rd, June GRRIPP teamed up with Womenvai to deliver a special multi-day workshop designed to give the students, skills and knowledge to become actors of change and to formulate an action plan tackling an issue related to climate change through a gender lens. On the first day, after a quiz to warm the students up on gender statistics, there was a series of talks ranging in subjects from stakeholders in the COP negotiation process to sustainable mobility and gender bias in climate change research. Following the informative and interesting presentations, the students were then tasked with coming up with a topic they wanted to focus on and to design an action plan around it following a step-by-step framework given to them by the facilitators. After choosing a project, the teams, in discussion with the facilitators, started coming up with ideas that could potentially address their problem. Throughtout following days, the students took the lead in formulating a concrete plan, conducting research and planning their presentation, with the facilitators on hand to provide insight and guidance. At the end of the week, the students presented their solutions to the facilitators, who were very impressed by the quality of their work.



Project 1: THE UNSUSTAINABLE IMPACTS OF YOUR "SUSTAINABLE" CARS.

This project aimed to raise awareness about the unsustainable and negative impact of Lithium mining.


The project looked at the process of Lithium extraction and how it caused environmental degradation and leads to an increase in the water scarcity in these areas. A brief gender analysis showed that genders were impacted differently according to inequalities with resource access and pre-existing cultural and gender norms. The main part of the project called for compulsory university modules for all courses, particularly for natural sciences, where students would learn about sustainability and technology and how then can minimise their impact. Another complimentary part of the project included working with the local community, for example in Chile, to increase their knowledge and how they can adapt to the negative impacts of such processes.


Project 2: GenDRR, a mobile application intending to overcome gender gaps in Disaster Risk Reduction policy.


Essentially, this idea has been extrapolated from a case study of Pakistan. However, this GenDRR application would be applicable to any country which has been facing challenging times due to poor planning in the context of disaster risk response. This GenDRR application emphasised the gender practical and strategic needs from the intersectional perspective. However, women’s needs have been accentuated through additional features in the application. Additionally, this application will not only help to mobilize voices of grassroot level communities, but it will be a cost-effective tool for policymakers as well in conducting monitoring and evaluation. \


Project 3: This project is related to a women’s health issue, anaemia due to the lack of iron with the aim of reducing the risk of anaemia in women, especially vegetarians and vegans by improving awareness of and access to nutritional information.


This would be done by introducing a new easy-reading vegetarian/vegan label. This would include the levels of iron in the food as a percentage of the daily reference amount for men and women separately. By designing this label, women, especially vegetarians and vegans will be educated with basic nutrition knowledge. And will gain experience in designing labels. Additionally, his vegetarian/vegan label will promote plant-based products and vegetarian diets which reduce the consumption of meat and benefit both environment and human health.


Photo: Challenge Day 5. All students presented and were awarded certificates. Credit: Dr. Zahra Khan


The Final Day


After much deliberation, the judges decided to award Project 1 the winners. They were seriously impressed by their impactful ideas and solid action plan, indicated good knowledge of their subject area, and answered questions with confidence. The team, comprising of two first year students from different disciplines, highlighted the importance of teamwork and collaboration in order to come up with unique ideas that could become actionable at a local level, through to the national and international. This shows how STEM students can come together to tackle gender issues. All the projects impressed the facilitators so much so that all the students have been invited by Womenvai to attend COP 28 in Dubai, later this year.


What a great end to the week, and our biggest thanks to Womenvai and all those who participated. We are excited to see the potential of rolling similar challenges in different universities in the future.


Photo: Final Day - Workshop Participants and Womensvai. Credit: Dr. Zahra Khan



Author Bio: Dr Zahra Khan is the Outreach and Research Assistant at GRRIPP. She holds a PhD in Chemistry and works closely with Prof. Peter Sammonds (UCL) to influence policy regarding gender responsive resilience. Zahra coordinates events to widen GRRIPP participation across all disciplines, with the aim to bridge the gap between STEM subjects and social sciences.


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