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BELCHERTOWN — The Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley will host a virtual information session on climate change and its impact locally and globally on Monday, March 14 at 6 p.m.

Ollie Perrault, a 15-year-old climate activist and youth climate leader of Easthampton, will be the guest speaker. She has been working with other local climate-action organizations to spark social change since she was 11.

Perrault is a founding member of a new, local, youth-led climate-action group, Youth Climate Action Now, that works to empower other young people to lead the next steps in the fight against the climate crisis.

The virtual meeting is free and open to the public. To receive a Zoom invitation, e-mail [email protected].

“Climate change is a major global crisis,” said Mary Knight, communications chair of the Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley. “While Zonta International is not an environmental or disaster-response organization, climate change disproportionately affects women and girls, and action is needed from a gender-equality perspective.”

Across the globe, women and girls are more heavily impacted by climate change than men because women, as caregivers and food providers, are more vulnerable when flooding and drought occur, Knight said. Even in stable regions, women can face systematic violence that escalates during periods of instability, and during extreme weather events, women are at greater risk of being injured, killed, displaced, and unemployed.

“Globally, women have less socioeconomic power than men, so it is harder for them to recover from disasters,” she added, noting that the United Nations highlights the need for gender-sensitive responses to climate change, but average female representation on negotiating bodies is well below 30%.

“Much of this disadvantage can be rectified through Zonta’s existing advocacy, health, education, and violence-eradication programs,” Knight said. “However, we need to ramp up our activities to ensure that girls are educated, child marriage is ended, gender equality gaps are closed, and women are supported to take on leadership positions in the workplace, community, and political spheres.”

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