Gender & Social Justice in Times of Crisis

We are learning about gender and social justice in unusual times — a crisis that deepens existing inequalities. Iris Marion Young’s “Five Faces of Oppression” emphasizes that multiple systems of oppression operate, generating inequalities based on race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, and age. Groups marginalized by these systems of oppression are feeling the impacts of COVID-19 more acutely. In the United States, for example, the Centre for Disease Control reports that infection, hospitalization, and death rates are higher for Black Americans than white Americans. In Canada, economists note that women are feeling the economic impacts of the pandemic more severely, arguing that women are in the midst of a “she-cession.” People living without homes cannot, by definition, follow orders to “stay home” to avoid contracting COVID-19. As we collectively look to virologists and epidemiologists for expertise, let’s also remember that social thinkers have a role to play in providing solutions that can avoid deepening inequality.

This course has been designed purposefully for online learning. You will work through course content weekly. Thus, you must set aside time to work through the content for this course. The teaching team for WGS 102 has built an online learning environment that we hope will help you to thrive.

  • Students taking this course for credit may have the opportunity to complete an optional Community Service Learning (CSL) component, gaining experience working towards social justice in their communities. See information about whether CSL is available for this class on eClass.
  • Make sure to contribute to the weekly discussions on eClass. Check eclass for further information.
  • You will have the opportunity to “test yourself” to assess your basic understanding of key concepts. If you are struggling with the “test yourself” questions, this means you need to do a closer reading of lessons and assigned resources and try again. The “test yourself” questions are not for marks.
  • The teaching team is available for individual learning support via office hours. Check eclass to learn more about your teachers and their office hours.

After you have completed the lessons and assigned resources for this module, log on to eClass to complete your first discussion board post.

Test Yourself!


“Clearing the plains – Presented by James Daschuk.” 2018. McKillop United, March 8, 2018. Youtube, 

“For those experiencing homelessness, lives already hanging by a thread ‘snapped’ by COVID-19, say advocate.” 2020. CBC, May 15, 2023. 

“I regret it: Hayden King on writing Ryerson University’s territorial acknowledgement”. 2019. CBC, May 15, 2019. 

“Janine Brodie: Social literacy and social justice in times of crisis.” 2012. Federation HSS, October 26, 2012. Youtube,

Raphael, Daisy. 2020. “Lecture: Social Justice”. Women and Gender Studies 102: Gender &Social Justice. University of Alberta.

“Risk for COVID-19 Infection, Hospitalization, and Death by Race/Ethnicity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 15, 2023.  

Venne, Sharon. 2002. “Understanding Treaty 6: An Indigenous Perspective.” In Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada, edited by M. Asch, 173-207. Vancouver: UBC Press. 

Yalnizyan, Armine. 2020. “Opinion: The ‘she-cession’ is real and a problem for everyone.” FINANCIAL POST. 

Young, Iris Marion. 1990. “Five Faces of Oppression.” In Justice and the Politics of Difference, REV-Revised., 39–65. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Discussion Questions – see eclass

In our discussion forums for Module One, we will focus on paraphrasing and citing as important academic skills. Paraphrase Young’s reading, explaining each of the five faces of oppression. Also, apply what you’ve learned by identifying your own examples of these forms of oppression. Log into eClass to find instructions for this week’s discussion.

Big Idea Challenge

Remember! Check out the details of the “Big Idea Challenge” assignment on eclass. These challenges encourage you to apply the big ideas and theories you are learning in this course to the world outside of our virtual classroom. You will find a list of challenges and the assignment guidelines here. You will also find the challenges at the end of each module when you see this star logo. See details of this assignment on eclass.



Learn and share one of the following Cree words that can help inform a social justice approach to gender studies. For example, you might learn the Cree word for ‘Edmonton’ and tell us why learning this word helps inform a social justice approach to gender studies. Share the pronunciation of these words as best you can. Remember to relate your response to the big idea for Module One, which is “social justice”. Use course materials, including lessons, lectures, and assigned resources to do this. Make sure to reference all materials you draw on using the author-date method (Chicago-Style reference system).

Here is the list of words from which you can choose:

  • amiskwaciy-wâskahikan
  • wahkohtowin
  • miyowicetowin
  • nehiyaw-iskwew

Here are some links with more resources to help you:


Check out this map at Find your home on the map do some research online to learn a bit about the territory’s history. What’s the traditional Indigenous name for the place you call home? Learn how to pronounce it. Go for a walk. Take photographs or a video of things you notice about your surroundings. For example, what do you notice about the street names, the name of your neighbourhood, your neighbours, the landscape, river, or trees? Are there monuments nearby? Schools? Community centres? Do you think about your location differently after learning a bit about the territory you’re from? How might your new understanding inform your approach to studying gender and social justice? Share your reflections with your classmates. You can upload a video, a photo essay, or an audio recording — you can be creative! Remember to review the assignment requirements carefully before you get started.

Remember to relate your response to the big idea for Module One, which is “social justice.” Use course materials, including lessons, lectures, and assigned resources, to do this. Make sure to reference all materials you draw on using the author-date method.

GET INSPIRED! Check out Ayla’s reflection on what it means to think about social justice on Treaty 6 territory through her “treaty walk.”

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