As we celebrate International Women’s day, it is increasingly evident that women’s involvement and leadership in environmental solutions has often been overlooked and that more must be done to empower women to help deliver successful and long-lasting results for the environment.
As decision-making processes always start at home, most of the decisions regarding the management of the home and habits of the children are taken by women. This further validates the fact that the state of the environment is often shaped by gender.
It is also important to note that detrimental effects of degraded environment and the ability to cope with or compensate for environmental change are gendered. Survival of women is closely linked to the health of the ecosystem as they are the most sensitive to changes in the environment. Women are the first line of defense for the home as they have closest contact with the environment.
Although a gender-segregated workforce results in different exposures to environmental risks for women and men, biases in education and training systems mean that women are less equipped to understand, cope with, and anticipate environmental change.
Women and Resource Conservation
Water is present at many levels in the life of women. They collect and manage its use in the household for the purposes of cooking, washing, cleaning, and also disposal of the waste-water; this is to ensure household hygiene.
If water is misused or over-used in domestic chores, it will ultimately contribute to water scarcity while the polluted water containing chemicals can negatively affect household.
The same is true with land, women farmers are key players in the soil conservation, fertility and enrichment.
Women and Environmental Risk
As they become more active in the labour force, they are faced with serious health risks and unsustainable patterns of production in urban and working environments of developing countries.
To a large extent, occupational Environmental risk to women is still unrecognized. Increased use of chemicals in different factories or manufacturers like cosmetics and chemical industries create great health problems.
This can affect future generations through an increase in birth defects and complications in pregnancy. Evidence is raised from different areas where industrial emissions have had more effect on women.
Water pollution has led to an increase in birth defects and complications in pregnancy. Pesticide exposures in women are linked to numerous hospital stillbirths.
Air pollution has been linked to great percentage of all illnesses affecting women and children. One in three women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer sometime during their lives.
Subsequently, policy analysts have come to see women as especially vulnerable and their responsibilities, as day-to-day environmental managers.
These make them victims to the natural environment’s degradation.
This risk posed on women due to unsustainable patterns of development calls on policy makers and analysts to appreciate women’s role in the management of natural resources, therefore, design policies and programmes that include a full participation of women for environmental conservation.
We need to create opportunities for women to develop and support sustainable energy, food and urban solutions. Women also need to be informed and educated about alternative methods of cooking, farming, family planning (contraceptives) and waste disposal.
If women are well represented at higher levels of decision making, grassroots participation will be more effective. Support for women’s collective actions in addressing resource management problems is another instance of a general strategy to strengthen women’s bargaining power.
There is need to integrate gender concerns into work of environmental conservation, the exclusion of women from environmental projects through belief in the gender neutrality of projects would be a recipe for project failure.
In line with this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, we also need to consider the transformative role that women play in steering our planet towards a sustainable future.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY