Women have key role in sustainable development
Summary of story from China Daily, October 18, 2011
Women are playing an increasingly important role globally in protecting the environment.
Involving women in finding sustainable solutions for their communities is particularly important as they are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation.
Given their roles in sustaining the home, providing financial support and bearing offspring, women have been most at risk from environmental health problems and hazards.
Pregnant women in particular are vulnerable to toxic substances that can result in loss of maternal and infant life.
These threats are worse for women living rurally, or on the margins of urban areas.
Given these risks, women are ideal candidates to identify environmental problems and implement sustainable development in their communities.
A United Nations Environment Program survey showed that women are more likely to choose a healthy living environment over men, even if it means a lower standard of living.
Therefore, women are perfectly situated to become educators and motivators for change on healthy development and sustainable living.
Many women are already at the forefront of the environmental movement.
Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai was founder of the Green Belt movement in Kenya (see WVoN story). Her work has resulted in more than 30 million trees being planted on public and private land, and has empowered rural women in environmental preservation techniques.
Another example is Olga Speranskaya, whose work has helped to identify and eliminate toxic chemicals from Russia’s environment.
Women are also participating more in think tanks and environmental training activities, allowing them to lobby policy makers on the link between women, the use of natural resources and sustainable development.
There is increasing belief that environmental policies will succeed, in the long run, only if men and women are equally involved.
Diane Reed, president of the Cree Society for Communications says, “Now the women are rising up. And when the women rise up from a nation, they are the strongest voice that can be heard and it’s a voice that cannot be silenced.”