4 things to know about women and the environment

by Anna Claire Croghan, Alyssa Blachez and Kate Van Dermark. Image taken at the DAUK Women’s Caucus volunteer event, The Big Dig on April 21st at the Regent’s Park allotment gardens.

“The changing climate further increases disparities as its impacts hit vulnerable populations the hardest. Among those at the frontlines of climate impacts are the bodies, lives and livelihoods of women around the world, particularly rural and indigenous women.”

– Maria Alejandra Rodriguez Acha, Young Feminist Fellow at the Women’s Environment & Development Organization

1. Women are disproportionately affected by climate change.

80% of people displaced by climate change are women.  Women’s roles as primary caregivers make them more vulnerable when flooding and drought occur. Emergency evacuation shelters during extreme situations are often not accommodating to women. When evacuees from Hurricane Katrina were termporarily housed in the Superdome, there weren’t enough sanitary products for the women there.

2. Women are often left out of decision making on environmental issues.

As women are under-represented in governments, international agencies and businesses worldwide, their perspectives are not being heard when it comes to environmental decisions. Society must advocate for the full inclusion of women in decision making processes at all levels, including environmental planning, financing, gender budgeting, and policy-making.

Find out Five ways gender impacts the environment

3. Reproductive justice regularly overlaps with environmental justice.

Pollution, access to clean air and water, and other environmental factors all impact people who are, or hope to become, pregnant. False claims such as oral contraceptives being bad for the environment because they leak damaging hormones into the water (which they do not) can impact women’s ability to have control over their bodies.

Read Environmental Issues are Women’s Issues from the National Women’s Law Center

4. Women bear a disproportional burden of deteriorating water quality and availability.

Women are often responsible for maintaining the sanitation of water sources, as they play a key role in getting and managing fresh water. Water is a prerequisite for gardening, raising livestock and agriculture. Lack of access to water decreases women’s contributions to agricultural production and their business opportunities.

Read Sida’s whitepaper on Gender and the Environment

Want to know more?

Check out these organisations working on women and the environment.

  • WEDO, which envisions a just world that promotes and protects human rights, gender equality and the integrity of the environment
  • WEN, The Women’s Environmental Network which is working for environmental justice through feminist principles

Follow on Twitter:

All of our #wcactionchallenge actions in April are focused on the environment – see how many you can do and share!

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