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Why Women and the Environment

A publication on the connections between gender and the environment by WEN UK.


The briefing is by Women's Environmental Network UK.

This briefing looks at why women matter when it comes to the environment, and what needs to happen to bring about change. Why, when the environment impacts on all life, do environmental concerns need to be considered from a gender perspective? Connections between women and the environment are most obvious in less industrialised countries where women still grow much of the food, and are typically depicted as “hewers of wood, haulers of water”.

But gender differences exist in all societies and affect everyone’s experience of the environment and their impact on it. While much progress towards equality between the sexes has been made, relevant gender inequalities and differences do exist:

  • Social roles which expose women to environmental problems in particular ways;
  • Women are more likely to be living in poverty, which exposes them to more environmental problems;
  • biology makes women more physically vulnerable to toxic exposure at particular times of life; women are active at the grassroots and have many solutions to environmental problems but;
  • have less influence over the major environmental decisions because men still, by and large, hold the reins of power in politics and business.
Download the full briefing (612 KB, pdf)