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Women and the Environment: Overview

Global Status of Women

Issue 9, May 2009


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Home Critical Areas of Concern Women and the Environment
Women and the Environment: Overview Print

“Women are the most vulnerable and the best poised to curb the effect of climate change.”

- Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), 2007


Women are seen in the context of global climate change in two iterations: as direct victims and as agents of change.

  • Working as they do in intimate interaction with the natural environment as farmers, water carriers, and firewood-gatherers in poor countries, they are the first to see changes in ecosystems, and these changes affect them profoundly.  
  • They are also often the most knowledgeable about these changes and how to mitigate them or compensate for them.  

With both an immense stake in natural resource flows and credibility in documenting changes, women are seen as well-suited for grassroots activism in this area.  Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is an excellent example of this intersection of environment and grassroots activism – see her profile below.  What is missing, many believe, is the representation of women in decision-making bodies at the national and international level, and in government regulatory and legislative bodies.


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Next:  Women and the Environment:  Women as Front Line Observers of Climate Change