Women and the environment
That the relationship between people and the environment is not gender-neutral became clear in the mid-1980s. Some organizations, focusing on the day-to-day lives of communities, argued that the position and concerns of women were invisible in environmental debates and programmers. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE based in New Delhi, India, in their The State of India’s Environment Report – or the Second Citizens Report of 1984-1985 argued that: Probably no other group is more affected by environmental destruction than poor village women. Every dawn brings with it a long march in search of fuel, fodderand water. It does not matter if the women are old, young or pregnant: crucial household needs have to be met day after weary day. As ecological conditions worsen, the long march becomes even longer and more tiresome. Caught between poverty and environmental destruction, poor rural women in India could well be reaching the limits of physical endurance. (CSE 1985) In that same year of 1985, the second UN Decade for Women Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya. The Environment Liaison Centre (presently the Environment Liaison Centre International or ELCI) organized a series of workshops on women, environment and development at the NGO Forum. These workshops were aimed at developing a better understanding of the relationship between women and the physical environment. More than 25 women leaders from all parts of the world – with an audience of women and men many times more – presented their local and regional case studies on women and the global environmental crisis, as well as on women and forests, energy, agriculture, and water management at local level. One of the main conclusions from the workshops was that women bear the highest costs of the environmental crisis because of their roles in providing water, food and energy at family and community levels. On the other hand, it was shown that women could potentially also make a large contribution to the solution of the crisis, precisely due to their role in the management of those primary resources. The increase in women’s power and the sustainability of development are ecologically tied. It is therefore imperative that women are enabled to participate and be involved at all levels of development planning throughout the industrialized and developing worlds, according to the ELC statement to the UN Women’s Conference in 1985.
Female Participation in the Labor Force
over the last century, the issue of women in the workplace has been a tumultuous one. Early in the 20th century, few women participated in the labor force. A woman's place was at home, taking care of the family and managing the domestic world. It was seen as unfit for women to be in certain professions, and most women did not work, other than going about their daily chores around the house. The Great Depression magnified this fact, as unemployment reached its highest levels in history but women, more than ever, stayed home to look after their husbands who now found themselves without work. World War II brought a complete reversal to this trend. Productivity boomed and the men left their homes, some to work, most to join the war effort. Women, in large masses for the first time, also hit the labor market. Dubbed "Rosie the Riveter", these women worked at manufacturing plants and at other technological industries that had previously seen only male employees. With the men off at war, these companies needed women to fill their shoes, and women streamed into the business. Since then, they have not looked back, as women employment in the labor force grew steadily in the four decades after World War II. It was not until very recently that female employment growth rates have leveled out. I hope to explain why this has happened, as well as examining different sectors of the economy and comparing women employment and men employment. Just after World War II the civilian labor force...
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