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Managing environmental resources is critical to gender equality

The quality and availability of environmental resources, and the role women play in the utilisation and management of these resources, are important for gender equality.  This is largely a result of existing gender inequalities in resource allocation (including land), rights, opportunities and social status, and the burden of unpaid care and household work. Daily responsibilities such as water collection tend to be undertaken by women, alongside associated water use in tasks such as cooking, washing and cleaning; availability of water resources ultimately determines the time it consumes.

Women and girls are also disproportionately involved in undertaking activities associated with environmental resources that enable them to sustain their families, such as growing crops and vegetables and raising livestock, and the time allocated to these tasks can leave them little capacity for enrichment in areas such as education, paid employment or social engagement outside the family unit.  This utilisation of natural resources can also lead to opportunities for economic gain, however this is also impacted by the ability of women to protect their land, with food security becoming an increasing barrier.

Malnutrition and other diseases linked to lack of food and clean water supplies tend to be more prevalent amongst women and girls.  In many societies the males in a family unit take priority over women and girls when it comes to food distribution. Consequently, food shortages resulting from a lack of environmental resources – due to natural shortages or problems associated with food security – have a greater impact on women and girls who often already have a greater nutritional need due to pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Daily responsibilities such as water collection tend to be undertaken by women, alongside associated water use in tasks such as cooking, washing and cleaning; availability of water resources ultimately determines the time it consumes.

Environmental resources nutritionWomen and girls are also disproportionately involved in undertaking activities associated with environmental resources that enable them to sustain their families, such as growing crops and vegetables and raising livestock, and the time allocated to these tasks can leave them little capacity for enrichment in areas such as education, paid employment or social engagement outside of the family unit. This utilisation of natural resources can also lead to opportunities for economic gain, however this is also impacted by the ability of women to protect their land, with food security becoming an increasing barrier.

Women and girls also suffer disproportionately from malnutrition and other diseases linked to lack of food and clean water supplies.  In many societies the males in a family unit take priority over women and girls when it comes to food distribution. Consequently, food shortages resulting from a lack of environmental resources – due to natural shortages or problems associated with food security – have a greater impact on women and girls who often already have a greater nutritional need due to pregnancy or breast-feeding.

WISE Development supports international agencies, governments and NGOs to make progress towards transforming women’s lives in areas associated with environmental resources and nutrition.

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Climate changeDespite the many innovative ways that women are using their local knowledge to respond and adapt to the challenges of climate change, their voices have been largely excluded from national and international climate change negotiations and community and household-level decision-making. As a result, policies associated with climate change are to a great extent gender-blind, and will therefore be less effective in mitigating and alleviating its impacts and building overall resilience.

Social and gender audits are currently being used to identify where structures, processes and assumptions may result in gender-blindness in climate change policy, institutions and architecture, including financing. Knowledge gaps are gradually being filled through the gathering and use of gender-disaggregated qualitative and quantitative information to better understand the impacts of climate change on men and women.

WISE Development supports international agencies, governments and NGOs to make progress in empowering women to take an active role in decision-making on climate change policy, and to design programmes that draw on women’s experience and respond to their specific needs.
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This section is currently being updated.

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Gender Equality Experts in Environmental Resources

  • Charlotte Heath

    Charlotte Heath

    Particular experience in poverty and social exclusion, social accountability and voice, gender incl VAWG, migration, climate change, urban poverty and small enterprise development.

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  • Adebanke Akinrimisi

    Adebanke Akinrimisi

    Adebanke is a Lawyer with over 15 years of work experience in the field of development. She is an active participant in the women’s rights movement in Nigeria

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  • Ngukwase Surma

    Ngukwase Surma

    Ngukwase Surma is a gender and social inclusion expert with over twenty years’ experience working in Nigeria

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  • Emma Varley – Associate

    Emma Varley – Associate

    Emma Varley has 20 years of international development and applied research experience in South and South-East Asia, and East Africa. She holds a PhD in Sociocultural and Medical Anthropology, and has extensive expertise in action-orientated qualitative and ethnographic methodologies and ethics protocols.

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  • Mary Surridge – Associate

    Mary Surridge – Associate

    Mary is a principal international gender, social and institutional development consultant, with 26 years of international experience, working from practice to policy level with governments, bilateral and multi-lateral donors and (I)NGOs. She has been a gender and social inclusion specialist on projects and programmes in a range of sectors and technical areas including education, health, […]

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