Chapter 31: Environmental activism and gender
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Environmental activism merits an important place in a contemporary analysis of gender and economic life. In the first place, most environmental activists are, and apparently always have been, women – and this is at least partly related to gendered roles in the socio-economy. Because women’s roles tend to involve food provision and preparation, healthcare, childcare, and in many places, agriculture, and because many environmental hazards manifest themselves as reproductive hazards, women are usually the first to know about environmental degradation, and are often more affected than men, both physically and socio-economically. This motivates women’s activism and leadership on environmental issues. Moreover, because it leads to constructive change, women activists’ work and leadership has crucial, valuable social and economic implications. Further, in a theoretical sense, the economics of environmental degradation are closely related to the economics of gender. Both women’s work and environmental goods and services tend to be ‘externalized’ by neoclassical economics, taken for granted, unaccounted for, and/or unpaid. This interrelationship among women’s work and the environment offers important theoretical insights about how to build more sustainable socio-economies.

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