Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate
Chapter 13: Gender and the environment
Mary Mellor The gender dimension of environmental issues rests on two linked claims. The first is that women and men stand in a different relationship to their environment, that the environment is a gendered issue. The second is that women and men respond differently to environmental issues, in particular that women are more responsive to ‘nature’. ‘Nature’ in this sense is more diffuse than the specific natural environment (the local ecosystem, the resource base of communities and so on); it reflects a more holistic and active view of ‘nature’ as a force. The term ‘environment’ will be used below to refer to the more limited meaning and ‘nature’ to refer to the wider meaning. The claim that there is a gender dimension to environmental issues is initially the less contentious. It rests on the idea that, inasmuch as men and women have different life experiences, they have different environmental experiences. This idea becomes more problematic when extended to the assertion that environmental problems have more of an impact on women than on men. This in turn becomes linked to the second claim, that women are more responsive to environmental issues. Joni Seager (1993), for example, has pointed out that women readily become active in campaigns about environmental issues and are overrepresented at the local level in formal environmental movements although underrepresented in the leadership of those movements. There is also evidence that sexism and gender inequality in green movements are reflected not only in the leadership profile but in green...
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