ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH

The Gender dimension in environment and development policy: the Southeast Asian experience

AUTHOR(S): Wee, V.
IMPRINT: Singapore: ENGENDER, Centre for Environment, Gender and Development, 1995. 36 p.
MATERIAL TYPE: Discussion Paper
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Economics, Environment

SUMMARY:
Using case studies drawn from seven different Asian countries, the author links national, regional, and international economic policies with environment issues and shows how these fuel the feminization of poverty. The case studies address: loss of land and destruction of the natural resource base such as forests; the negative impact of the introduction of new technology; women as a source of cheap labour; health disparities among the rich and poor; the environmental impact of industrialization; and the shift from a subsistence based to a cash based economy. An analysis of specific economic policies and environmental issues follows each case study. A bibliography is included.

COMMENTS:
Paper presented at the Northeast Asia-Southeast Asia Consultation on Development and Environment, Bangkok, October 20-22, 1995. This paper is drawn from the book by Wee and Heyzer (1995) Gender Poverty and Sustainable Development, published for the Fourth World Conference on Women.

This is a complex, multi-faceted paper which explodes the myth that long-term sustainable, equitable development can result from the current push to industrialization, globalization and "free trade" in Asia. Wee explains in detail how market oriented economic development is further marginalizing the poor and endangering the lives of future generations by destroying the resource base that sustains us. The case studies, selected from various publications, are fairly short and could be used in gender training workshops.

Reviewed By: Nancy Peters, Northeast Thailand Foundation, Surin


Groundwork: African Women as environmental managers

AUTHOR(S): Khasiani, Shanyisa A., editor
IMPRINT: Nairobi: ACTS Press, 1992. 131 p.
MATERIAL TYPE: Book
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Agriculture, Community Development, Environment, Forestry, Law & Legislation, Water & Sanitation

SUMMARY:
This collection of nine articles is intended to recognize and promote the central role women in Kenya play in environmental conservation. Women's traditional farming and sustainable land use practices are documented. These practices are based upon an extensive knowledge of the local environment and an understanding of human interaction with it. Colonial and modern exploitation of resources have upset this balance. Thus, the authors call upon policy makers and legislators to integrate women's environmental knowledge in land use management.

Among the topics included here are a description of women's traditional ecological knowledge, how exploitation has disrupted the environment and how these women have had to adapt to ensure food security. Assessments of current projects are also presented, dealing with soil and water conservation, domestic energy, etc. Recurring problems resulting from lack of grassroots consultation are described. The "Mwethya" self-help groups are presented as an effective model for sharing workloads among community members. The role of women storytellers is an important yet overlooked tool for social change and for passing along environmental knowledge.

COMMENTS:
Thorough analysis of a range of issues pertaining to rural women's interaction with the environment . Emphasizes the importance of integrating this knowledge in formal policy making.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady


Is there need for policy on biomass management?

AUTHOR(S): Sebunya, Kaddu Kiwe
JOURNAL: Arise, Issue No 8, Oct-Dec, 1992, 18-19, 22-23
MATERIAL TYPE: Journal Article
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Environment, Forestry, Health

SUMMARY:
Sebunya argues that the impending woodfuel crisis in Africa will seriously impede current efforts in sustainable rural development. Women are primarily affected by this shortage, yet they are often voiceless in the debate.

There is an urgent need to recognize the necessity of biomass cover to sustain environmental and human health, such as water supply and dietary needs. Citing a case study from Uganda, the author calls for a greater understanding of wood collection activities. External factors are placing increased pressure on wood supplies, including the cost of electricity and other fuels, and the high cost of cement blocks that increase demand for baked clay bricks. Traditional forest management practices are being undermined by roving "firewood hunters."

Reforestation is only one factor in a solution to this problem. Scientific research must include local-level knowledge so that the whole environmental context is understood, and that both forest and agricultural concerns are considered.

COMMENTS:
Concise critique of the woodfuel crisis. However, gender concerns are not dealt with beyond a recognition of the situation for women stated above.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady


Monocultures of the mind: perspectives on biodiversity and biotechnology

AUTHOR(S): Shiva, Vandana
IMPRINT: Penang, Malaysia: Third World Network; London: Zed, 1993. 184 p.
MATERIAL TYPE: Book
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Agriculture, Economics, Environment

SUMMARY:
Shiva presents a thorough critique of monoculture practices in agriculture and forestry. Effects of monoculture include erosion, pollution, and loss of indigenous plant species upon which local populations depend for nutrition.

Locally based programs to conserve biodiversity are examined. The Biodiversity Convention adopted at the Rio Summit in 1992 is examined from a Third World perspective, exposing ways in which this convention will favour US interests at the expense of those who are supposed to be assisted. High tech industries from the North are profiting from many current policies, such as the gene banks which now force Third World farmers to pay for seeds that once were theirs traditionally. Furthermore, monoculture strategies are displacing ecologically sound traditional practices and species, thereby impoverishing and disrupting the populations affected.

COMMENTS:
Although this book does not focus primarily on issues specific to women, Shiva works from a critical feminist perspective throughout her analysis.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady


Priority issues for women, health and development in Thailand: a resource book for strategic planning and policy-making

AUTHOR(S): Meesook, A., Attig, G.A., and Phijaisanit, P.
IMPRINT: Bangkok: National Committee on Women, Health and the Environment, 1995. 75 p.
MATERIAL TYPE: Book, Case Study
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Health, Labour

SUMMARY:
A series of papers prepared for the World Health Organization, this report describes the health of women in Thailand including agricultural labourers, industrial labourers, child labourers, professional women and commercial sex workers. Each section contains statistics and analysis about the social, cultural, economic, and political factors which affect women's helath and personal and community well-being. A bibliography is included for each paper.

COMMENTS:
Health is a key indicator of the quality of life and an indicator which is often overlooked in the identification, design and implementation of development projects. By drawing attention to the condition of specific groups of Thai women, gender and development issues such as access to income, information, training and technology or women's subordinate status in Thai society are clearly illustrated. The chapters on women agricultural labourers and women industrial workers are a rich source of examples about gender inequalities. Social and cultural factors which affect women's position in Thai society are outlined in the paper about the health issues of professional women. The section on commercial sex workers would have benefitted from a more critical analysis of the social, economic and environmental factors pushing women into the industry.

Reviewed By: Nancy Peters, Northeast Thailand Foundation, Surin


Proceedings of the First Asian Indigenous Women's Conference -- Sharing commonalities and diversities: forging unity towards indigenous women's empowerment.

AUTHOR(S): Santos, Joy Angelica Pecua, editor
IMPRINT: Manila: Cordillera Women's Education and Resource Center and INNABUYOG, 1993. 245 p.
MATERIAL TYPE: Conference Proceedings, Case Study
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Agriculture, Community Development, Economics, Environment, Forestry, Health, Human Rights, Law & Legislation

SUMMARY:
Included in these conference proceedings are many short workshop reports encompassing a wide range of concerns of indigenous women throughout Southeast Asia. The issue of development projects threatening their agricultural resources is a recurring topic in these reports. Successful examples of women organizing are presented. Topics covered include: environmental degradation from mining, logging, dams, and other such projects; traditional indigenous practices of sustainable land management; human rights violations and violence at both the domestic and state level; health policies; impact of global economics; land rights; and political representation.

COMMENTS:
This report covers a wide range of issues of vital importance to women in this region; however, because of this wide scope not all the items focus on rural issues in depth. Many case studies are cited and recommendations for action are presented throughout.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady


Sustainable development and economic policy in Kenya

AUTHOR(S): Juma, Calestous
BOOK TITLE: Gaining Ground: institutional innovations in land-use management in Kenya (edited by Amos Kiriro and Calestous Juma)
IMPRINT: Nairobi: ACTS Press, 1991. p. 51-86.
MATERIAL TYPE: Chapter in Book.
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Agriculture, Environment

SUMMARY:
There is increasing recognition of the need for the integration of sustainability in development policies and programs. However, due to structural adjustment programs and government cutbacks, the funding is often lacking to implement new programs. Juma calls for a reevaluation of existing traditional knowledge. Women can play a central role in sustainable agricultural practices because of their extensive knowledge in this area. However, discriminatory practices have kept their work and knowledge marginalized.

There needs to be an integration of gender relations, land rights, plant tenure, and other agricultural practices to ensure food security and to avoid environmental destruction from pollution and other unsustainable activities.

COMMENTS:
Fairly detailed overview of key issues in Kenya, and recognition of the vital role women can play. Other articles in this book also deal with issues of sustainable rural development, but a gender analysis is lacking. Topics include watershed protection, wildlife management, social forestry and biodiversity.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady


Water resources management: a macro-level analysis from a gender perspective

AUTHOR(S): Green, Cathy, and Baden, Sally
IMPRINT: Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, 1994. 19 p. Bridge Report 21.
MATERIAL TYPE: Report--Policy Briefing
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Environment, Water and Sanitation

SUMMARY:
This report draws on the wider body of research concerning gender and the environment to suggest some ways in which the conceptual framework adopted by the World Bank is deficient in terms of gender analysis. The approach embodied by the new water resources management (WRM) policy is summarized, and then some of the key themes and policy directions are looked at critically from a gender perspective. These include: pricing of water resources; poverty alleviation; decentralization; participation; environmental protection measures; conservation technologies; and upgrading of skills.

This chapter summarizes the environmental and social conditions women must contend with in Nepal. Recommendations are presented for both government and NGO programmes to recognize the crucial role women play in the changes that are needed. Both short-term and long-term strategies are presented to integrate environmental education in existing and future community development projects.

Reviewed By: Rachel Masika, BRIDGE Information Officer, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex


Women and Environment Education

BOOK TITLE: Draft National Environment Education Guidelines
IMPRINT: Kathmandu: National Conservation Strategy Implementation Programme, National Planning Commission, HMG Nepal, in collaboration with IUCN-The World Conservation Union, 1991. p. 24-31.
MATERIAL TYPE: Chapter in Book
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Education, Environment

SUMMARY:
Women are the primary participants in agriculture, food processing, water and fuel collection. They can play a vital role in environmental education at the community level and in the integration of sustainable practices. However, their effectiveness is impeded by their low social status and low access to education and information. There is a severe shortage of formal and non-formal education programs for women.

This chapter summarizes the environmental and social conditions women must contend with in Nepal. Recommendations are presented for both government and NGO programs to recognize the crucial role women play in the changes that are needed. Both short-term and long-term strategies are presented to integrate environmental education in existing and future community development projects.

COMMENTS:
Problems are identified and potential solutions are suggested, but detailed instructions on how these programs may be implemented are not provided.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady


Women and Sustainable Development

JOURNAL: Women in Action, Vol 4/92 & 1/93, 1993.
MATERIAL TYPE: Journal Issue
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Agriculture, Community Development, Economics, Environment, Group Building, Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, Law & Legislation, Water & Sanitation

SUMMARY:
Several articles relevent to women and sustainable development are included in this issue, as well as case studies from Africa and Asia. Of particular interest:

"Some thoughts on development and sustainable development", by Kamla Bhasin, summarizes economic attitudes and practices that cause environmental and human exploitation. She highlights elements of sustainable development that respond to these problems. There is a need for grassroots action, environmental responsibility, decentralization of control, (i.e. local level development), and nonviolence. Networking among people's organizations is critical.

Also, articles by Devaki Jain, Maria Mies, Peggy Antrobus and Judith Bizot.

COMMENTS:
Good introduction to major concepts in sustainable development. Includes excerpts from several texts on this issue, and a bibliography of recommended readings.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady


Women, nature and environment

AUTHOR(S): Ahmad, Asmat A. and Huq, Tahera Yasmin
BOOK TITLE: Environment and Development: a sub-regional perspective: proceeding of a workshop organised by ADAB (Bangladesh), INODEP-ASIA and ACFOD, Bangkok, 1991.
IMPRINT: Bangkok: ACFOD, 1991. p. 30-36.
MATERIAL TYPE: Chapter in Book.
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Agriculture, Environment

SUMMARY:
This paper describes rural women's work and traditional beliefs and taboos that regulate their activities. Many development programmes are beginning to tag on a women and environment component to their project policies, but the transfer from policy to action often falls short. Women may be accused of perpetuating "unsustainable activities" without outsiders understanding the underlying reasons why they continue certain practices. Women need to have an integrated role throughout the policy development process, not just within a subsection.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady


Women, water and workload

PRODUCER.CREATOR: Murago-Munene, Jane, for the UNICEF Kenya Country Office
LENGTH: 14 minutes.
DISTRIBUTOR: Nairobi: Ace Communications Ltd., Video Resources Centre (TVE), 1994.
MATERIAL TYPE: Video, VHS PAL.
LANGUAGE: English
SUBJECTS: Health, Water and Sanitation

SUMMARY:
Maasai women in Kenya are responsible for a wide variety of jobs ranging from parenting to house building. Added to this workload is the search for drinking water during the dry season. A number of health problems and diseases are attributed to poor water supply, such as skin conditions and eye infections. Flooding during the rainy season brings its own health risks due to water contamination and malaria. Secure local water supplies would greatly reduce women's workload and improve the health of people in the community.

This film highlights the efforts of the women in one village who have organized to address community problems. With the assistance of UNICEF, women have created local pharmacies in areas where there are no medical clinics. They are active in education campaigns and organize families to provide clean water for the local school.

Comments:
This short film provides a good introduction to health problems associated with water shortages, and the social consequences for women.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady