Gender Perspective Needed in World Environmental Policies
As communities nationwide celebrate Earth Day today, women environmental leaders are calling for more women decision-makers in environmental policy worldwide. According to Lorena Aguilar, senior gender advisor to the World Conservation Union, a coalition of environmental organizations, “More often than not, women are not associated with discussions on the environment.” The absence of women’s voices, however, raises grave concerns for women, especially in developing nations where women’s livelihoods are so closely connected to natural resources. According to Justine Sass, author of Women, Men, and Environmental Change: The Gender Dimensions of Environmental Policies and Programs, when accessibility of resources is limited, women’s “are often most keenly affected” because of the relationship between environmental resources and women’s labor. Sass uses deforestation as an example. “For women, deforestation makes it more difficult to collect wild herbs, fruits and natural medicines, or fuel wood for cooking and boiling water.” Sass adds, “When women must travel further distances and take more time to collect fuel wood and water, girls are often taken out of school to assist.”
Often women in the developing world have limited access to leadership roles in the environmental arena because of their lack of political power. 1998 Nobel laureate Amartya Sen rationalizes that one of the best ways to create sustainability may be through “advancing gender equality, through reversing the various social and economic handicaps that make women voiceless and powerless.” One of the most egregious social handicaps for women in this regard is the lack of reproductive rights. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has found that empowering women and enabling them to control their fertility and reproduction are key to ensuring better environmental conditions and a decrease in global poverty. UNFPA advises that increasing women’s opportunities and providing for women’s equality and reproductive health are “critically important, both the improve the well-being of growing human populations and to protect the natural world.”
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .