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  1. 1

    Environmental issues of special concern to women and children. Discussion note.

    United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP]

    [Unpublished] 1992. Presented at the International Conference on Population and Development [ICPD], 1994, Expert Group Meeting on Population and Women, Gaborone, Botswana, June 22-26, 1992. 5, [1] p. (ESD/P/ICPD.1994/EG.III/DN.17)

    Environmental degradation is a universal concern, affecting such basic human needs as food and water. Consumption and population need to be managed in order to assure natural resource sustainability, worldwide survival, environmental protection, and global well-being. Women and children are affected differently in developed compared to developing countries. In developing countries survival is a struggle, and environmental damage affects women first through, for instance, increased workload or poor quality water. Children are affected, for instance, through increased mortality and disease. The most critical environmental problems affecting women and children are conditions that threaten provision of food, safe water, and fuel for cooking or warmth. Contaminated water supplies, lack of adequate sanitation, and overcrowded conditions increase the human, animal, and crop hazard. Water is contaminated by agricultural run-off, industrial waste deposits, and sewage. Protection of watersheds and water quality have implications for the many rural women dependent on farming for their livelihood. Chemical contaminants from pesticides and fertilizers are particularly harmful to pregnant or breast feeding women, if ingested. Hazardous wastes from urban and industrial areas provide other hazards to women and children. High energy consuming countries contribute to natural resource depletion and pollution from industrial releases into the air, water, and soil. Women in developing countries use fuelwood, which contributes to deforestation. The time and energy used to collect fuelwood diminishes human resources. Deforestation reduces supply and contributes to greenhouse gas build-up. Other fuel available, such as agricultural waste and dung, are used instead as important fertilizers, without which soil becomes degraded. Land degradation limits food production, contributes to malnutrition and desertification, and limits women's means of livelihood. Women have an important role in managing natural resources, which entitles them to participate in community decision making.
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  2. 2

    Children, women and the environment.


    [Unpublished] 1991. [2], 15 p.

    The relationship among children, women, and the environment is approached within the framework of UNICEF. The impact of environmental degradation on children is greater and has longterm effects. An approach to the problem of environmental degradation is to focus on the well being of children and their mothers. Activities to improve well being involve household food security (techniques for improved and sustained crop yields and better food processing and storage), water and sanitation activities, household fuel security (agroforestry and fuel efficient stoves), and promotion and/or facilitation of breast feeding. The aforementioned "doable" activities alleviate the workload and contribute to better health for children. Other "doable" activities which contribute to well-being are formal and informal educational and advocacy, reduction of child mortality, and other health improvements (oral rehydration, immunization). The strategy is to provide interventions to improve conditions at the household and community levels along with social mobilization and encouragement of longterm self-reliance. The assumption is that high impact, low cost techniques with achievable actions can stimulate other local and national initiatives and empower communities. Underlying causes must be considered: poverty, consumption patterns. Discussion focuses on the underlying causes and conditions that need improvement and are "doable". Sustainability is augmented by social mobilization and advocacy. It is underscored that those without means for providing the basic necessities of life cannot be placed in the position of directly caring for the environment, because survival is at stake. Mobilization of governments, national and international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations and communities is needed. Solutions are complex so that even partial "doable" solutions demand immediate attention. Production techniques must be environmentally sustainable and sound for all countries. Integrated health and family planning are necessary for lowering birth and death rates and reducing pressure on limited resources. The goals must be perceived by local populations as a benefit because of a better standard.
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