WOMEN IN THE FIELD OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Dr. Rani Sahu  
Center for Energy Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Delh110016
 

Women's participation in the formulation, planning and execution of environmental policy continues to be low. At the same time, the international community has recognized that without women's full participation, sustainable development cannot be achieved.

Women have a key role to play in preserving the environment and natural resources, and in promoting sustainable development. For example, women still have the main responsibility for meeting household needs and are therefore a major force in determining consumption trends. As the women play a leading role in all the household affairs of a family, which is based on the family values. It is no wonder that the women are outstanding and able to glorify all the national, religious, economic, education, health, cultural fields as they are born of and brought up in the society which gives honors to them. As such, women have an essential role to play in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound consumption and production patterns.

Role in prevention of health hazards from environmental pollution

As every one knows all the activities of any household started with women from morning to evening. They play the keystone role in dealing the air, water, soil, living creature and all above the environment as a whole. As we are very sensitive to the various kinds of environmental pollutions like water, air, soil and noise pollution. And these kinds of pollutions invite the several kinds of diseases like food poisoning, bacterial, fungal and viral attack and several kinds of carcinogenic problems. The famous women in this are Amita Devi, Maneka Gandhi, Medha Patekar, Arundhati Royand Rachel Carson and many more.

Reinforcing Women's Capabilities

There is growing recognition of the need to strengthen women's capabilities to participate in environmental decision-making, by increasing their access to information and education, particularly in the areas of science, technology and economics.

Women's and men's environmental perceptions, their interests and rights in the natural environment, and their environmental awareness and knowledge may differ significantly from one another, and from one cultural or ecological context to another. Their different perceptions arise out of particular cultural traditions, various experiences of colonial rule, specific impacts of the global economy, and other locally relevant factors, such as climatic patterns. They are reflected in the prevailing gender-based division of labour; in the various responsibilities and rights that women and men have in the use and ownership of land, trees, animals, plants, and water; and in the different knowledge that women and man may have about the sustainable management of particular natural resources and ecological zones.

Women's access to the natural environment, especially the resources that they use to provide food, shelter, health maintenance, and income, has been jeopardized by many S&T interventions, and the well-being of their husbands and children, who typically benefit from the use and cash value of women's environmental activities, has also been undermined. In addition, women's lack of access to development planning and policy formulation has also had a negative effect on the effective, long-term management and protection of the natural environment and the promotion of sustainable development.

Recognizing women's environmental needs an interest in S&T interventions for sustainable development involves the promotion of sustainable livelihoods, the protection of the natural environment, and women's equitable participation and conceptual authority in environmental decision-making. Any failure to these needs and interests is likely to have a negative impact on women's ability to provide food, household needs, and income for themselves and their families, on their ability to use and manage the natural environment in a sustainable manner, and on their equitable participation as environmental decision-makers in their own communities.

The government is giving priority to all-round progress of the mother country, and in this context, it is also making systematic efforts to extend and strengthen the inborn rights of women, which they have enjoyed throughout the successive eras, and to develop the women's sector in accord with the State's political, economic and social objectives and the national requirements. It is also a time when effective efforts are being made to organize the active and brilliant force of the women in the national development endeavors.

Everyone knows women are victims of war, but they are never represented at the peace table,”  

Women’s status in Science and Technology  

Women, of course, have made significant progress in expanding their roles in science and technology. But the news is mixed. First, the good news, and it start in the education pipeline. Today in K-12 education, there is little difference in the mathematics and science proficiency between boys and girls. We are seeing more diversity in science and engineering in higher education in science and technology. About one-third of freshmen women intend to major in science and engineering, compared to 37 percent for men. While there is a huge drop-off rate between an intention and a degree, in 1995,3.8 percent of the U.S. female population earned a natural science or engineering degree, up from 2.1 percent in 1980. Women now earn almost half of all natural science degrees at the bachelor’s level, up from a quarter in 1975. And in the past 20 years, the share of science and engineering doctoral degrees earned by women doubled from 15 percent in 1997 to 31 percent in 1995. The picture is also improving for minority women. In fact, a higher proportion of females choose to major in environmental sciences. Increasing representation in the education pipeline is translating to some gains in the work force. While women have increased their participation in engineering--from earning 2 percent of engineering bachelor level degrees in 1975 to 17 percent in 1995--clearly, women still have a long way to go. And that long road includes the road to the work place. Engineering is among the technical fields most closely associated with high technology. Women aren't in engineering--even though women who work in engineering earned the highest median salary for women in the scientific and engineering workforce. So what can we do to expand women's ranks in technology? 

I believe each one of us can play a role. First, teachers and guidance counselors must have the information and training needed to encourage girls' and women's interest in IT and other technical disciplines--what are the careers, what do they pay, how do you train for them and so on. Parents need to be informed as well. Our research shows teachers, counselors, and especially parents exert a profound influence on a student's choice of career. A student's own interest and skills also play a large role in choice of career; early Women the world over are fast becoming a transforming influence on science, Environmental protection and management, business, government, health care, law and many other areas. They are astronauts and accountants, publishers and prime ministers, symphony conductors and computer scientists, environmentalists and entrepreneurs. If you'd like to engineer a future filled with opportunity and change, why not start at by keeping the women ahead, as the building stone of the society.