We are taking today to participate in Gender Across Border and CARE’s Blog for International Women’s Day. Their theme this year is ‘Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.’
Today is International Women’s Day. What that means is that on this day, all around the world, people are celebrating women and the awesome contributions they make to society.
My first introduction to International Women’s Day was in Florence, Italy in 2008. We were staying at a small hotel and the dining room was closed off for a women’s banquet celebrating women in Florence. I assumed it was a European thing, as I had never heard of it in the US. It’s not though. It’s truly international in that groups here in the US, groups in Europe and groups working in places all around the world will celebrate women today.
Now, what in the world does this have to do with the environment? I’m so glad you asked. The intersection of women and the environment is gaining more and more recognition – particularly in ‘developing’ countries. Plus, women have done some pretty wonderful things in the fields of the environment – Rachel Carson kicked off the modern environmental movement, Karen Warren started a new way to talk about women and the environment, and Vandana Shiva was just awesome.
When it comes to the intersection of women and the environment, The Women’s Earth Alliance is getting to the heart of it and inspiring change. The Women’s Earth Alliance highlights some of the key connections between women and the environment, but I want to pay particular attention to the subject near and dear to my heart: Women and Water.
When talking about women and the environment, water is a fantastic example of how women are stepping up to engage with the policies that govern their environment. Women are the primary collectors of water and can spend up to eight hours a day collecting water for their households.
Despite this, the technologies that are produced by companies to ease access to water issues are not designed with women in mind — the handles are too high or too much force is required to move it, or it is located in an unsafe area for women. A paradox is created where women are the collectors of water, but men are the producers of technology. These roles become gendered, and almost incompatible. Because men produce the tech, and patriarchy rules, women are not able to influence policy.
But this is changing. Women are striking back and winning back their right to decide on water policy. In East Africa, the Women’s Earth Alliance highlights the role that women are playing in water policy today. In various communities in South America, women are speaking up about their water needs and how to best address them. Women are being trained in the technology side of things, which allows them to break into designing the technology that they will use.
Women are doing awesome things, and refusing to sit by while their lives are dictated by gender norms. I think that’s cause to celebrate, don’t you?