Women comprise over half the world’s population. They make a major contribution to the well-being and sustainable development of their communities and nations, and to the maintenance of the earth’s ecosystems, biodiversity and natural resources. In Women and the Environment, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) highlights the many roles that women play. This publication shows that a gender perspective on environment and development calls for a specific focus on the contributions, needs and visions of women, as their positions have too often been neglected in environmental arenas. Stressing the value of examining sustainable development through a gender perspective, it explores specific policies, strategies and practices in environmental use and conservation. These should inspire and advance the work of UNEP, its constituencies and partners, including governmental and international agencies; and also civil society organizations.
Designed to appeal to women and men alike and enhance their awareness of gender issues, Women and the Environment invites men in particular to take an active interest. It is now widely understood that: "policies that target women only cannot achieve the best results. Nor can those which assume that public actions are gender-neutral in their effects. Hence, promoting gender equality implies a profound change in socio-economic organization of societies: not only in the way women work, live and care for the other members of the households, but also in the way men do, and in the way their respective roles in the family and community are articulated with the need to earn a living" (United Nations, 1995).