Environmentalisms and gender interests in the Third World

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Much environment and development discourse assumes that women are the ‘natural’ constituency for conservation interventions. This article attempts to illuminate this assumption with the lens of a gendered critique of environmentalisms (technocentric, ecocentric and non-western). How do the intellectual roots of Western environmentalisms influence the positions, or non-positions, of contemporary environmentalism with regard to gender? What does research on environmental perceptions in non-Western societies imply about gender differentiation in environmental relations? The article concludes that there are no grounds for assuming an affinity between women's gender interests and those of environments and that such a view is symptomatic of the gender blind, ethnocentric and populist character of western environmentalisms. By contrast the application of gender analysis to environmental relations involves seeing women in relation to men, the disaggregation of the category of ‘women’, and an understanding of gender roles as socially and historically constructed, materially grounded and continually reformulated. The issue of how far women's gender interests and environmental interests go hand in hand leads us to pose a broader question of the degree to which environmental conservation is premissed upon social inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-677
Number of pages29
JournalDevelopment and Change
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1993

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