Women's Health and the Environment

Women are often most sensitive to changes in the environment because they are in closest contact with the home and the land; they are the first line of defense. Survival of women and their families is closely linked to the health of the land, forests, fisheries and other natural resources. There is strong evidence of the irrevocable damage caused by environmental assaults during various stages of the life cycle, particularly to the fetus and growing child.

Unsustainable patterns of production continue with women facing serious health risks, especially reproductive health, as they become more active in the labor force. To a large extent, occupational risks to women are still unrecognized, uncharacterized and uncontrolled. Increased use of pesticides threatens women's health and the health of future generations in all parts of the world. Despite governments' commitments on environmental health in Cairo, official action and public awareness of prevention and risk reduction remain inadequate.

Source: Risks, Rights and Reforms: A 50-Country Survey Assessing Government Actions Five Years After the International Conference on Population and Development (WEDO, March 1999)

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