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Gender Issues in Waste Management

Incorporating gender criteria in waste management planning

Why incorporate gender aspects in waste management planning? Gender issues come to the fore as technical aspects of waste management give way to social aspects. Two key dimensions are usually highlighted -
  1. There are differences in the way women and men look at waste. Thus taking gender issues into consideration means that generation of waste, and hence the definition and designation of what will become 'waste', becomes important.
  2. Recycling and reusing of wastes have critical gender dimensions, particularly those that could be used in setting up or be used in an informal sector enterprise.

The above two dimensions have to be contextualized within broader developmental priorities that also influence waste management. These priorities include, for example, the local environment, health and hygine, quality of life and lifestyles, economic and business opportunities from waste management, consumption/production patterns etc.

Commission on the Status of Women (1997):
Agreed Conclusions on Women and Environment

10. The active involvement of women and the national and international levels is essential for the development and implementation of policies aimed at promoting and protecting the environmental aspects of human health, in particular, in setting standards for drinking water, since everybody has the right to access to drinking water in quantity or quality equal to his or her basic needs. A gender perspective should been included in water resource management which, inter alia, values and reinforces the important role women play in acquiring, conserving and using water. Women should be included in decision-making related to waste disposal, improving water and sanitation systems and industrial, agricultural and land-use projects that affect water quality and quantity. Women should have access to clean, affordable water for their human and economic needs. A prerequisite is the assurance of universal access to safe drinking water and to sanitation, and, to that end, cooperation at both the national and international levels should be encouraged.

Beijing Platform for Action (1995)

358. (b) Develop gender-sensitive databases, information and monitoring systems and participatory action-oriented research, methodologies and policy analyses, with the collaboration of academic institutions and local women researchers, on the following:

(ii) The impact on women of environmental and natural resource degradation, deriving from, inter alia, unsustainable production and consumption patterns, drought, poor quality water, global warming, desertification, sea level rise, hazardous waste, natural disasters, toxic chemicals and pesticide residues, radioactive waste, armed conflicts and its consequences;

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Read GDRC's report on gender policy considerations for e-waste