Here’s an excerpt from The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics, prepared by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations


Poor infrastructure and housing conditions as well as natural hazards disproportionately affect women from the less developed regions in terms of unpaid work, health and survival. More than half of rural households and about a quarter of urban households in sub-Saharan Africa lack easy access to drinking water. In most of those households, the burden of water collection rests on women, thereby reducing the amount of time they can spend on other activities, whether income-earning, educational or leisure.

Lack of access to clean energy fuels and improved stoves in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Southern and South-Eastern Asia continue to have a major impact on health. Women are more exposed than men to smoke from burning solid fuels because they spend more time near a fire while cooking and more time indoors taking care of children and household chores, thus increasing their likelihood to develop respiratory infections, pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Furthermore, several natural disasters in the less developed regions, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, claimed more female than male lives, suggesting that more needs to be done in terms of providing equal access to information and life-skills development.

All these environmental factors will continue to disproportionately affect women as long as gender-differentiated roles and expectations in the household, family and community life are maintained. At the same time, the participation of women in environmental decision-making, particularly at a high level, remains limited, thus restricting the integration of women’s issues and gender perspectives into policy-making on the environment.

This excerpt is taken from the Executive Summary.

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  1. Laurel Kallenbach November 15, 2010 at 10:50 am - Reply

    My mom and I have been big supporters of Women for Women International, which offers education for women in war-torn countries so that they can start business ventures that will improve their lives and their communities.

  2. Beth Partin November 16, 2010 at 8:45 am - Reply

    I’ve heard of that organization too. I’ve been following Zainab Salbi on Facebook, but I haven’t gotten involved in any other way.