:. 1
United States
Environmental Protection
Office of
Public Awareness (A-107)
Washington DC 20460
November 1977
             and the Environment,
             Women as
             Agents of Change


                             Dear Friends and Colleagues.
 t',                          The work of the United States Environmental Protection
                             Agency is directed towards achieving balance between
                             human activities and the ability of nature's systems to sustain
 {-                           life  Many of these air, land, and water systems are being
•o                          endangered because of pollution
                               We cannot succeed in the monumental task of cleaning up
"^                          the  environment and preventing pollution without the help of
,.i                           every citizen
*j                             Since our creation in 1970, we have worked with State and
^                           local governments, citizen organizations and countless private
                             individuals to inspire public support and participation We
                             believe that women,  who traditionally have exercised the
                             caretaker role in society,  have special skills and can make a
                             considerable contribution to meeting environmental chal-
                               We are proud to relate to the concerns of women As an
                             agency we take pleasure in honoring women who have
                             pioneered in environmental protection and we earnestly enlist
v                            the  active support of all women for the arduous jobs ahead.
                             Sincerely yours,
                             Barbara Blum
                             Deputy Administrator
                                      ,    .        riitidutii  ProtecUo-i A,,'..
                                      A- ->'0'i D. Ut>Mry \rvl2J)
                                      ••'  vV-i Jackson Boulevard, 12th
                                      <:hic,,jj3, H   60604-3590


Women and the environment are closely bound Throughout
history, women have been immortalized as powerful symbols
of nature Mother Earth, Earth goddess, Demeter and Ceres,
the Greek and Roman goddesses of agriculture and fruitful-
ness, Artemis, Moon goddess and controller of the ocean
tides We have embodied nature, as man has symbolized
organized society It is clear that women as bearers and
conservers of life, as those who first guide children, should be
foremost in dedication to the environmental cause
  Where do we stand now9 Our Nation and our world are
facing compelling, complex, and seemingly unresolvable
environmental questions The issues of air pollution, water
quality, toxic substances, noise levels, nuclear radiation,
public health, conservation of wildlife, and food supply in an
increasingly populous world loom, ever larger as we come to
understand that we cannot by the mere exercise of our wills
transcend the hard realities of our world
  Nature's resources are finite Where are new resources to
be found9 Decisions must be made about what we want and
what we can have in this world. What are the trade-offs to be
and are we willing to make long-term readjustments in our life
patterns9 Women must be involved in every aspect of these
policy decisions
  Women have the opportunity to bring a new sensibility to
bear on environmental policies We have made great gains in
our struggle for  equal opportunity for |0bs and education. We
have challenged the stereotypes of women's abilities and
appropriate role behavior Ours has been a different historical
experience than men Consequently, women have a distinct
world-view reflected by their roles in society and their value


Women as Homemakers
Linked to the Environment

By the nature of their traditional roles, men and women have
experienced the environment in different ways The male has
functioned in the "open" world, a place where resources were
seemingly endless, waiting upon his domination, and the only
limits were those self-imposed The woman has worked as a
homemaker, as a  manager of time and resources within a
clearly defined sphere, the parameters of which are fixed To
create and sustain a household, she  has dealt with limited
quantities of money, food, and other necessities
  Today, our recognition that our planet has a fixed capacity
to sustain life is what every homemaker long has known
Home, whether that of the individual,  of society as a whole,
or of all other creatures, is a  place of infinite complexity but
of finite resources Woman's awareness of this seeming
paradox gives her a useful insight in  finding solutions to
environmental problems


fife &*•

Women as Consumers
Linked to the Environment

As consumers, women have a powerful potential in environ-
mental policy decisions In the United States, women deter-
mine how the consumer dollar is spent, as they shop
for themselves, their children or their husbands The relation
between consumerism and natural resources is a critical one.
National policies in the United States are determined largely
by economic power What we decide to consume determines
what wastes are returned to the Earth's air, water, land, and all
the other biotic systems that absorb and convert pollution.
What we consume determines who is employed and who is
not, and at what level and skill. What we consume determines
whether we become precariously dependent on imported
resources, how rapidly we bankrupt domestic resources, how
fast we use up the world's fossil fuels, and how much time we
have to permit the development of alternate, renewable
energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal sys-
tems  Finally, our consumer power determines  whether this
nation can make an orderly transition from fossil to other fuels
or whether massive dislocations and scarcities will occur. We
may well determine the future of the environment by whether
or not we are caretakmg consumers


Women as Health Custodians
Linked to the Environment

Women well understand the impact the environment has on
health  Women use health care facilities in this country two
and a half times as frequently as men do We are the primary
custodians of children's health
  Women's health is affected directly by a number of the
toxic chemicals in widespread use  Many women show
concentrations of DDT in their breast milk DES (diethylstil-
bestrol) that a generation ago was medically prescribed to
prevent miscarriages in women, and more recently has been
used as an animal feed supplement, now is being scrutinized
as a possible health hazard DES contamination has been
implicated in breast cancer, fibroid tumors, and excessive
menstrual bleeding. The environmental risks posed to preg-
nant women and fetuses are of special concern, and these
hazards now are being investigated and assessed With
women's input, choices between economic expediency and
health will be resolved in favor of health and future well-being


Women as
Activists and Professionals.

As environmental activists, women have made profound
contributions. We have brought fresh eyes to the problem
because we have been less enmeshed in the economic
hierarchy For example, in Japan, in the late 1950"s it was
women who led the struggle that ended the Minamata dis-
ease, that claimed hundreds of lives and inflicted suffering on
hundreds more as a result of organic mercury poisoning  A
small group of women in the poor fishing village of Minamata
launched an attack on the large Chisso Corporation, de-
manding financial compensation for the victims and their
families, a halt to the dumping of mercury wastes in the
bay. and major readjustments in the industrial process It is of
the utmost significance that this battle to force the Chisso
Company to end a health hazard to the community was won
by nonmanagerial female employees
  Individual women have led the way in the environmental
movement In 1958, Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, began
an investigation of pesticides, primarily DDT Silent Spring, a
book that told of the effects of chemical pesticides on
nature's biological order, was  published in 1962  It produced
a revolution in environmental thinking Today, many women,
professional and activists,  cause society to focus on major
environmental issues
  Women must become even more informed and involved at
every level of environmental decision-making as scientists,
deciding upon research priorities and strategies, as political
activists, sounding the tocsin of alarm, as administrators of
public and private agencies, as homemakers with a special
understanding of limited resources, as caretakmg consu-
mers, using purchasing power to exert pressure on produc-
ers, as custodians of life, demanding that health concerns be
given top priority With every role that we assume, we bring a
special set of sensibilities,  values, and strengths
  We, as women, must be agents of change for an environ-
ment that will reflect our commitment to health, well being,
and the future


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Agents of Change
in the Environment
EPA takes this opportunity to honor women who have been in
the forefront of environmental change in many ways This list is
neither complete nor definitive It is but a partial listing of
women recommended by their peers  There are many, many
  We  would like this roster to grow and reflect those who by
their spirited  involvement and commitment to protecting the
environment will lead us closer to achieving quality of life
Barbara Reid Alexander
Jean Auer
Nancy  Bartlett
Barbara Blum
Lee Botts
Shirley  Bnggs
Marjorie Carr
Torey Casler
Claire T Dedrick
Elizabeth Dodson-Gray
Gwen Douglas
Antoinette Downing
Louise  Dunlop
Marion  Edy
Mollie Feathenngill
Helen Fenske
Peg Garland
Mary Louise Hancock
Ellen Stern Harris
LaDonna Harris
Joan Hayes
Hazel Henderson
Jean Hennessey
Celia Hunter
Lady Bird Johnson
Mildred Leet
Merle Lefkoff
Michele Madoff
Mary Ann Massey
Gladys Mead
Margaret Mead
Mary Meyers
Patsy Mink
Mary Nichols
Joan Martin Nicholson
Maureen O'Connell
Holly O'Konski
Marion Parks
Ida Murphy  Peters
Lola Redford
Lucy Smethurst
Mary Sinclair
Sylvia Troy
Char White
Beatrice Willard
Joan Wolfe
Jane Yarn

United States
Environmental Protection
Office of
Public Awareness (A-107)
Washington D C  20460
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use

Postage and
Fees Paid
EPA 335

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