United States
             Environmental Protection
            Off ice of
            Public Awareness (A-107)
            Washington DC 20460
             Revised June 1978
            OP A 8 6'8
Women and
the Environment.
Women as
Agents of Change

 Dear Friends and Colleagues:

 The work of the United States Environmental Protec-
 tion Agency is directed towards achieving balance be-
 tween human activities and the ability of nature's
 systems to sustain life. Many of these air, land, and
 water systems are being endangered because of pollu-
  We cannot succeed in the monumental task of
 cleaning up the environment and preventing pollution
 without the help of every citizen.
  Since our creation in 1970, we have worked with
 State and local governments, citizen organizations
 and countless private individuals to inspire public sup-
 port and participation. We believe that women, who
 traditionally have exercised the caretaker role in socie-
 ty,  have special skills and can make a considerable
 contribution to meeting environmental challenges.
  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 the active support of all women for
 the arduous jobs ahead.
Sincerely yours,
Barbara Blum
Deputy Administrator



Women  and the Environment

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 fruitfulness, Artemis,
Moon goddess and controller of the ocean tides.
Women have personified nature, as men have sym-
bolized organized  society. Women as bearers and
conservers of life, as those who first guide children,
should be foremost in  dedication to the  environmental
  Our nation and  our world are facing compelling and
complex environmental questions. The issues of air
pollution, water quality, toxic substances, noise
levels, nuclear radiation, public health protection, con-
servation of  wildlife, and food supply in an increas-
ingly populous world, loom even larger as we come to
understand that we cannot transcend nor disregard
the hard realities of our world.
  Nature's resources and the carrying capacity of
nature's systems are finite. We need to learn both to
conserve what we have now and to reach out for new
ways of using and reusing resources. For example,
what are the trade-offs that can lead to points of
compatible balance between growth and ecological
responsibility? Women must be involved in every
aspect of these  policy  decisions as our society strives
for fresh responses to  these difficult questions.
  Women have  the opportunity to bring a new sen-
sibility to bear on  environmental policies.
  Women have  made great gains in the  struggle for
equal opportunity  for jobs and education. Women
have challenged the stereotypes of women's abilities
which have artifically constricted roles and behavior.
Nevertheless, it  is  undeniable that women have had a
different historical experience from that of men. This
has given women  a distinct world-view and a dif-
ference in perspective  which women can contribute to
the tough environmental decisions we all face.
  Women have  played and must continue to play a
wide variety  of roles within the environmental move-
ment. As homemakers, as consumers, as health
custodians, and as environmental activists and profes-
sionals, women  are engaged in the changing environ-


Women as Homemakers
Linked to  the Environment

By the nature of their traditional roles, men and
women have experienced the environment in different
ways. Men have functioned in the "open" world, a
place where resources were seemingly endless,
waiting upon his domination, and the only apparent
limits were those which were 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 sus-
tain 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 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.
Women's awareness of this seeming  paradox gives
her useful insight in finding solutions to environmental

             " ' 


Women as Consumers
Linked to the Environment

As consumers, women have a powerful potential in
environmental policy decisions. In the United States,
women often to a great degree determine how the
consumer dollar is spent, because women shop for
themselves, their children or their husbands. The rela-
tion 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 and land. 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 depen-
dent 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  alternative, renewable energy
sources, such as solar,  wind, and geothermal sys-
tems.  Finally, women's consumer power may largely
determine whether this nation  can make an orderly
transition from fossil to other fuels or whether
massive dislocations and scarcities will occur. Women
may well determine  the future of the environment by
their success or failure in becoming caretaking con-


Women  as Health Custodians
Linked to the Environment

Women well understand the impact the environment
has on health. Women are concerned with good
health and use health care facilities in this country
two and a half times as frequently as men do.
Women are the primary custodians of children's
  The health of women is affected directly by a
number of the toxic chemicals in widespread use. For
example, 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 con-
tamination has been implicated in breast cancer,
fibroid tumors, and excessive menstrual bleeding. The
environmental risks posed to pregnant women and
fetuses are of special concern, and these hazards now
are being investigated and assessed by scientists.
With women's involvement, choices between eco-
nomic expediency and health can be resolved in favor
of health and future well-being.

               ^r ^^M.A

Women  as
Activists and Professionals

As environmental activists women have made pro-
found contributions. For example, in Japan, in the
late 1950s, it was women who led the struggle that
ended the Minamata disease, an organic mercury
poisoning which claimed hundreds of lives and in-
flicted suffering on thousands more. A small group of
women in the poor fishing village of Minamata
launched an  attack  on the large Chisso Corporation
demanding financial compensation for the victims and
their families, a halt to the dumping of mercury
wastes in the bay, and major readjustments in the in-
dustrial process. It is noteworthy  that this battle to
force the Chisso Corporation to end a health hazard
to the community was won by nonmanagerial female
  Individual women have led the  way in the environ-
mental movement. In 1958, Rachel Carson, a marine
biologist, began an  investigation of the effects  of
pesticides on nature's biological order.  Her findings,
written in Silent Spring in  1962, produced a revolution
in environmental thinking.  Today,  many women, pro-
fessionals and activists, focus the attention of society
on major environmental issues.


Women  as
Agents  of Change

Women must become even better informed and
more deeply involved at every level of environmental
decision-making   as scientists, as political activists,
as administrators  of public  and private agencies, as
homemakers, as caretaking consumers, and as custo-
dians of life.
  Women representing a unique combination of
values, sensibilities  and strengths,  are agents of
change for an environment in which the errors  of the
past will be rectified and our future environment made
healthful and secure.
  Readers interested in more information on EPA are
invited to get in touch with the  EPA Regional Office
most convenient to them.
EPA Regions and States
EPA Region 1
Rm. 2303 J.F. Kennedy Bldg.
Boston MA 02203
Connecticut, Maine, Massachu
setts, New Hampshire, Rhode
Island. Vermont

EPA Region 2
Rm. 1005. 26  Federal Plaza
New York NY 10007
New Jersey, New York, Puerto
Rico, Virgin Islands 212-264 2525

EPA Region 3
6th and Walnut Streets
Philadelphia  PA 19106
Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, West Virginia, District of

EPA Region 4
245Courtland St. N.E.
Atlanta GA 30308
Alabama,  Georgia, Florida,
Mississippi, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky

EPA Region 5
230 S. Dearborn
Chicago IL 60604
Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan,
Wisconsin, Minnesota
EPA Region 6
1201 Elm Street
Dallas TX 75270
Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma,
Texas, New Mexico

EPA Region 7
Rm 249. 1735 Baltimore Ave.
Kansas City MO 64108
Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska

EPA Region 8
Suite 900. 1860 Lincoln St.
Denver CO 80203
Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Mon
tana,  North Dakota, South Dakota

EPA Region 9
215 Fremont Street
San Francisco CA 94105
Arizona, California,  Nevada,

EPA Region 10
1200 Sixth Avenue
Seattle WA 98101
Alaska, Idaho, Oregon,