United States       June 1980
        Environmental Protection   OPA118/0
        Agency
<>EPA  Women and
        Envinonmentalism:
        Forces for Change

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Remarks of
The Honorable Barbara Blum
Deputy Administrator
United State
Environmental Protection Agency
Before the
Regional Conference for Women
Dallas, Texas
Friday. March 14. 1980

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   .his conference is the first in a series of regional forums
leading up to the World Conference of the UN  Decade
•or Women in Copenhagen this summer  It brings
together the concerns of two major forces of change in
c i- -cieiety—the environmental movement and the
women's movement It brings into sharper focus the
progress of American women in health, employment
and education And, most importantly, what we must
do to tackle our unfinished agenda
  Too often, health, education and employment are
viewed as chief concerns common to us only in  today's
times In fact, the history of America is the story of
women who have been at the heart of virtually every
major social reform We are, however, only now
beginning to learn about them
  The textbooks, when I was growing up, told quite a
different story When I first studied the movement to
abolish  slavery, I  wasn't taught that it was led by black
and white women working together I didn't know
about Harriet Tubman, who brought more than 300
slaves to freedom after escaping herself
  I had a  notion that women in the cotton mills of the
South struck against 13-hour days and other inhumane
working conditions  But  I didn't realize that in the late
19th century, women comprised  80 percent of America's
factory  workers and that only when they  banded
together did improved  working conditions begin to
occur
  It was a long time before I  learned that another
woman. Dorothea Dix, led the campaign against the
cruelty of prisons and hospitals for the mentally ill in
the early 1800's And that a black woman, Ida B Wells,
led the fight against lynching as editor of the Memphis
Free Speech
  On and on it goes—a remarkable record by women
who decided to make a difference in their own lives and
m society  These women wanted to fulfill their own
destinies and  improve life for everyone
  My job. and the job of my agency, were created by
just such women
  In 1958, Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, began an
investigation of the effect of pesticides on nature's
biological  order  Her findings, written m  "Silent
Spring" a  few years later, changed fore\er
environmental thinking m our country  Insisting that all
life is interconnected, Carson warned that we must slop
poisoning  our planet or we would poison ourselves and
generations to come
  In my judgment, it is no accident that it took a
woman  to focus national attention on the mindless
exploitation of the earth's resources And it is no
accident that it has been a cadre of women across
America who continue to provide the backbone and
momentum for the drive to protect the environment

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  The fact of the matter is that in our culture, women
?nd the environment are closely bound We are bearers
and conservers of life  We are homemakers and
consumers We are community activists, who are
maxmg our views known when industrial expansion
threatens a neighborhood park or when toxic
substances in the food we eat and the air we breathe
endanger our health or that of our families We are
working women, too—women who. from a variety of
perspectives, know what happens when companies don't
take the initiative to curb pollution
  In short, women are intimately involved with the
environment  Sadly, however, we ha\c not moved into
top policymaking positions in environmental fields
With few exceptions, women have left it to men to
become pollution control engineers and managers of
corporate health, safety and environmental programs
As  Deputy Administrator of EPA. I have made it a top
priority to do all I can to rectify the situation—by
tripling the number of women in key policymaking jobs
at EPA and by insisting that 40 percent of the members
of EPA's advisory committee!) be women and
minorities
  EPA. in other words, is making progress It goes
without saying that we still have a long way to go
  For women everywhere, it is a familiar refrain
  Today women make up over 51 percent of the
nation's population, but  hold only 10 percent of all
public offices Only two of our country's Governors are
women The U S Senate boasts one woman, Nancy
Kassebaum of Kansas  She was elected in her own
right, a major departure from  the past 200 years of U S
history Most women who reached this high office in
the past did so by completing their husbands' terms
Now serving m the U S  House of Representatives are
16 women—alongside 419 men There are 770 women
serving in state legislatures This is double the number
10 years ago. but only 10 percent of today's total
  Across the country,  the number of women who work
has increased significantly  But women today earn only
60 cents lor every dollar men make
  No wonder Eighty percent of all working women
today are clustered  in jobs traditionally labeled
"women's work"—teaching,  nursing, sales and clerical
services Women, for example, compose 84 percent of
the  nation's elementary school teachers, but women are
only 19 percent of the  principals of these schools
Ninety-seven percent of the nurses in our country  are
women, but women are only 11 percent of the
physicians
  The number of corporate  managers who are women
is on a sharp upswing  Still there are about five times
more  men in these positions
  The New York Stock Exchange reported in one
recent year that women hold 43 I percent of the market
value of all public corporate shares—over SI 18 billion
However, an organisation that keeps labs on the

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advancement of women says you can almost count or
one hand the number of chief executive officers in
public corporations who are women  And, the last tinr
I checked, less than 300 women sit on corporate boan
of directors—hardly a reflection of the interests that
female consumers and stockholders have m these
companies
  Discouraging17 Of course. But  I also would call your
attention to the very real progress women have  made
Sometimes, it can be measured statistically  Other tim
standard tools fail to capture the extent and depth of
the change

• Twenty years ago, feminist author Gloria Steinem,
reflecting on her childhood in Toledo, said. "I came t<
believe,  especially in my teenage years, that I could nc
be a  particular thing, I would  have to marry it."
Contrast this with today's teenager

• Ten years ago, the Equal Rights Amendment to the
Constitution was little more than a gleam in the eyes
a few Despite the rocky road ERA has travelled in
recent years, it is on the  way to becoming a reality,
having accumulated not only stronger support but
psychological acceptance that  spreads far and deep.

• Today. American women are drastically changed in
attitude, behavior and aspirations Activated by the
consciousness-raising of the women's rights movement
we are going forward in every walk of life, with
stronger feelings of identity and self-confidence.

  We truly have come a long  way The question is
where we go from here— and how In my judgment, w
have a special obligation—and I believe, opportunity-
not only to keep moving forward ourselves but  to hel]
other women do the same
  We must work together, closer than  ever before.
Support, promote, recommend, prod, advise and
champion each other It  is to be expected that women
have different constituencies, strengths and concerns.
Far from crippling us, these differences can make  us
stronger, multiply our accomplishments and broaden
our base of support
  Next, we must guard against elitism. From this day
forward, let  it never be said that an Hispanic woman
fighting for good gynecological care has nothing in
common with a female professor denied tenure  or a
woman  plumber who is not paid the same as her male
counterpart  The advancement of each woman and all
women  will arise only from our ability to achieve
consensus, enthusiasm and widespread support for
issues that cut across class and circumstance

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   Finally, women must assume the responsibility of full
partnership with men in making every aspect of the
home, community, the nation and the world work. The
era of placing all the blame on men or institutions for
what they have done to us is over. Today we are ready
to become women who do, instead of being done to
   Improvement in women's health, education and
employment will mean nothing if the world around us is
defiled and if our resources are squandered  Where the
environment is not protected, public health cannot be
maintained  If this happens, the quality of life declines
and the wellbemg of the next generation is jeopardized
On the other hand, my efforts to protect the
environment will be meaningless unless women have the
personal and political power to enjoy and maintain
what we have protected  It is as simple, and complex,
as that
   Environmental issues are women's issues, if only
because we are half the population In our traditional
role, we must take on the responsibility of leading
personal lives which reflect  understanding of the
environmental consequences of what we do—and don't
do We must educate our families in the same way But
women must do more We must go beyond what's
personal and traditional  We can and should enter
environmental fields as scientists, engineers, physicians
and policymakers More women must also influence
environmental policy and decisionmaking There is not
a local, state or Federal agency that wouldn't benefit
from help in making the rules that translate legislative
intentions into programs that work
   These changes are not an easy or overnight matter
The big victories, whether it's  winning the vote for
women or passing the Clean Air Act are few and far
between  That will always be so Most change comes  a
little at a time, but it all adds  up, decision by decision
and day by day That women are moving forward—and
together—is what counts  Forge new alliances with
others who share your concerns and hopes for the
future Recognize that you start, not from a position  of
weakness, but one of strength
   The first  Women's Rights Convention of about 300
people took place at Seneca Falls. NY. in 1848  The
women there had to overcome many obstacles  Even
their right to assemble and discuss the issues was
challenged  The Seneca  Falls Convention prevailed,
producing a full catalog of wrongs committed against
women and a set of constructive ways to address them
  Today. 152 years later, we are ai  ijjite a different
point We begin, midway m the UN Dciadc for
Women, knowing what our grievances are and  knowing
that change is possible We  know this, and we know
more The Houston conference five years ago. part of
the UN Decade, took us another step forward—by
bringing American women together to set priorities on
our agenda As a result, we have a 14-pomt National

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Plan of Action which virtually all of us can support  In
Dallas, it remains for us to develop the strategies to
make the national plan a national reality.
  Let us examine what is standing in our way only
enough to pinpoint a strategy to overcome it  Let us
share the successes we have already had and think
together about how to adapt the experience to other
areas of concern  Let us send a message to Copenhagen
that America stands ready to join with women of the
world to correct all that has held us back for too long
  Everyone stands to benefit, as we set out to improve
the status of half the world's people. There is an
African saying that when you teach a man, you teach
one person; when you teach a woman, she teaches the
whole community.
  That is what the history of the women's movement is
all about, and that-is what our future is all about The
women's  cause is a movement by half the world's
people for all of the world's people. As Lucy Stone said
in 1848, "it is not  an ephemeral idea    of women
claiming the right to smoke cigars in the streets "
  Rather, it means a nurse going back to school to
become a chemist. It means a housewife seeking
recognition of the economic value of her work in the
home It  means an Hispanic woman seeking improved
conditions for migrant workers And a  Native American
woman teaching her craft in a museum for the first
time It means a woman building a cooperative to make
a Zambian village more self-sufficient  It means me, an
executive in government, who is struggling to protect
the environment without sacrificing other important
values  And it means you
  We m America  who work to make a new place for
women are immensely fortunate  We know, judging
from history, that the major improvements we seek are
inevitable Sooner or later, these things will come about
as a result of the efforts and progress of the women's
movement
  Today  and tomorrow, we will be  doing what women
have always done—pooling resources and knowledge
for  the benefit of everyone I have confidence m this
process  1 believe that women right  here, right now, can
design strategies for the future—not only for ourselves
but for women all over the world
  The U S  will help map that strategy in Copenhagen
this summer  But our meetings m  Dallas and shortly in
other cities provide opportunities for the women of the
United States to lay the foundation
  We must  not  underestimate the value of our own
experiences, both personal  and shared, in striving for
these goals

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EPA is charged by Congress to protect the Nation's land, air and water
systems  Under a mandate of national environmental laws focused on air
and water quality, solid waste management and the control of toxic
substances, pesticides, noise and radiation, the Agency strives to formulate
and implement actions which lead to a compatible balance between human
activities  and the ability of natural systems to support and nurture life
If you have suggestions, questions
or requests for further information, they
may be directed to your nearest
EPA Regional public information office
EPA Region 1 • JFK
Federal Bldg • Boston
MA 02203 • Connec-
ticut. Maine. Massachu-
setts. New Hampshire
Rhode Island. Vermont •
617-223-7223

EPA Region 2 • 26
Federal Plaza • New
York NY 10007* New
Jersey New York, Puer-
to Rico. Virgin Islands •
212-264-2515

EPA Region 3 • 6th
and Walnut Streets •
Philadelphia PA 19106
• Delaware. Maryland.
Pennsylvania, Virginia,
West Virginia. District of
Columbia •
215-597-4081
EPA Region 4 • 345
Courtland Street NE •
Atlanta GA 30308 •
Alabama. Georgia
Florida Mississippi.
North Carolina. South
Carolina Tennessee
Kentucky*
404-881-3004

EPA Region 5 • 230 S
Dearborn • Chicago IL
60604 • Illinois. Indiana
Ohio Michigan, Wiscon-
sin. Minnesota •
312-353-2072

EPA Region 6* 1201
Elm Street • Dallas TX
75270 • Arkansas Loui-
siana. Oklahoma. Texas
New Mexico •
214-767-26JO
EPA Region 7 • 324
East 11th Street*
Kansas City MO
64106 • Iowa. Kansas.
Missouri. Nebraska •
816-374 6201

EPA Region 8* 1860
Lincoln Street •
Denver CO 80295 • Col-
orado. Utah, Wyoming.
Montana North Dakota,
South Dakota •
303-837-3878

EPA Region 9* 215
Fremont Street • San
Francisco CA 941O5 •
Arizona California Hawaii,
Nevada. Pacific Islands
• 415  556 1840

EPA Region 10* 1200
Sixth Avenue • Seattle
WA98101 -Alaska,
Idaho. Oregon. Washing
ton-206-442 12O3
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