Gender and the environment: Women's time use as a measure of environmental change
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This paper uses time as a measure of change in gender roles under environmental stress. Whether women are perceived as having a natural "affinity" with the environment or as contributing to the depletion of natural resources, no one can deny that women play an important role in environmental conservation. Research should take the factor of gender into consideration. In order to illustrate the interaction between changes in gender roles and environmental stress the paper gives examples from several case studies. These case studies were carried out in areas with low agriculture, and where structural adjustments and migrations destabilize the traditional gender patterns, often resulting in a heavier burden on rural women. In dryland communities, women tend to be the most affected by environmental degradation. Using time as a measure one can see how changes affect women and men differently at different stages. For example, during the dry season (when there is enough food for two meals a day) women's food preparation and cooking time increases. Women tend to walk further to collect resources such as water or fuel, carry heavier loads each time, the quality of the woods also decreases, and to save fuel women move to indoor cooking (ill ventilated kitchens cause high exposure to smoke). One can also say that these strains can allow for some opportunities too. The paper explains that due to the scarcity of resources families are using alternative cooking methods and greater numbers of men are becoming more involved.