The role of the girl-child in environmental sustainability.
Have you ever meditated to establish the activities we humans engage in that are detrimental to the environment? Are there measures to accomplish a balance between humans and the earth’s resources? Should the focus of roles in environmental sustainability be on the girl-child?
DO YOU HAVE INTERESTS IN GENDER AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY? If yes, then this article is for you.
Nature as a phenomenon does a pretty good job at taking care of itself. Plants, as well as animals use the resources provided by nature to meet their needs, yet, they never take more than what is required for their survival. Unfortunately, we see that humans have a way of meddling in the affairs of nature’s environment. One might wonder how exactly we humans meddle in the affairs of our natural environment. This ranges from the performance of our day-to-day activities (especially with the rapid increase in technological advancement today), to industrial activities, domestic affairs and even the process of child-birth. Yes, Child-birth! Activities such as deforestation, industrial technology, population, pollution (air, land, seas) among others are specific processes that threaten environmental sustainability.
Environmental sustainability according to Dr. Gillaspy is responsible interaction of humans with the environment to avoid depletion or degradation of natural resources and allow for long term environmental quality. It is safe to say, environmental sustainability (or lack of) is one of the major problems facing people in Africa, most especially Nigerians. Over the years, various measures have been put out and roles played to balance the affairs of nature with activities of mankind. When taking notes of the role of the girl-child in environmental sustainability, controversies of gender equality may arise. Should environmental sustainability really be gendered or should it be taken as a responsibility of the entire human race in general? In a bid to garner different opinions on gender roles relating to environmental sustainability, I took a survey on 12 individuals. 33.3% believe the role of environmental sustainability lies in the hands of the females and the future of an eco-friendly environment would be established by the activities of the girl-child, 58.3% believe it is the responsibility of the human race, both male and female to ensure a sustainable environment (although realistically, there are some gender/ sex variations in these roles), while the remaining 8.33% do not have any ideas on environmental sustainability, hence, no views. Just as the “garbage-in garbage-out” principle, if the entire human race is responsible for activities which are harmful to the environment, the entire human race should have roles to play in sustaining and “detoxifying” the environment. However, in other not to be blinded by feministic views or sound chauvinistic, one has to accept that the girl-child in fact has characteristic roles to play in environmental sustainability.
In the various patriarchal societies we live in (especially in Africa), once a girl-child is born to the family, she is trained to be the “mother” of her current and future home. These “motherly” roles are defined by the society as home keeping, raising of children among other things. Environmental sustainability could go as cheap as cleanliness of the home, beautification of the environment as well as gardening. Women in general are regarded as the home-makers. It is far from proven that women are more environmentally conscientious than men as a rule. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) studies of household behavior show that women are more likely than men to buy recyclable, eco-labeled and energy-efficient products.
The advancement of gender equality in the society today may be at the heart of the progress to advance on environmental sustainable development. Women are now in more productive and decision-making roles and we (humans) are moving faster towards sustainability in the environmental sense.
In addition, the birth of children is one of the human behaviors that pose a threat to environmental sustainability. A more populated environment equals a higher demand for food, water, energy and housing (which could result to deforestation for more living space). More people could also easily contribute to pollution of the environment. Females are educated today on the importance of family planning on our immediate environment and the society at large.
Given the importance of gender and the roles of the girl-child in environmental sustainability, these issues should be more prominent in discussion of sustainable development. It should be noted however, that men also have characteristic roles to play and it should be the duty and responsibility of both man and woman to create an eco-friendly environment.
By Yeside Ade.
FABE International Foundation is a not-for-profit environmental health organization passionate about the establishment and improvement of an eco-conscious generation committed and dedicated to the restoration, conservation, environmental sustainability, and protection of the environment. Our mission is to promote environmental sustainability, by engaging our youths and women in the identification, exploration, and facilitation of sustainable eco-solutions to problems caused by the impacts of climate change, affecting the health and environment of people and biodiversity in Nigeria through advocacy, education, youth development, women empowerment, community engagement and participation.