By Diane MacEachern, Big Green Purse, Author, Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World
The recent attacks on women’s access to safe and affordable contraception and other reproductive health options may not seem like they have much in common with the environment. But twenty years after the first Earth Summit occurred in Rio de Janeiro, a key obstacle to achieving sustainable development has emerged: global discrimination against women.
While researching a report on women and sustainability for the United Nations Development Programme, I was shocked at the degree to which gender discrimination in developed and developing nations alike prevents millions of women from leading more sustainable lives. Gender inequalities also prevent society as a whole from adopting widespread practices that would create a healthier environment.
Here’s what I found:
Women are more inclined than men to favor sustainability as a lifestyle choice. Research shows that this is true in poor and rich regions alike. Further, women buy more environmentally sound products, eat less meat, and use public transport more often than men.
Women are motivated in large part by their reproductive role and the impact their purchases could have on their families’ long-term well-being. Where men are more likely to turn to technological solutions, women demonstrate a greater willingness to change lifestyle behaviors, to consider the “precautionary principle” in their day-to-day choices, and to buy products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefit .
This should bode well for environmental change, as women control 65 percent of global spending, which amounts to $20 trillion annually. In urban areas, women make the final decision for buying 91 percent of home purchases, 65 percent of new cars, 80 percent of health care choices, and 66 percent of computers. In rural areas, women spend more money than men for food, clothing, school supplies, appliances and other items that directly benefit their children and family.
Photo from Big Green Purse
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