Women and the Environment

Introduction

In the culture and tradition of our country, special attention to the environment and

nature, as the most basic symptoms of God, is considered as the high characteristics

of the humanism. In our holy Quran, one of the characteristics of those who believe

in God is attention to the creation of God and the goal based ecosystems. Also the

main characteristics of those who do not believe in God is destroying the nature and

denying it goal based system.

Preventing waste is one of the main beliefs of Iranians which controls the proper

usage of natural resources with the benefit of sustaining the living environment.

The Iranian women especially those living in rural areas and villages, as the users

and consumers of natural resources, have had a great role in maintaining the environment.

Their methods in recycling garbage, reduction in polluting substances,

provision of food and nutrition, upgrading the living style and non-official perseverance

of environment, shows their key role in fostering environmental culture and

the management of Ecosystem.

The activities and efforts of women in governmental level, civil society and their

popularization in public level shows the development of women in sustainable

development and maintenance of living environment.

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Article 40

No one is entitled to exercise his rights in a way injurious to others or detrimental

to public interests.

Article 50

The preservation of the environment, in which the present as well as the future generations

have a right to flourishing social existence, is regarded as a public duty in

the Islamic Republic. Economic and other activities that inevitably involve pollution

of the environment or cause irreparable damage to it are therefore forbidden.

Vision

Twenty years vision of the country:

A society with pleasant and appropriate living environment.

Charter of Women’s Rights and Responsibilities

13.Right to have the benefits from a sound living environment and responsibility to

safeguard it.

Current Situation and Achievements

Involving women actively in environmental decision-making bodies

K.1 INVOLVE WOMEN ACTIVELY IN ENVIRONMENTAL DECISIONMAKING

AT ALL LEVELS

The Islamic Republic of Iran believes in promoting women’s role in sustainable

development and preserving living environment. Accordingly, women’s active par-

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ticipation in higher levels of policy making and lowest levels of implementation has

been observed so that the Head of the Department of Environment has been a

female and women have acted as director general and experts in the Supreme

Council of Preserving Environment by chairing of the President and as members of

boards at university and implementing centers.

Providing access for women to information and training

The Islamic Republic of Iran has undertaken considerable actions to build the culture

of environment, focusing on women and children. Face to face training of

women regarding preserving environment, employing media and programs for children

and adolescents and using books at school by the Department of Environment

are some of the actions to be mentioned. It is worth mentioning that working on

children regarding environment builds the culture and makes it an internal belief

that can be very useful in the future life of these children.

Advocacy regarding threats to environment in workplace and home

In this regard, the Department of Environment, besides other cultural activities, has

published books and brochures. One of the activities that this organization has

undertaken in collaboration with UNFPA, is a book called “Environmental

Knowledge” written in a very simple and understandable language for all female

population and rural women including pictures and statistics. This book is for

women and reflects information to preserve environment, which women’s attention

to these points can be very effective in culture building and promoting knowledge

and changing social behaviors.

Participation in decision making and implementation

At grass-root levels and NGO level, 730 NGOs are working regarding environment

in the country. 40 of these organizations are under female supervision and 7 are

completely female ruled. Focus of these organizations is mostly training and culture

(Javaherian Zahra, Saba publication, No.6, pages 4-5).

At implementation level, the Head of the Department of Environment is a female

who holds the title of deputy to the President. Two women are present in the

Supreme Council of Preserving living Environment under supervision of the

President that is involved in policy making and programming for environmental

issues.

Also, number of female experts in different fields of environment has increased significantly

during the last years so that the number of women working in environmental

organizations has doubled and there are 4 female director generals working

in these organizations (National Report on Sustainable Development, page 128).

Women’s Empowerment Regarding Environment

One of the target groups for empowerment is women and organization for preserving

environment has taken measures in cooperation with other NGOs. Holding

training workshops for rural women, publication and distribution of books, publications,

brochures among rural and nomad women are some activities done by this

organization. It is to be mentioned that rural and nomad women are in direct contact

with natural resources and preserving living diversity and fighting against con-

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taminants, repelling pests, and erosion of the land can be controlled and directed by

rural and nomad women. They represent better understanding of the environment

and to preserve jungles and natural resources there should be more activities in collecting

fuel and other needs, which are mostly provided from the nature. Rural

women can also have a crucial role in preventing waste accumulation and pollution

of the environment.

In urban areas, women can play important role in amending behaviors and patterns

of water, and energy usage and managing waste disposal and air pollution.

K.3 STRENGTHEN OR ESTABLISH MECHANISMS AT THE NATIONAL,

REGIONAL AND INTERNATION LEVELS TO ASSESS THE IMPACT OF

DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMETNAL POLICIES ON WOMEN

Strategies of Sustainable Development

In some countries including Iran, instead of solving environmental problems; prevention

strategy has been adopted bearing the objective of sustainable development

and the main strategy is mitigation of resource consumption and waste recycling.

This plan developed under the title of “Green Government or Green Governance”

10 years ago (www.iranlee.org/lolat_sabz.plf).

Also, decrease of energy and paper usage, which are the main sectors of consumption

dependant on sustainable resources and creating a lot of pollution, became center

of attention in 2001.

In this regard, mitigating water consumption and renewing pipelines, installation of

control devices, water financial auditing, installing new equipments and measures

to decrease water usage at kitchen and toilets inside settlements, has leaded to 50

percent drop of water consumption and there are some provisions through financial

auditing of energy usage to decrease energy usage and the primary estimations

show a significant decrease.

Regarding papers, after identifying main paper consumers, first deputy to the president

gave orders in decreasing paper consumption and promoting electronic government.

The motto of electronic governments in different countries; on-line government,

knowledge based society, contract with future, are the strategic frame

works in the era of information and environmental empowerment for free and independent

communication.

Changing Consumption Patterns

In changing consumption patterns, government has committed itself in implementing

programs and the strategies adopted are as follows:

Rehabilitation of energy consumption through reducing lighting, heating and cooling

systems and increasing efficiency of energy equipments.

Rehabilitation of water consumption through reducing water consumption in different

sectors and promoting water consumption systems’ efficiency and separating

irrigation water from urban water network.

Rehabilitation of paper consumption and recycle of used papers, utilizing electronic

systems and substitute it with paper.

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Recycling of wastes through “Green Purchase” instruction and best use of recycled

wastes.

Rehabilitation of governmental transportation system for transporting staff and

improving use of governmental machines through technical screening, continuous

fixing and maintenance.

64 models of automobiles are being produced in the country with consideration

of environmental standards and the previous production of the country has not

been standard. There is also the plan of retiring old cars, which will be 20,000

in 2004, and two million from 2005 till 2008 that will have a considerable

impact over the air pollution of big cities.

Mitigating Environmental Contaminants

“In 2003, many of governmental and private factories causing environmental

pollution, such as Arak Aluminum Factory that didn’t pay attention to the warnings,

were suspended and after repairs and solving problems started its activity

again”.

Natural Disaster

Regarding natural disasters, earthquake, has been the most destructive one and

caused the highest rate of human casualties. Trainings of the Islamic Republic

Broadcast Organization have targeted mainly women. Also, the municipality of

Tehran has taken steps for preparedness and support coordination in disaster

management with active participation of local communities, especially women.

Government’s Actions

Appointment of a female deputy to the President and Head of the Department of

Environment.

Presence of 2 female members in the Supreme Council of Environment.

Appointment of 4 female director generals.

Increase in the number of women working in this field to 79 and membership of 23

women from governmental organizations in National Committee of Sustainable

Development.

National movement of preserving environment by the active participation of

women.

Holding various conferences in provinces regarding women’s role in environment.

Holding training workshops of eco-gene in 1999 with the aim of analyzing the relations

of gender and environment.

Holding training workshops for rural women regarding rural environment management.

Supporting women’s NGOs active in the field of environment and creating proper

sphere for increasing the number of these organizations.

Conducting different programs to promote environmental knowledge of women at

different levels to achieve sustainable development.

Implementing the plan of promoting environmental knowledge of rural and urban

women to reach to sustainable development. This plan has been implemented in 16

provinces and in each province 10 female advocates have been trained.

Training rural and urban women in 4 provinces to introduce basic concepts of environment

to them.

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Creating the website of Women and Sustainable Development in cooperation with

Network of Women’s NGOs.

Participation in two international conferences on Female Ministers and Global

Environment.

Publishing and distribution of books and reinforcing training and advocating

medias; Training rural women to mitigate pests; Cooperation in eradicating pests;

Under pressure irrigation; Preserving jungles and pastures; Qanat; Preserving jungles

from destruction and desert eradication.

The possibility of studying environment at university; till 1997 this field of education

was only for men.

Creation of women’s database and an inter-organization women’s committee to

review recommendations and comments on different problems.

Women’s NGO Activities

In general, 67 activities have been undertaken by Women’s NGOs to preserve

environment. Most of these activities have been seminars on different environmental

events and trainings.

Holding meetings on different environmental vents by women’s NGOs having the

mission of preserving environment.

Trainings and camping for female members of the organization to introduce

women’s role in preserving environment.

Activities to raise awareness in public regarding serious environmental concepts.

Holding consultative meetings with authorities to influence governmental policies.

Setting up exhibitions using different events.

Conducting researches.

Preparing brochures and training materials and awareness raising.

Preparing scientific articles using research results regarding the issues of women

and environment.

Formation of associations and committees and membership in bigger networks.

Designing the tools of an environment friendly school.

Submitting environmental project proposals to governmental organizations.

Setting up libraries.

Implementing projects for preserving environment.

Considering the fact that environmental activities is not limited to women’s NGOs

and other organizations such as environmental, youth, service-delivery and capacity

building organizations are also involved; it is not possible to ignore the crucial

role of civil society and summarize it to the activities of women’s NGOs.

Most of the activities undertaken by these organizations have been capacity building

through workshops and conferences and less has been done on advocacy.

To implement environmental programs, entering local community and direct

involvement in ecological conditions and women’s role in it is a necessity. The basis

of this action is phasing out awareness raising stage through advertisement and

enter advocacy phase. Also, trainings should not be duplicated and innovative methods

should be adopted in skills training taking into consideration the diversity of

rural, urban and nomadic target groups.

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CCNWN Activities

Establishing an Environment Commission in the existing commissions of the network.

Publishing statements on the occasion of the Day of Clean Air.

Holding a participatory-technical meeting regarding women, environment and the

Fourth Development Plan in cooperation with the Department of Environment.

Holding consultative courses on sustainable development regarding Rio statement.

Allocation of two volumes of Saba publication (of the network) to environmental

and women issues.

Fourth National Development Plan

According to Article 64 the Department of Environment is committed to implement

the following:

A: To prepare and gain the approval of environmental code of conduct to achieve

the objective of promoting public awareness and sustainable development emphasizing

on major groups from the beginning of Fourth Economic, Social and Cultural

Development Plan of the Islamic Republic of Iran. All relevant organizations, media

and the Islamic Republic Broadcasting Organization are committed to implement

training programs without expecting any payment including influential group of

women.

Challenges and Constraints

Lack of knowledge regarding environment among all women and the whole population.

Environmental pollution and heavy traffic in macro cities and production of automobiles

with high fuel consumption and not standard cars in the country that threatens

the life of mothers and children.

Lack of awareness and preparedness of women to deal with natural disaster and

houses with low stability against disasters.

High energy and water consumption couple of times more than global standards

where in other places women and children are deprived form these two gifts.

Undefined rural and urban consumption models and improper household consumption

patterns.

Recommendation to the Government

Achieving active participation of local communities considering the Islamic culture

of Iranian people, especially women, in identifying needs of public services.

Planning and logistics and fundamental design in cities to maximize the benefit of

women from environmental facilities.

Encouraging social, economic, political, and scientific organizations for a campaign

against deterioration of environmental conditions and its impact on women.

Facilitating access of women involved in agriculture, fishing and husbandry to education,

and skills training.

Marketing and technological ecological services to support and reinforce their roles

and expertise in resource management and maintaining ecological variety.

Evaluating environmental impacts of policies and programs and women’s access

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and usage of natural resources.

Supporting knowledge and natural-household technologies of women which traditionally

exist in rural areas and among nomads such as homeopathy.

Including knowledge and traditional methods of women regarding usage and management

of resources in environmental and advocacy programs.

Supporting access of women to housing, potable water, and low energy consumption

technologies.

Support and facilities to women involved in production of organic and recycled

products.

Recommendation to NGOs

Communication and exchange of information with technical NGO groups like

women, youth and environmental groups to prevent overlap and duplications.

Emphasizing on environmental advocacy programs through entering local communities

and involving local women and beneficiary groups in the activities.

Supporting and participating in environmental activities which are important for

women and providing information to help mobilizing resources toward maintaining

and preserving environment.

Reinforcing advertising, visual, written information distribution systems regarding

environmental issues and women’s role in preserving it and using environmentally

safe products.

Promoting women’s capacities in utilizing better consumption models at home.

Encouraging women in producing agricultural, food and consumption products

according to environmental standards and reinforcing marketing of these products

to gain the support of governmental decision makers and directing capitals toward

it.

Conclusion

The main method of the Islamic Republic of Iran in preserving the living environment,

is to do prevention on the basis of realizing the sustainable development. The

Department of Environment is a supervising organization and the implement of living

environment policies is in the responsibilities of affiliated Ministries.

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Women and the Environment

146 National Beijing+10 Report of

the Communication Network of

Women's NGOs of the I.R.I