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Involvement of women and men in the management of the environment

Modified on 2015/05/22 10:53 by Sean Zheng Paths: Read in Order Categorized as Chapter 2 - Environment
Table II.15

From gender issues to gender statistics on the involvement of women and men in the management of the environment: illustrative examples


Policy-relevant questions Data needed Sources of data
Are women underrepresented in high-level decision-making related to environmental issues? Managerial positions in environment or environment-related ministries (such as forestry, fisheries, energy, urban planning, water and sanitation, and agriculture) by sex of the holder and type of ministry.

Positions in national coordinating bodies related to the environment, climate change or desertification by sex.
Administrative records.
Are women as likely as men to be enrolled in or to graduate from environment-related fields of study (such as environment, water, agriculture, forestry and energy)? Tertiary education students by detailed fields of study and sex.

Tertiary education graduates by detailed fields of study and sex.
School administrative records
Are women more involved than men in sustainable consumption and environmentally-friendly behaviour, such as recycling, saving water, saving energy or buying eco-friendly products?

Do women use public transportation for commuting more often than men?


Are women more often than men active members of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in environmental protection?
Distribution of adult population by sex and various types of self-reported behaviour related to environmental protection.



Distribution of adult population and population using public transportation for commuting by sex.

Distribution of adult population by sex and active membership in local NGOs related to environmental protection.
Population-based surveys, including opinion and value surveys.




Population-based surveys, including opinion and value surveys, and public transport usage surveys.

Population-based surveys, including opinion and value surveys.

  • + Gender issues
    • Women are underrepresented in environmental education and environmental high-level decision-making. Women are still not electing to enter education programmes related to the environment that may be perceived as “male”. In many countries, women are underrepresented among students in tertiary education and graduates in fields of study related to the environment, such as environmental protection, forestry, agriculture, water and sanitation, energy and life sciences. Furthermore, women tend to be underrepresented among professional occupations that may be connected to the environment, such as life sciences, agriculture and certain domains of engineering. Adult women and men may also have different levels of access to non-formal adult education and training, and information and technology. Lastly, in terms of high-level decision-making, women are a minority in the managerial positions of environment ministries and in other environment-related national coordinating bodies (United Nations, 2010).

      Women and men may also have different roles in protecting the environment at the community and domestic levels of decision-making, in local non-governmental or grass-roots organizations and through day-to-day activities (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2011). Often, women and men are not equally represented in the management of local natural resources. Their representation in local non-governmental or grass-roots organizations related to the environment may also be unequal. Furthermore, women’s and men’s day-to-day choices may have a differentiated impact on the environment. For example, in some developed countries, women tend to recycle more often than men, tend to choose public transport for commuting and, when they get a car, choose smaller, less polluting and more efficient cars (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2008).

  • + Data needed
    • Data needed to analyse the management of the environment from a gender perspective refer to:

      (a) Managerial positions in environment or environment-related ministries (such as forestry, fisheries, energy, urban planning, water and sanitation, and agriculture) by sex of the holder and type of ministry;

      (b) Positions in national coordinating bodies related to the environment, climate change or desertification by sex;

      (c) Tertiary education students by detailed fields of study (such as environment, water, agriculture, forestry, energy) and sex;

      (d) Tertiary education graduates by detailed fields of study (such as environment, water, agriculture, forestry, energy) and sex;

      (e) Participation in non-formal education or training related to environment by sex;

      (f) Active members of local NGOs or grass-roots organizations related to the environment by sex;

      (g) Members of local managing groups of community natural resources, such as local forests or local watersheds, by sex;

      (h) Population regularly involved in sustainable consumption and environmentally-friendly behaviour, such as recycling, water saving, energy saving, use of eco-friendly products and proper garbage disposal, by sex;

      (i) Adult population and population using public transportation for commuting by sex.


  • + Sources of data
    • Population-based surveys, including opinion and value surveys, can be used to collect data on (a) involvement of the population in sustainable consumption and environmentally-friendly behaviour, such as recycling, water saving, energy saving, use of public transportation for commuting and proper garbage disposal; (b) active membership in environment-related local NGOs; and (c) participation in non-formal education or training related to the environment. As the proportion of people involved in these kinds of activity can be quite small, it is important that the survey chosen to integrate these questions has a sample large enough to disaggregate the results not only by sex, but also by other characteristics, such as age, educational attainment, urban/rural areas and geographical areas.

      School administrative records can provide data on students and graduates disaggregated by sex and detailed fields of study.

      Other administrative records may be used to obtain sex-disaggregated data on managerial positions in environment ministries or membership in relevant national coordinating bodies.

      Community surveys, often conducted at the same time as multi-topic household surveys, can be a rich source of data on the participation of women and men in the local management of environmental resources, such as local forests or large watersheds. They may also be able to provide data on the sex distribution of members of local groups involved in environmental protection.

      When available, public transport usage surveys may be able to provide data on women and men using public transportation for commuting.

  • + Conceptual and measurement issues
    • Collection of data on involvement in the management of the environment is not usually part of the regular programme of national statistical offices. However, collection of such data can be integrated into (a) existing multipurpose household surveys; (b) existing data collections on education from administrative records, by requesting detailed fields of study for tertiary education students and graduates; and (c) data collections on women and men in positions of decision-making in environment or environment-related ministries.

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