Is sustainable development possible without gender equality?

Eco-feminism is a great approach to support nature as well as livelihoods

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-Anu Chatterjee

Sustainable Development is a type of development which focuses on proper usage of resources without wastage to meet the needs of present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs through those resources. Sustainable Development must ensure natural resource management. Gender Equality is an important component of envisioning the mission of sustainable development as inter-generational equity is impossible if gender biases and inequalities are not addressed. Even the inter-generational equity will suffer if these inequalities exist consistently. Thus, we can firmly state that without gender equality, there can be no sustainable development.
Men and women use different resources to carry out their day to day activities. Hence, it is essential to know what affects their work and which resources are being used prominently by both the genders. Managing the natural resources is an important element which constitute sustainable development. Due to gender based division of labour, both the genders have different roles to perform. Women are associated with collection of fuel,water,fodder and certain types of agricultural work at subsistence level but still they have no rights over the land in which they produce food. It is the woman who suffers more due to inadequate food supply or if she is unable to collect fuel for even a single day because she is responsible for all the household work and still her work is considered unproductive.
The knowledge regarding gender based division of labour will help in solving various environmental issues like deforestation. Chipko Movement, which took place in India also depicted that women should contribute in protecting forests as without forests, they will not be able to cook because cooking requires fuel and timber. Women actively participated in this movement and took valiant steps to conserve forests as they knew that protecting the forest will help them to survive.
Tribal women of Chhattisgarh earn an income by selling the fruits and making wines out of those fruits. Their sustenance depends on forests and the lands they have. They are ones who are involved in weaving famous Kosa sarees of Korba district which requires a lot of time. Women are the major workforce involved in this industry. They are the ones who have to rear and weave. Even the eco feminists like Vandana Shiva state that women must participate actively for conserving nature as it mostly affects them. We can also see that rural women suffer due to deforestation, water pollution, famines, drought and other environmental disturbances as they have to travel long distances to collect water and fuel. Due to deforestation, they have to spend a lot of time and energy in search of fuel and timber. Due to droughts, rivers have dried up and due to air pollution, river water is not safe to drink. We can observe the intensity of their suffering and dilemma due to certain unsustainable activities which is not only affecting the health of women and men but it is also affecting the health of upcoming generations which will directly affect the progress of nation.
The World Bank draws special attention towards gender equality while talking about the sustainable development along with the natural resource management. Therefore, we must consider talking about gender equality when we are looking for sustainable development as without gender equality, development will make no sense because various aspects will be missed out and sustainability will never get fostered without letting women participate in the natural resource management.

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