Johnsson—Latham, Gerd. A study on gender equality as a prerequisite for sustainable development. The Environmental Advisory Council, Ministry of the Environment, Sweden.

This is a booklet, readily available from the above site. It gives, in absolutely simple, jargon—free English the clearest and best written analysis of women´s place in the physical environment I have ever read. The author illustrates how, wherever they are, women consume less than men, even as those of us in the minority world consume far more than the majority of the world´s population. She also explains how crucial it is, that these different consumption patterns need to be taken into account in any planning of sustainable development. Also, with our increasing awareness and the urgent need to act on climate change, carbon emissions and shrinking resources, she states that we must study how women consume differently and incorporate this into actions for sustainability.

She has impressive statistics to back up her analysis; the average person in the USA uses twice the resources of the average person in the EU, but that person uses five times more than the average Asian. Human consumption reflects that women in general [even in progressive Sweden] earn and consume less than men.

Turning to the poor worldwide, she writes about those who live in a ´survival economy´; they consume so little and have very limited CO2 emissions, that, ´they could be described as the salvation of the [over-consuming] rich´. Even there, she writes gender gaps in access to resources and consumption, ´are greatest in poor families.´

Everywhere men are privileged in healthcare and education, access to food, particularly protein, and employment opportunities. This booklet is a gem of a resource in itself; serious students and activists in environmental and social issues should read it carefully (and check out the extensive references).

Johnsson—Latham, Gerd. Power and Privileges — on Gender Discrimination and Poverty. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Government of Sweden. Available in Swedish & English. www.ud.se/

“Gender discrimination and equality are not technical issues — they are issues of political power and values and whether or not everyone should have the same rights, be entitled to a decent life and be regarded as equal partners in development cooperation.” From the introduction

This is another excellent booklet from Sweden with Johnsson—Latham reporting as the director of a government project on women and poverty. It complements the previously reviewed booklet and studies women´s poverty in depth. Women´s poverty is different in degree and quality; women in every situation have less power and privilege, including little ability to affect legal change for their own advantage. We learn about the removal of reproductive rights for women from any UN and international documents to please the USA & others — to the continuing disadvantage of women everywhere.

After the findings of the study, the project recommends a 10—point strategy for long—term work. This is an extensive and detailed strategy with local and global application. It includes; the right of women to be included in all partnerships of developing gender equality. The UN Millennium Development Goals, include gender equality; Canada has signed this agreement & we never hear a word of it here, these agreements have to be publicized and governments must be held accountable; the cost of post—conflict reconstruction must be analyzed —again women suffer most in current conflicts; and women need to be included and, when necessary, trained, to participate in planning bodies at all levels. The need to focus on women´s rights to resources, including land, freedom from violence and access to decision—making as crucial aspects of the rule of law (I think of how so—called ´honour killings´ are never treated as murder); women´s reproductive rights, the need for ant—violence campaigns and legal literacy for women everywhere are detailed. Development must recognize the effects of ´the predominate masculinity´ which give men preferential treatment. And much more.

These steps are clear — they require recognition of their importance in rectifying inequality and injustice. Then they require political will to create the needed changes. The report ends with lists of references, web—sites and other follow—up information for those who seriously pursue the issues discussed in Power and Privileges.

(Ministry of the Environment, Sweden, Website: www.sou.gov.se/mvb/)

Filed under Book Reviews, Gerd Johnsson—Latham