The nature of gender: work, gender and environment

Andrea Nightingale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gender has long been recognised as important within environmental issues, but there has been considerable debate over how to conceptualise the gender – environment nexus. As feminist theorising around women and gender has changed, so have conceptualisations about gender and environment, leading to a key debate within ecofeminism and related literatures about whether there is an essential or a contingent relationship between women and natural environments. Within geography, most political ecologists work with the assumption that the gender – environment nexus is a contingent relationship, and thus investigate how gender relations are salient in the symbolic and material construction of environmental issues. In this paper I seek to build from this work and again raise the issue of how gender is conceptualised in relation to environment. I begin by briefly reviewing some of the work that has been done on gender and environment and then draw from poststructural feminism to suggest that gender itself has been undertheorised in work on environment. Once gender is reconceptualised as a process, the dynamic relationship between gender, environment, and other aspects of social and cultural life can be brought into view. What emerges is the need for political ecologists to examine gender beyond the household and community and the need to reconceptualise the gender – environment nexus. A case study of community forestry in Nepal is used to illustrate the importance of interrogating the processes by which gender relations become salient and are reproduced symbolically and materially.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-185
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006

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