Online Program

Feminisms at work in public health: Women activists and environmental health

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 11:10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Stephanie St. Pierre, M Div, MPH, Community, Society and Health, CUNY School of Public Health, Tarrytown, NY
In the 1970's ordinary women, housewives and mothers, were driven by pain and need to became environmental activists; they insisted that their concerns be heard, their experience validated and their unique knowledge of the threats faced by their families and communities be accepted on a par with that of the scientific experts in industry and the academy. Throughout the world, women are more likely to be involved in environmental activism and take the lead role in raising awareness of critical threats to the health of their families and communities that result from polluted air, water and soil; for women in non-industrialized areas, these problems usually result in the direct contamination of the resources women depend upon to feed, clothe and shelter their families. I argue that feminist methodologies have consistently influenced public health practice. In particular, I explore how critical consciousness raising, standpoint theory and critical feminist interrogations of knowledge-making were essential to the emergence of women as environmental activists in the United States in the mid/late 20th Century. These women were instrumental in bringing to light public health hazards that were bubbling up through playgrounds and backyards and blowing in the wind making people sick, many of them children, all across America. Because they demanded to be heard, important social, political and economic changes occurred which to this day are essential to environmental health practices and the efforts of environmental activists.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the role of women as leaders in the field of environmental health.

Keyword(s): Environmental Justice, Women

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have made the study of feminist frameworks and women's contribution to public health leadership as part of my doctoral research. I have completed the certificate in Women's Studies at the Graduate Center and incorporate women's work in public health in my teaching. I worked for 4 years as a teaching assistant in environmental health in the School of Public Health at George Washington University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.