UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women and environmental decision-making : A case study of the Squamish estuary management plan in British Columbia, Canada Avis, Wendy


An analysis of the literature on sustainability reveals that community decision making is an important component in the definition and implementation of sustainability. Although the importance of participation by all members of a community is stressed in the literature, analysis of marginalized groups focuses mainly on class and culture. When gender lines are explored, it is mostly within the context of the developing world. The purpose of this research was to examine the nature of women's participation in defining and implementing sustainability. This exploration had three objectives: to define effective public participation in the context of local level environmental decision making, to identify barriers to women inherent in public participation processes associated with environmental planning decisions and to make recommendations which eliminate barriers to women's participation in planning decisions. Barriers to women's participation were divided into three categories: institutional, community and societal. This research used a case study approach with multiple sources of evidence to examine these barriers. The public participation process involved in developing the Squamish Estuary Management Plan was analyzed to explore the nature and extent of women's participation. Research methods included document and newspaper coverage analysis, interviews and workshops. These revealed that specific barriers exist which discourage and prevent women from participating in planning decisions. At an institutional level, these included lack of trust, centralized decision-making, poor communication structures, an atmosphere that was not childfriendly and the failure to present the Plan in a way which was relevant to women's lives. Community barriers consisted of the fear of retaliation and the large number of community issues. Societal barriers identified were the devaluing of women's voices, level of income and the restrictions caused by women's societal roles. These barriers reduced the effectiveness of the public participation process. Results were used to develop a series of recommendations about how to encourage women's participation in decision-making, ensuring that women in communities are involved in shaping and defining sustainability.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.