(Washington, D.C.): Just as women changed the course of American history through their leadership in the abolitionist, prohibition, suffragist, public health, and civil rights movements, women have been critical to the development of environmental law and policy in the United States. Yet women’s contributions to environmental law and policy are often overlooked and misunderstood. Throughout the month of June, ELI will be taking a closer look at “Gender and the Environment” as we continue to offer special events, programs, and publications in commemoration of our 50th Anniversary.
As Lynn L. Bergeson (former ELI Board Member and owner and managing partner of Bergeson & Campbell PC) explains in an upcoming Vibrant Environment blog, gender equality and, more particularly, women’s empowerment are critical to achieving sustainable development across the globe. Yet research demonstrates that globally, environmental policies are not gender neutral. For example, women are often underrepresented in transboundary water management. ELI has been working with the Stockholm International Water Institute and the Women & Water Diplomacy Network to connect and provide capacity training for women working with transboundary water issues in the Nile basin.
Last year, through an initiative of ELI’s Leadership Council, ELI established “ELI WELL”, Women in Environmental Law & Leadership. ELI WELL strives to improve environmental, economic, and social progress by developing connections for ELI in communities throughout the United States, advancing women leadership in the field, and informing ELI’s programs as they relate to women’s issues. Today, ELI WELL will host “Women and Environmental Law Careers” to discuss the barriers women face in this field and how to overcome them. Co-sponsored by Beveridge & Diamond, the panelists—including environmental lawyers from private practice, government, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations—will share efforts by their organizations to promote women and explore ideas that attendees can take away and apply in their work to help increase the visibility, leadership, and impact of women in the field. On June 20, ELI WELL will host “The Leadership of Women in Developing U.S. Environmental Law and Policy: What They Did, What It Meant, and Where It Is Going.” This event, which will also be simulcast in various locations, will look at how women have shaped environmental law and policy in the United States, the impact of that work on women’s roles in the environmental field, what the experience meant for those who contributed, and what the future holds for environmental law and policy with women increasingly in leadership roles.
ELI traces its origins to a national conference on the emerging field of environmental law held at the Airlie House in Virginia in September 1969. Often described as a one-of-a kind environmental law think-and-do tank, ELI continues to effect change through its work as a premier environmental law educator, convener, publisher, and research engine as we enter our 50th year.
Be sure to visit https://www.eli.org/eli-50th-anniversary throughout the year for details and updates.