Integrate Strategies to Improve Environmental and Reproductive Justice

Reproductive justice recognizes the impact that environments—both our living and working environments—have on health and the importance of ensuring that women and their families live in healthy communities. The Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

The environmental justice and reproductive justice movements are particularly linked around toxics that impact pregnancy and fertility. Low-income women and children living in urban areas are disproportionately exposed to environmental toxics, many of which adversely impact overall health and reproductive, maternal, and child health in particular. The increasing attention on the effects of chemical exposures on health, as well as new efforts to “green” cities, provides a ripe opportunity to integrate environmental and reproductive justice education and advocacy strategies.

Through strategic collaborations between the reproductive and environmental justice movements, we move closer toward our shared goal that every woman be able to bear and raise healthy children and live in healthy communities.

Local Recommendations:

Local advocates can improve reproductive, maternal, and child health by reducing the burden of environmental contaminants in urban low-income communities and workplaces. Local officials often oversee urban infrastructure, including public transportation and housing, where a significant amount of exposure to toxics occurs. Building the social, political, and economic power of low-income women and women of color most affected by environmental toxics will be essential to promoting reproductive and environmental justice in these communities.
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© 2012 National Institute for Reproductive Health