1895 h. "Mother". Joaquín Sorolla © Museo Sorolla-Fundación Sorolla


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Guaranteeing a healthy life and promoting wellbeing for people of all ages is the third SDO proposed by the UN for 2030. Health implies physical and emotional care, and the level of environmental management best represents the contribution of women to sustainability, given that it summarises transversally all the biocultural responsibilities they have had to take on: to produce life, feed it, look after it, protect it and heal it, as well as transmitting accumulated knowledge about health, environment and identity.

Women have managed the essential resources for health and sustainability –water, biodiversity and life itself- by looking after the family group and acting as empirical and autonomous healers until the 20th century, when western scientific medicine is developed and universalised. They still maintain these responsibilities in some populations, where they represent the main healthcare available to the poor.

The production of human life is a fundamental resource, produced and looked after by women, ensuring our permanence as a biological species and as a productive and social group. In countries with high-income levels, with a growing degree of gender equality, women continue using their time asymmetrically, and are the protagonists of childcare, care for the disabled and elderly, and care for themselves.

The transformation of ecosystems after the industrial revolution determined that companies and institutions took on the management of work linked to ecosystemic services. But neither of them –nor men as a collective- consider themselves to be primarily responsible for maintaining life and care. The task of caring (which guarantees attention to human needs), social reproduction and affection remain in the hands of women, be they female family or paid women, the latter generally being immigrants.

The industrial revolution marks the beginning of the rapid environmental change which typifies the modern era and which accelerated extraordinarily due to the more recent revolution in virtual technology, though there is debate as to which revolution marks the beginning of the Anthropocene –the current geological period which is characterised by the rapid impact of humans on sustainability, having already exceeded three of the nine established planetary limits.