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The Connection Between Environmentalism and Feminism

(eco) feminism

Women swimming and relaxing in a pond.

Have you ever heard of Ecofeminism? Ecofeminism is an ideology and movement that sees climate change, gender equality, and social injustice. These are all tied to masculine dominance in society.

Specifically, ecofeminism believes that most environmental issues are connected with the global prioritization of qualities. It is considered masculine and those in power manifest their attributes.

Earthrise, the media for climate change say, ecofeminism is to explore the connection between the oppression of women.

Ecofeminism is to defend the patriarchy to protect both the planet and society. They also mentioned that “Women’s equality should not be achieved at the expense of the environment, nor environmental improvement should be made at the expense of women.”

The history of ecofeminism

Ecofeminism was first launched in North American and European academic circles in the 1970s. It was an offshoot of the feminist movement. Specifically, it linked the fact of overcontrolling women to humanity’s cruel relationship with nature. It showed up to a better understanding. How patriarchal and the definitions of gender will explain humans’ dominating role in their relationship with the environment.

At the beginning of the 1980s, ecofeminism began to introduce itself as a feminist and environmental activist and movement. By the end of the 1990s, ecofeminism focused on the relationship between gender and nature. They left no place for consideration of other facts such as race and class.

Today, the value of ecofeminism has largely changed from activist and intellectual circles. However, the concept can still work. To understand why raising women can divide by achieving equal sustainability. By targetting and having such a measurable effect on easing environmental impacts.

Two significant women to know

Over the years, the view behind ecofeminism has been explored more and begun advocating. There are two prominent women, Vandana Shiva, founder of the research foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. And Carolyn Merchant, author of Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. These two women have been in this movement since the beginning.

Vandana Shiva, an Indian environmentalist, described women as safeguards of natural resources. “a role that leaves women especially vulnerable to natural disasters and environmental degradation perpetuated through capitalist markets.” Also, she mentioned that race-based and imperialist acts of domination as developments of historical oppositional dualisms.

The principles of ecofeminism are interwoven into the modern-day climate change movement. Especially those who actively advocate for equitable change for people and the environment.- What is Ecofeminism? Understanding the Intersection of Gender & the Environment

The connection between feminism and the environment

heal the planet, heal the people poster

In ecofeminism, there is a binary definition. Here, binary is to highlight humanity’s relationship with nature. Ecofeminism mentions that when humans try to develop naturally, the environment is seen as an obstacle to overcome. Also as a resource to explore. On the other hand, humans are seen as opposed to the prevention of nature.

Vandana Shiva says, “In Europe, young people, and in particular young women, stand up for the climate. We are attending the end of the capitalist patriarchy model.“

A study indicates that “80% of household shopping is done by women. Therefore, environmentally-related purchase behavior is left primarily in the hands of the female consumer.”

In particular, while there is a “green marketing” trend, environmentally-related consumption. Consumers would experience a more direct connection to the importance of consumption. It would consist of understanding every consumption. It is related to the environmental well-being of the planet. Ecofeminism would be the link to changing the current mindset that the environment is not that bad.

Environmental justice and intersectional environmentalism

Environmental justice is also known as intersectional environmentalism. It cites environmental issues directly related to society, such as pollution and food security.

Environmental justice is the intersection of both social justice and environmentalism, where the inequity in environmental degradation is also considered.

This movement means that gender is hardly specifically spotted as a key to understanding the climate crisis and the way to solve it. Even though empowering women is a substantive critical factor in reducing emissions and ensuring a more sustainable future.

“Ecofeminism is a part of intersectional environmentalism.

Social justice is also a part of environmental justice.

“Traditional distributive models of social justice have been the only way to think about questions of environmental justice.”- Environmental Justice: some economists worry about a distributive model

Both social justice and environmental justice work on power issues such as who causes pollution and who suffers from pollution. They focus on communities rather than individuals.

Traditional models of social justice are conceived as distributive: They distribute something such as rights, jobs, salaries according to some basis for distribution, either equal-opportunity basic such as human needs or non-equal bases such as merit, effort, contribution.

There is an example that raises issues of environmental justice. And it is associated with social justice.

For example, women and children of color in the South suffer the effects of environmental degradation. Women and children who do the water collection work in the South. They are people most of the time who risk their health. Each year, millions of people, mainly women, and children are affected by major illnesses. Women farmers grow at least 59% of the world’s food; in some places, such as Africa, nearly 80%. And still, gender division of labor gives women unequal access to their salaries.

So it is important for environmental philosophers to think seriously about the models of social justice and how to resolve them.

What is the connection between ecofeminism and intersectional environmentalism?

Women running through nature.

Ecofeminism and Intersectional Environmentalism both advocate for social and environmental justice. “Ecofeminism exposes the repression of women and the environment as interlinked and rooted in patriarchal structures.

So what is intersectionally? In 1989, it was founded by race and gender scholar and civil rights lawyer Kimberle Crenshaw. She pointed out how different identities can “intersect” to create specific challenges and privileges. Such as gender, citizenship status, class, race, etc. 

And there is environmental justice, which is a part of the social justice movement. And seeks to make certain that the success of the environmental movement will benefit everyone equally.

Intersectional Environmentalism was born from the impacting social and green movements. Such as Black Lives Matter and the youth climate strikes in 2019 and 2020. It is an inclusive version of environmentalism that defends the protection of people and the planet. And addresses how the injustices happening to ignored communities and the earth are interconnected.

Understanding environmental issues that affect different groups of marginalized people in unique ways can help us build a more sustainable and equitable world.

Both explore how the treatment of the earth exposes rooted social problems. While ecofeminism focuses on gender and sexuality, intersectional environmentalism makes space for all social injustices.

Social issues with the environment

It is important to understand how much social issues impact climate change.

We all need to understand that climate change does not affect people equitably. We need to realize the importance of climate legislation that encourages fair social-economic while dealing with the climate crisis. But how exactly are social issues, the environment, and women connected? And the answer is policymaking.

A study shows, women are alarmingly underrepresented in global environmental policymaking. Women hold only 12% of top national ministerial positions in environmental sectors worldwide.

Another research indicates that women who hold an elected office tend to prioritize resolving social issues that directly affect other women, families, and children.

A 2015 policy brief also says, that women are often in better positions to apply local knowledge to climate responses, and tend to prioritize preserving natural resources.

These studies show that women have been more invested in social issues. And women, especially in politics, have proven themselves to be more aware of environmental impacts.

There are more reports internationally. It indicates how women tend to prioritize environmental protection.

A 2014 Australian study claimed that women tend to consider environmentalism as a stronger part of their personal identity. A study from a US homeowner said women are conscious about the products they consume whether they are environmentally kind or not. Another study which has done between 1988 to 1998, said regardless of age or region, women have strong environmental behaviors.

Main principles of ecofeminism

Woman lying down with leaf covering her pelvis.

As we see, ecofeminism is an ideology for those climate change and gender equality topics.  There are some principles that they are focusing on. Here, we would like to look at a few of them.

One is to replace our culture of domination with ethical care.

Professor and ecofeminist scholar Heidi Hutner, Ph.D., said “Carolyn Merchant basically says ecofeminism is calling for an ethic of care. And an ethic where decisions are made equitably,” She also said, “When we poison the Earth, we are poisoned. And it all comes from this history of patriarchal domination. Where whoever holds the most power has the right to dominate, control, and exploit everyone else.”

Ecofeminism defends rebuilding the masculine system of domination. And exploitation and replacing it with ethical care. To approach morality that is grounded in feminine characteristics and nurturing.

The second is that all forms of oppression are unacceptable.

For ecofeminism, it has to consider all people, no matter what their gender and race, LGBTQ+.

Katharine Wilkinson, author and vice president of Project Drawdown, said, “If you are a person, a community, a family, or even a country that’s already facing many threats. Whether that’s around health, inequity, climate change layers on and makes all of those threats more intense.” She added, “especially women and girls of color in a patriarchal society.”

A study shows almost half of the heat-related deaths in New York from 2000 to 2012 were among Black people and communities of color. They breathe 38% more polluted air than white people. But those facts are often left out of society, and not considered with environmental improvements.

Wilkinson also mentioned that “Part of the reason we need intersectionality is that white environmentalism, like white feminism, just doesn’t work. It’s not effective. We need compassion, connection, creativity, collaboration,”

Understanding the connection the human relationship with the environment

It is an important step for equitable change. To have a real positive impact on both sides, ecofeminism is to understand its links to social issues. Wilkinson said that it is a very critical fact that we understand the feminist dynamics around climate impacts. Because we need to see the strategies and approaches through adaption that respond to those inequities.

The oppression of marginalized groups and nature are connected for a reason

Patriarchal dominance has led to the degradation of nature. Along with the marginalization of groups, such as women, children, and people of color. Capitalism pushed this oppression as it places value on productivity.

Women and Environment

Women floating in a pond.

While environmental justice defines how climate change affects people, the relationship between the environment and gender can throw light on the solution to their issues. And it should be addressed by policymakers. Understanding their relationship will support the potential environmental solutions that can arise by promoting women.

Granting women equitable access to critical services can improve their economies and the efficiency of their economy. Elevating women to participate in environmental policymaking will also allow a more determined political voice.

Ecofeminism can help acknowledge how social issues and the environment are connected. And how one side’s solutions can influence positive results in the other. It will ensure sustainability and understanding of the relationship between the environment and humanity.

Where social inequalities and climate change intersect is often where the most impactful resolutions and policy measures can be found.

Read more:

Anthropology: Traditional Ecological Indigenous Knowledge, Scientific Studies, and their Convergence

Decoding Origins of Patriarchy and Feminism

One thought on “The Connection Between Environmentalism and Feminism

  1. Wow, this is really interesting. Thank you for writing this post on ecofeminism. I will have to check out some of Vandana Shiva’s writing now.

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