What is Ecofeminism?
As climate change ravages and threatens our habitats and planet, it has also prompted disproportionate effects on women compared to men worldwide. In the book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, Paul Hawken tells readers that the reduction of the gender gap in developing countries is one of the most important solutions to combating climate change.
Ecofeminism can be defined as the feminist movement that brings together elements of the feminist and green movements in order to challenge the exploitation and degradation of Mother Nature and the subordination and oppression of women.
This movement was started in the midst of the second wave of feminist movement and the ecology movement, in the 70s and 80s. This specific feminist ideology was first identified by French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne in her book, Le Féminisme ou la Mort (translated as Feminism or Death). d’Eaubonne argued that Western patriarchal oppression, exploitation, domination, and colonization had created detrimental and irreversible environmental damage to the planet.
One of the most jaw-dropping and popular ideologies created by ecofeminism was stated in Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva’s book, Ecofeminism. They stated that oppression of women through sexism and violence mirrors the way man oppresses nature through the destruction of ecosystems in order to make a profit off the exploitation of those resources.
Greta Gaard, ecofeminist scholar and documentary filmmaker, stated “Ecofeminism is a movement. It’s about a global community of feminists offering a more ecological way of seeing, thinking, interacting. It isn’t a show of scholarly stars.”
Just as the feminist movement has branches, ecofeminist thought can be broken down into different ideologies. Liberal or radical feminism focuses on the fight for environmental changes within legislation. Socialist or materialist ecofeminism utilizes a historical theory to understand how the patriarchy oppresses and profits off of women and the environment. Lastly, spiritual or cultural ecofeminism creates a nonviolent, compassionate mystical connection between nature and women through ancient rituals.
Why Should We Care About Ecofeminism?
Ecofeminism addresses a plethora of intersectional issues such as race, class, gender, nationalism, climate, sustainability, agriculture, education, housing, food security, indigenous rights, and more.
One example of an ecofeminist issue was outlined in the Sierra Club’s blog post on ecofeminism, written by Tanli Su. Su discussed the rise in women in agriculture, but the declining access to productive resources such as land, livestock, seeds, technology, labor, finances, and more. Su wrote “As stated in a 2011 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), closing the gender gap in agriculture would increase the productivity of female farmers by 20-30%. This is crucial because regenerative practices that allow for higher agricultural productivity also turn soil into a carbon storehouse, and higher agricultural productivity means less pressure to deforest land for farming. In other words, closing the gender gap in agriculture would not only help us feed our growing human population, but it would also increase carbon sequestration, reduce deforestation, and will, therefore, lessen our overall environmental impact significantly.”
How Can I Support the Ecofeminist Movement?
As with any movement, the first step to advocacy is through education. Educating yourself on ecofeminism and ecofeminist issues will change the way you interpret other readings and change the way you interact with the world.
Here are some great resources to learn more about ecofeminism:
- “What is Ecofeminism? The Connection Between Women and the Environment” by Laura Minton Gonzales
- “Ecofeminism” by Tanli Su
- Ecofeminism by Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva
Here are some great ecofeminist-approved organizations to support:
- Women’s Environment & Development Organization
- Sierra Club
- Silent Spring Institute
- Women’s Earth Alliance
- Women’s Voices for the Earth
The next step to take is to focus on living and leading a more sustainable lifestyle. Educate yourself on what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint or give back to the Earth. Also, make sure to celebrate Earth Day this year on April 22nd. Find different ways to give back on this day and throughout the year.
Lastly, spread awareness of ecofeminist issues. Tell your friends, peers, sorority sisters, and family about what is happening in our global community and how they can help promote change too.
Action starts with a desire for change from you.
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