Intersections of Environmentalism & Feminism

Image Credit: TT News Agency / Anders Wikilundi via Reuters

According to the UN, 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. They are more likely to experience poverty, have less economic power than a man, and have more difficulty recovering from frequent natural disasters.

It seems as though there is a deep connection between issues affecting gender and the environment — they are interconnected.

Enter. Ecofeminism.

Standing for ecological feminism, ecofeminism can be understood as both a social movement and a philosophical theory. It is a branch of feminism that works to understand the connection between gender inequality and environmental inequity — how both these dominations stem from the same roots.

Ecofeminism, however, should not be confused with feminism. Ecofeminism not only looks at women but other marginalized groups (e.g. racial, ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities) and how they connect to the environment.

Image Credit: Down To Earth

Françoise d’Eaubonne, a French feminist, coined the term ecofeminism when she first included the word in her book, Feminism or Death (Le Féminisme ou la Mort), which explained how the fight for women’s rights and sustainability were interconnected. In publishing that book, d’Eaubonne pioneered a new generation of ecofeminists who have continued to stand up for the movement.

Wangari Maathai is a well-known ecofeminist who founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. She helped to raised awareness of the experiences of women in rural areas who dealt with a lack of water supplies from dried-up wells, food insecurity, and the long distances they had to walk in order to reach firewood (used for fuel).

Petra Kelly was a German activist and politician who stood up for her beliefs relating to the betterment of the environment and feminism. She was one of the co-founders of a Green Party in Germany.

Image Credit: German History in Documents and Images

Ecofeminism is a subsection of feminism that showcases how interconnected climate, environmental, and feminist issues are. As the environmental movement moves forward, understanding how feminist issues affect the environment (and vice versa) can help us create more equitable solutions. As popular British journalist and advocate for women’s issues Xue Xinran once said, “Everybody says women are like water. I think it’s because water is the source of life, and it adapts itself to its environment. Like women, water also gives of itself wherever it goes to nurture life.”

References & Resources to Learn More

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