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Friday, July 19, 2024

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Honour nature, honour women!

If you are a male, you may be confused by the caption of this story. You might ask me, What’s women got to do with Nature? I would say, A lot. Let me explain.

Have you heard the term ecofeminism? It is a movement that sees a connection between the exploitation and degradation of the natural world and the subordination and oppression of women. It emerged in the mid-1970s alongside second-wave feminism and the green movement. Ecofeminism brought together elements of both these movements, while at the same time offering a challenge to both.


A protest rally against the gender discrimination

It takes from the green movement a concern about the impact of human activities on the non-human world and from feminism the view of nature as gendered in ways that exploit and oppress women.

Vandana Shiva- Indian physicist and environmental activist- makes it clear that one of the missions of ecofeminism is to redefine how societies look at productivity and activity of both women and nature that have mistakenly been deemed passive, allowing for them both to be abused and ill-used.

For example, she draws a picture of a stream in a forest. According to her, in our society it is perceived as unproductive if it is simply there, fulfilling the needs for water of women’s families and communities, until engineers come along and tinker with it, perhaps damming it and using it for generating hydropower.

The same is true of a forest unless it is planted with a monoculture plantation of a commercial species. A forest may very well be productive, protecting groundwater, creating oxygen, allowing villagers to harvest fruit, fuel, and craft materials, and creating a habitat for animals that are also a valuable resource.

However, for many, if it isn’t for export or contribution to GDP, without a dollar value attached, it cannot be seen as a productive resource.

There are many elements that need to go into an eco-feminist culture for a just and sustainable planet. First of all, we need to discover our actual reality as latecomers to the planet.

The world of nature, plants and animals existed billions of years before we came on the scene. Nature does not need us to rule over it, but runs itself very well and better without us. We are indeed the parasites on the food chain of life, consuming more and more, and putting too little back to restore and maintain the life system that supports us.

What we urgently need today is to recognize our utter dependence on the great life-producing matrix of the planet in order to learn to reintegrate our human systems of production, consumption and waste into the ecological patterns by which nature sustains life.

How should we begin? First of all, all sexist assumptions of the superiority of males over females and humans over animals and plants must be culturally discarded. But it is not enough simply to humbly acknowledge dependency. The pattern of male-female inter-dependency itself has to be reconstructed socially, creating more equitable sharing in the work and the fruits of work.

This means, not simply allowing women more access to public culture, but converting males to an equal share in the tasks of child-nurture and household maintenance.

Ecofeminists say, no more waiting’... Around the world, cultures and natural resources are plundered, so that 20 percent of the world’s population can continue to consume 80 percent of its resources in the name of progress.

We are in a state of emergency and let’s do something about it now...

The critical question of both justice and survival is how to pull back from the present disastrous course and remake our relations with each other and with the earth.

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