Hands up if you're eco-conscious? 🙋♀️Keep your hand up if you also affiliate with the feminist agenda? 🙋♀️ Maybe you're an ecofeminist?
What is ecofeminism in a nutshell?
Ok, so here's the hard part, it's a bit tricky to define as it's not just one movement but a collection of movements, concepts and ideas. Bustle writer JR Thorpe condenses it down for us; "Basically, ecofeminism sees a relationship between the serious environmental damage done to the earth and the repression of women. But that one relationship can take many forms, depending on what kind of ecofeminist you are."
Where did ecofeminism sprout from?
The term was first coined by French feminist, Francois d'Eaubonne in the 1970s, developed in-line with the growing anti-nuclear movement in the US challenging the power hierarchies. During the same time period women in India mobilised to protect the Uttarakhand forest land. The Chipko Movement became one of the biggest environmental movements in Indian history.
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“In the early 1970s, when industrial giants attempted to spread their tentacles into the forest lands of Uttarakhand (then Uttar Pradesh), they were met with one of the biggest environmental movements in Indian history. The Chipko Movement started off under the leadership of Gaura Devi, a middle-aged Bhotia woman, who managed to mobilise about 30 women of her village to step out of their homes and protect the green cover of their lands with their lives. Challenging the men to shoot them down before touching the trees, they forced them to retreat. The movement was soon acknowledged by the government of India, and they forced the company to withdraw from the region.” #ecofeminism
The first ecofeminist conference took place in New York in 1980. In '93 Dr Vandana Shiva together with Maria Mies published 'Ecofeminism':
"Our aim is to go beyond this narrow perspective [patriarchy and hierarchies] and to express our diversity and, in different ways, address the inherent inequalities in world structures which permit the North to dominate the South, men to dominate women, and the frenetic plunder of ever more resources for ever more unequally distributed economic gain to dominate nature."
Is the movement applicable in 2018?
There's plenty of academic literature out there that defines the radical ecofeminist from the cultural ecofeminist and different eco-feminist theories as well as healthy critiques of the movement. Thorpe concludes holistically:
"Whatever your interpretation, ecofeminism is a unique feminist lens on the very real relationship between gender and environmental issues. Damage to the environment is definitely a feminist issue; it desperately needs the involvement of empowered, educated women to succeed in protecting communities and stopping further serious degradation."
Here at Hara, we're more interested in ideas and concepts that can lead us to meaningful action and for us 'ecofeminism' is a practical and holistic lens to look at the climate crisis we face. From theory to the practical here are three resources for the newly initiated; for your ears, your eyes and a starting point for more action.
A podcast: Mothers of Invention
A lively radio series with the tagline, 'climate change is a man-made problem with a feminist solution' ✊🔥. Hosted by the former Irish Prime Minister and climate justice stalwart, Mary Robinson and Irish comedian Maeve Higgins. Together they explore climate change from a variety of angles; public health, food security, courts of law, divesting and plastic! What's great about this podcast is the chemistry between the two women; Maeve plays the role of climate-activist newbie asking the 'silly questions' (there are no silly questions) and keeps it grounded while Mary brings her decades of experience to share. Mothers of Invention are interviewed and celebrated throughout the series and it's a great springboard to learn about other global movements being spearheaded by women.
Dive into the first episode now:
A video: Eco-grief and eco-feminism
A TEDx talk from Heidi Hunter, academic and writer, starts from her personal story of family cancer to eco-grief and drawing inspiration from eco-feminists in history. We'd not heard of the term eco-grief until now and Heidi encourages not to turn away from the climate headlines, or news of another species extinction or natural disaster - can we let ourselves feel that eco-grief? Can allowing us to feel that grief motivate us to more meaningful actions?