Written by Hailee Settlemoir
As world leaders struggle to enact policies that allow for a more sustainable and eco-friendly planet, activists have adopted new ways to connect their passions for equality. One of these movements is ecofeminism. Ecofeminism is a social and philosophical movement that uses the principles of intersectional feminism, such as equality between all gender identities, to work against “barriers” that prevent us from having a healthy environment. These barriers can include discrimination based on race, sexuality, gender, religion, and more, as well as considering blockades such as capitalism, gender-based violence, overconsumption, and militarism. Ecofeminism, to put it simply, makes connections between the patriarchal oppression of women, specifically women of color and indigenous women, and the mistreatment of the environment in order to enact change in how our world treats women and nature.
The term “ecofeminism” was first used by French feminist Françoise d'Eaubonne in 1974, in her book Feminism or Death. In her work, she notes that the oppression and marginalization of women, people of color, and poor people are linked to the destruction of the environment under the dominance of men.
So, what’s the big deal with ecofeminism? According to ecofeminists, women are the best suited to protest the mistreatment of the environment. Since women have been fighting gender inequality and patriarchy for years, they are fit to lead a sustainable revolution. Ecofeminists believe that gender-based oppression and environmental harm come from the same mindset that racism, colorism, homophobia, and transphobia come from.
However, there are some disagreements in the community, as there tend to be any social or philosophical movement. Some ecofeminists argue that women are best suited to fight for environmental health due to the traditional image of women being caregivers or nurturers, as well as women being similarly exploited as nature has. Other ecofeminists, on the other hand, believe that viewing women as nothing but caregivers or sources of reproduction, that the state of women’s empowerment will never get better, and women will always be considered weak. Nevertheless, ecofeminists agree that the same system that has systematically oppressed them for centuries is the same system that has preyed on and destroyed the environment.
Overall, ecofeminism works to fight against every type of discrimination or domination that can exist, as well as the relationship between humans, nature, and nonhumans. This includes racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, colorism, religious discrimination, and environmental defilement. This is different from the traditional view of feminism, which largely focuses on gender roles and equality in a political sense. Since women are typically paid less than men, and women in the Global South often rely on nature for their basic needs, ecofeminists claim that climate change will affect women more so than men, and cause major displacement for women of color, lower-income women, and indigenous women.
Instead of living in a culture of domination and oppression, we should fight for a culture of care and equality and allow those who were most affected by the destruction of the environment to raise their voices and lead the movement.
Interested in ecofeminism? Here are some organizations that work all over the world:
- WECF International (Global)
- The Green Belt Movement (Kenya)
- Women’s Voices for the Earth (Montana, USA)
- Women’s Environmental Network (United Kingdom)