Women and the Environment by Anita Roddick (article)
Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism (book)
Ecofeminism (definition from Lexi's Lane)
Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature (book)
Women's Environment & Development Organization (organization)
n a global level, the environmental debate is about human and civil rights, social justice, equality, who has power, who does not... unsurprisingly, this holistic agenda is increasingly being set by women.
Women's rights are human rights. There is no distinction, though the fact that we even have to make one to express our concern or clarify our commitment is sufficient enough comment on the real status quo. Still, I believe that among the rapid changes the world is undergoing is a new appreciation of the worth of women and what they have to give. Grassroots women's organizations are springing up all over the world, in villages in Africa and India just as much as in North American metropolises, to address the problems that threaten the futures of millions, regardless of their gender.
It is no coincidence that women's rights win the spotlight as the global environmental crisis grows more urgent. If the dominant male values (aggressive, logical, hierarchical) come on strong as part of the problem, "feminine" values (compassionate, instinctive, interactive) suggest solutions.
Then there is the already-proven female efficiency at the grassroots level. Even in the UK, with its unimpressive record of female representation at the national level, the numbers of women elected to local authorities is growing. Voters tend to see them as non-traditional, action-oriented, more honest than men and more dedicated to basic human qualities.
Grassroots activism is the future of environmentalism and women make inspired activists. In their role as providers, they have the most instinctive appreciation of the realities of human existence and the causes and effects of human activities. In the UK, the Women's Environmental Network reports that young women joining feminist groups are increasingly interested in environmental and/or related animal rights issues. Women are playing a leading role in getting environmental issues lodged on political agendas.
This is giving rise to a movement that has come to be known as ecofeminism, which covers everything from the personal quest for a new kind of relationship with nature to the empowerment of women in the majority, or developing, world. And one strong ecofeminist focus is the issue of development. Women like Medha Paktar, who is leading the opposition to India's giant Sardar Sarovar dam project, and Wangari Maathai, leader of the Green Belt movement in Kenya, are ordinary citizens, which makes them particularly challenging to the politicians and planners. They are campaigning to be respected and taken account of in developers' big plans for the future, so their campaigns ring with a commonsensical truth that is irresistible to thousands of women like themselves.
And the fact is, once women find their voice on one issue, it is easier to use that voice to speak out on others. Environmental campaigning clarifies the way in which women's rights are rights for all. As Medha Paktar says, she is campaigning not only for women or the environment but so "the downtrodden can live with dignity."
HEALING THE WOUNDS
Because women have been the healers, nurturers and teachers of their loved ones, it seems appropriate (imperative) that we continue to awaken the offspring of the earth. There is an underlying partnership between every living thing; the environment is us. This beautiful collection of essays and poetry from women activists, writers and feminists who share this commitment, explores the link between women and nature in many cultures, exposes the abuses and prescribes ways of change. This is education for the uninformed and hope for the disheartened. ~ SH
Healing the Wounds
The Promise of Ecofeminism
Mariana Valverde,ed., 1989; 212 pp.
New Society Publishers
4527 Springfield Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19143
$14.95 per paperback, $17.95 (postpaid)
What survival now demands, in sum, is fast steps—fast giant steps—toward growing up. And a necessary condition for such growth is change in our uses of gender. This is a kind of change which most men, bound and blinded by cast privilege, tend to resist; although—and also because—it promises to deepen their humanity, to free them from warping constraints, they by and large fear it. So the task of initiating these fast steps—the task of mobilizing human life-love and starting to outgrow the species-specific mental birth defect of which our uses of gender are part and our assault on the ecosphere an expression; the task of focusing human energy on protection of the lifeweb for whose fate we humans have by now, willy-nilly, made ourselves responsible—is a task, at this point, which rests largely in female hands. What happens next may well depend on us.
(From: "Survival on Earth: The Meaning of Feminism" by Dorothy Dinnerstein)
Derived from the word lexicon, which means a dictionary or a collection of terms used for a particular profession or subject or genre, Lexi's Lanes appear randomly throughout The WomanSource Catalog within a chalkboard graphic. They define new or unfamiliar concepts or sometimes turn familiar or overused concepts on their head.
The belief that all oppressions—gender, race, class, sexuality, physical ability and nature—are equal and interconnected; hence, liberation of woman, nature, or any other oppressed group will not be accomplished if attempted individually.
Because ecofeminism struggles to reveal the complex interconnectedness of all living things with the natural environment, these essays were chosen from an assortment of viewpoints. Activists, feminists, ecologists and animal liberationists share their unique experiences, efforts and ideas about the relationships inherent in our world. This collection of original writings examines the historic norms of patriarchal concepts about humanity and illuminates a new perspective between humans and nature. Here is a glimpse at the contents featured—Roots; Rejoining Natural and Social History; For the Love of Nature: Ecology and the Cult of the Romantic; A Cross-cultural Critique of Ecofeminism; and Living: Interconnections with Animals and Nature. ~ SH
Women, Animals, Nature
Greta Gaard, ed., 1993; 329 pp.
Temple University Press
USB Building, Rm. 305, Oxford & Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19122
$19.95 per paperback, $23.45 (postpaid)
Society's increasing alienation from nature has left the idea of nature as fair game for romantic love. Increasing urbanization, suburbanization, and the demise of the family farm leave many of us with little direct participation in the organic cycles of planting and harvesting. Our relationship with the natural world is largely mediated by industries of production and consumption that shape our appetites, tastes, and desires. More and more, the nature we know is some market researcher's romantic idea of a "nature" he thinks we would be likely to buy. The less we know about "the rural life," the more we desire it. So many of us long wistfully for a life we have never lived, but hope to find someday on vacation in Vermont, or rumbling sweetly in a box of wholesome, grainy cereal.
WOMEN'S ENVIRONMENT & DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION
In 1991, WEDO assembled large numbers of women at the World Women's Congress for a Healthy Planet in Miami, where specific demands for women's active role in sustainability were mapped out and submitted. This later resulted in the inclusion of these stipulations in the Earth Summit's official Agenda 21. It was a turning point for our planet's health, and it created a major shift in vision for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). More attention is now paid toward the precious relationship between the position of women and the state of the natural environment thanks to Agenda 21, which ensures the strengthening of our role in the sustainable development of the planet. This is a perfect example of the power of women's groups. Members of WEDO work to enact necessary changes for the health of our environment. Its quest is to empower women and influence them to get involved with environmental, developmental and social decisions. Becoming a sustaining friend of WEDO will link you to an extensive database of women from around the world and encourage the sharing of ideas and information critical to inducing action. Its newsletter, News & Views, is also a part of this awareness. WEDO members are urged to begin a Women for a Healthy Planet group in their community to help illuminate the vision and, hopefully, reach beyond their neighborhoods. This organization is perhaps the most influential of its kind. With a powerful force behind you and a strong conviction of your own, the impossible will fade away. ~ SH
Women’s Environment & Development Organization
Susan Davis, Executive Director
845 Third Ave., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10022
[Order a Book] * [Table of Contents] * [Introduction] * [Sample Pages/Reviews]
[Future Projects/Links] * [Talk to Us/Share Resources]