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Women and the environment

In the early 1960s, an interest in women and their connection with the environment was sparked, largely by a book written by Esther Boserup entitled Womans Role in Economic Development. Starting in the 1980s, policy makers and governments became more mindful of the connection between the environment and gender issues. Changes began to be made regarding natural resource and environmental management with the specific role of women in mind. According to the World Bank in 1991, "Women play an essential role in the management of natural resources, including soil, water, forests and energy.and often have a profound traditional and contemporary knowledge of the natural world around them". Whereas women were previously neglected or ignored, there was increasing attention paid to the impact of women on the natural environment and, in return, the effects the environment has on the health and well-being of women. The gender-environment relations have valuable ramifications in regard to the understanding of nature between men and women, the management and distribution of resources and responsibilities and the day-to-day life and well being of people.


1.1. Womens connection with the environment Women, environment and development WED debate

Different discourses have shaped the way that sustainable development is approached, and as time goes on women have become more integrated in shaping these ideas. The definition of sustainable development is highly debated itself, but is defined by Highcourt as a way to "establish equity between generations" and to take into account "social, economic, and environmental needs to conserve non-renewable resources" and decrease the amount of waste produced by industrialization. The first discourse that emerged in relation to women was Women in Development WID, the perspective that advocated for womens status to be improved in developing countries which then transformed into Women, Environment, and Development WED. Critiques for WID included its place in a larger western mindset, perpetuating a colonial and liberal discourse that was not compatible with supporting the global population of women. WID placed women as central actors in household, rural and market economies and looked to the hierarchical institution of western development to fix the issues that arise because of this.

The next shift in discourse took place in the early 1970s, where people began to critique the roots of development and start to look at alternative ways to go about interacting with the global community and developing countries, with women and the environment as central actors. This was defined as Women, Environment, Development WED. According to Schultz et al., "The women, environment and development debate WED-debate is anchored in a critical view of development policies where the link between modernization/industrialization and technology on the one hand and environmental deterioration on the other is focused". WED discourse is centralized around the synthesis of different ideologies, one of which being ecofeminism. Ecofeminism may be seen as a root ideology for WED, whereas women are viewed with a biological connection to nature that enables them to have a deeper connection and stewardship of it. This ideology was transformed into the political sphere where it took a new shape as women having a socially constructed connection to nature through our global systems.

Programs started in the 1990s based on the WED discourse and were instituted by the United Nations International Research Training Institute for the Advancement of Women INSTRAW. These programs were in response to the relation between gender and environmental violences such as waste disposal, pesticide use nuclear testing and other detrimental environmental practices.

The outcome of many of these programs did not produce the desired impacts on women. The WED discourse placed emphasis on women as solution holders to environmental issues but policies were not directed at empowering women, rather the sectors that women are involved in, such as agriculture. Leach argues that the overall impact of politicizing the role of women and the environment through the WED discourse appropriated womens labor without providing proper resources or capacity to succeed.


1.2. Womens connection with the environment Farming and agriculture

In a majority of the world, women are responsible for farm work and related domestic food production. An increasing number of women are taking over and expanding their involvement in agricultural tasks but this has not changed the gender division of labor with regard to reproductive work. Esther Boserup looked into the farming systems of men and women in Africa and found that "in many African tribes, nearly all the tasks connected with food production continue to be left to women". Schultz et al. 2001, found that "90% of women in the developing world, where most of the planets biological wealth is found, depend on their land for survival. Women head 30% of the households in developing countries, 80% of food production in sub-Saharan Africa is done by women, 60% in Asia and 50% in Latin America. Even though women are largely responsible for the actual agricultural work performed, men, generally own the land, therefore controlling womens labor upon the land.


1.3. Womens connection with the environment Africa

Esther Boserup examined the farming systems of men and women in Africa and found that "in many African tribes, nearly all the tasks connected with food production continue to be left to women". In Botswana, men typically have greater access to advanced technologies and plowing abilities. Zambia also has a high percentage of women farmers yet they are not explicitly recognize and often neglected entirely. Consistent lack of access to credit, mobility, technological advancements, land ownership further complicate womens agricultural roles. A group of women in Kenya began farming trees way before climate change was prioritized because they had seen what happens to lands that are depleted of its nutrients and the adverse effects.


1.4. Womens connection with the environment Latin American and Caribbean

In Peru, women often participate in food production and family farming yet they do not generally benefit directly from their labor. Their work is not considered as valuable as mens. Women in the Caribbean have always been associated with agriculture and do have access to land ownership. However, women still do not have the same access to technology as men and generally have smaller plots of land.

The dependence on nature and the environment for survival is common among Third World women. It has been argued by environmental feminists that this dependence creates a deeply rooted connection between women and their surroundings. The dependency women have on natural resources, based on their responsibilities, creates a specific interest that may be different from the interests of men. Jiggins et al. suggests that the views women have on nature are unique in that they connect the land to immediate survival and concern for future generations rather than simply looking at the land as a resource with monetary value. With the development of newer technologies since the 1940s, there has been a shift to more non-farm activities, however, men more than women are the ones participating in the shift, leaving women behind. It has been projected that the continuation of men shifting to urban livelihoods, more and more women will be depended on to maintain the household by farming. Especially during the neoliberal policy regime in Latin America, with the increasing use of exports, women were ideal for their gendered skills,’ they were paid less for their farming labor and not likely to organize, coining the term feminization of responsibility.’ Issues such as climate change could have a greater impact on women because the land they farm will be negatively affected.


1.5. Womens connection with the environment Asia and Pacific Islands

In the Asian and Pacific Island regions, 58% of women involved in the economy are found in the agriculture sector. This involves work in own-account farms, labor in small enterprises for processing fruits, vegetables and fish, paid and unpaid work on other peoples land, and collecting forest products. Out of all the women working in this sector, 10–20% have been found to have tenure to the land they work on. Reasons for this number include economic and legal barriers. For example, in terms of loans women are found to get fewer and less loans to acquire land then men.

One other factor that plays into womens land rights for agriculture is the cultural norms of the area. In the Asian and the Pacific womens societal rolls have been defined by patriarchal norms of the larger global society, where men are viewed as breadwinners and women are viewed as caretakers. This can be expressed through the number of hours women spend doing unpaid care work per day. In developing countries in total, women spend 4 hours and 30 minutes of care work a day versus the 1 hour and 2 minutes that men spend.


1.6. Womens connection with the environment Land ownership and property management

In many parts of the world, specifically developing countries, there is a great deal of inequality when it comes to land ownership. Traditional practices and bureaucratic factors often prevent womens access to natural resource development and management. Frequently, women do not have the right to own land and/or property, but they often are the ones who tend to the land. Bina Agarwal, has written a great deal about gender land rights in Third World countries and according to her, "Hence, insofar as there is a gender and class-based division of labor and distribution of property and power, gender and class structure peoples interactions with nature and so structure the effects of environmental change on people and their responses to it." Womens access to control of natural resources, land ownership and property management is a developing issue and is the subject of continuous debate in both the environmental realm and womens rights movement.


1.7. Womens connection with the environment Womens property status and the likelihood of violence

"World wide, physical violence by husbands against wives is estimated to range between 10% and 50% p824". It is difficult to pinpoint the causes of marital violence but economic dependence is widely acknowledged as one of the main sources. Land or property ownership provides women who may be experiencing marital violence with a credible exit option. Land ownership creates a means of production of both income and power. A study performed in Kerala, India examined the effects of property status and the likelihood of violence against women. Close to 500 women were surveyed about a number of happenings in the household such as the amount of longterm and current violence that occurred, womens ownership of the land or house, and other sociodemographic characteristics. The violence that occurs can be physical, such as hitting or kicking or psychological, such as threats or belittlement. Long-term violence, or violence that had been occurring throughout the entirety of the marriage, was experienced by 41% of women in rural households, while 27% of urban household women reported violence in various forms. Current violence, or violence occurring within 12 months of the time of survey was experienced by 29% in a physical capacity and 49% experienced psychological violence.

Of all the women surveyed, 35% did not own any property and of that 35%, 49% experienced physical violence while 84% experienced psychological violence. The amount of violence was significantly lower in households where women owned land or property. According to this particular study, womens access to land and property ownership reduces the risk of spousal abuse by enhancing the livelihood of women as well as providing an escape route and means for survival if abuse begins. In many developing countries, where marital violence is prominent, barriers such as unequal laws and social and administrative bias keep women from owning land and property. A vast number of women are left out of owning immovable property land or house furthering their likelihood of experiencing marital violence. Chowdhry. It can also be argued that land rights greatly shape an individuals relationship with nature and the environment.


1.8. Womens connection with the environment Relationship between violence of nature and women

The WED debate has examined the correlation between the degradation of the environment and the subordination of women. Carolyn Merchant and Vandana Shiva wrote that there is a connection between dominance of women and dominance of nature. Shiva said, "The rupture within nature and between man and nature, and its associated transformation from a life-force that sustains to an exploitable resource characterizes the Cartesian view which has displaced more ecological world-views and created a development paradigm which cripples nature and woman simultaneously". Exploitation of womens labor as well as the abuse of natural environment are connected as they are both marginalized within the economy. Both the environment and women have been viewed as exploitable resources that are significantly undervalued. This argument supports ecofeminism in that women in developing countries rely on nature to survive, therefore, destruction of the environment results in elimination of womens method to survival. According to Jiggins, environmental degradation effects women the most, furthering the inequalities between men and women. One study showed that new developments in technology and developments in land access are denied to women, furthering their subordination and inequality.


2.1. Theoretical perspectives Ecofeminism

Ecofeminism postulates that the subordination, oppression, and/or domination of both women and the environment are similar in structure. Ecofeminism encompasses a variety of views but has a focus of patriarchal oppression and the social constructions relating to women and the environment. Some indicate the biology of women as the reason behind the connection between women and environment, while others credit culture and historical factors. This closeness, as understood by some theorists, makes women more nurturing and caring towards their environment. An ecofeminist believes in a direct connection between oppression of nature and the subordination of women. Vandana Shiva, is credited with bringing ecofeminism into public consciousness by her reports of the Chipko movement. The Chipko movement also led to the formation of anti alcoholism.


2.2. Theoretical perspectives Environmental or ecological feminism

Environmental or ecological feminism differs from ecofeminism in that it is more focused on the actual, specific interactions with the environment. Connections between environment and gender can be made by looking at the gender division of labor and environmental roles rather than an inherent connection with nature. The gender division of labor requires a more nurturing and caring role for women, therefore that caring nature places women closer with the environment. The knowledge of nature is shaped by the experiences an individual has. Women have a distinct knowledge of the land, yet are excluded from policy decisions of development on that land. This is prominent in many developing countries where the responsibility of collecting fuel and fodder is placed upon the women. Both the resources and the meanings are taken into consideration with environmental feminism. There is a challenge to not only focus on the gender division of labor but also the actual appropriation methods of the resources. In other words, there is not simply an inherent connection between women and nature, rather there are material realities that exist. Bina Agarwal opposes ecofeminism and outlines three problematic elements which are:

  • Historical characterization of the situation of women and nature
  • Assumptions about womens agency
  • Linking of the emancipation of women with that of nature


2.3. Theoretical perspectives Criticism

Bina Agarwal has critiqued the ideas of environmental feminism. She proposes problems with welfare, efficiency, and source of land.

  • Welfare

Due to gender differences in income-spending patterns, women are at a higher risk of living in poverty. For this reason, access to land is of special importance. Land access allows for a number of production advantages such as growing trees, fodder and/or crops. But, land access also allows for increased credit, bargaining power and strengthens aggregate real wages rates. Even the smallest amount of land can have huge impacts on welfare directly as well as increasing entitlement to family welfare.

  • Efficiency
  • Bargaining power and empowerment effect: Providing women with the opportunity to own land will increase their sense of empowerment and could help women to assert themselves more in various situations such as policy creation other government schemes.
  • Credit and input access effect: "Titles would enhance womens ability to raise production by improving their access to agricultural credit, as well as by increasing womens independent access to output, savings and cash flow for reinvestment".
  • Gender specific knowledge and talent pool effect: Many women have specific and often greater knowledge about certain crops and planting patterns. If women are included as farm managers, a more diverse and talented informed pool will be created.
  • Efficiency of resource use effect: Studies have shown the possibility that women use resources more efficiently than men. This could mean anything from making a more productive use of loans of money earned to the ability of women to achieve higher values of output based on cropping patterns.
  • Incentive effect: If women are given secure land rights, there will be a greater incentive for higher production rates. Women will be motivated to use the best technologies, increase cultivation, and make long-term investments. Environmentally sound use of the land resource and reduced out-migration to cities by women and their dependents are other benefits of womens secure land rights.
  • Source of land

Because public land available for distribution is now quite limited, most of the land will need to come from private sectors. "To get a share of land, therefore, it is critical for women to stake a claim in privatised land".


2.4. Theoretical perspectives Feminist political ecology

Feminist political ecology builds from ecofeminism and environmental feminism and lays out three essential factors which are:

  • Gendered politics and grassroots activism, including an examination of women within and as leaders of environmental movements.
  • Gendered environmental rights and responsibilities, including differential access by men and women to various legal and de facto claims to land and resources.
  • Gendered knowledge, or the ways in which access to scientific and ecological knowledge is structured by gender this is considered part of gender feminism

Feminist political ecology seeks to discover the role and place of women in environmental development on a political scale.


3.1. In developed nations Sweden

Sweden has historically had a political culture that inherently protects the environment. Sweden is one of the highest-ranking countries when assessing gender equality, but the government does agree there is room for improvement. Women in Sweden have been empowered to protect the environment through the government and policies, a lot like other developed nations. In Sweden, the majority of local government workers are women at 64% and since the 2010 election, 45% of Swedish parliament is made up of women. The government has recognized that women are the most affected by climate change and environmental degradation. Through this recognition they have committed to contribute to increasing the participation for women in decisions and policy debates surrounding climate change and other environmental issues. They also have committed to increasing resources for women in civil society who present issues about the environment, hoping to increase accountability and transparency. Peterson and Merchant draw on the idea that the womens environmental movement in Sweden was based on both symbolic and political perspectives. In the early stages of the environmental movement and womens movement in Sweden, women were very aware that changes had to be made both within society and ideologies, then enacted politically to create a cohesive collective society.

Elin Wagner 1882–1949 presented herself as a radical feminist in early movements. She was a writer, journalist, environmentalist, ecologist and pacifist. She was a large inspiration for the environmental and feminist movements. She saw a large flaw in the popular ideology after World War II: that men had the ability to control and conserve nature for the entire global community or all of mankind. With a place in both politics and writing, she was inspired to write her novel, Alarm Clock. Her novel was barely noticed when released in 1941, but during Swedens womens movement in the 1970s, her messages became a driving force behind the movement. She believed that there should be a large presence of intellectuals in social movements. Wagner and other key Swedish feminist scholars and intellectuals of that time shaped the parameters of Swedish thinking and both the environmental and womens movements. Throughout her life, Wagner stressed the importance of nature and the environment, an idea we see through the identity of Sweden.

Sweden has it ingrained in both their identity and traditions to have a deep sense of nature, which has played a huge role in shaping the overall consensus of the country to protect the environment, especially for women. Through the transformation of the opinion and ideologies of the Swedish people, it became much easier to entrench environmental policies. Women working within institutions protected the global environment by pushing for bans on nuclear energy or industry degrading local environment. In 1980, there was a national referendum on nuclear power in Sweden. The voting patterns revealed that 43% of women were against nuclear power, while only 21% of men opposed it. Sweden and the women of the country have demonstrated that environmental protection can be achieved through transitioning ideologies followed by institutional change.


3.2. In developed nations United States

Womens involvement in environmental movements of the United States can be traced back to the early 20th century when women of upper and middle-class backgrounds became active in urban organizations advocating for reform in environmental issues such as sanitation, smoke and noise abatement, civic cleanliness and purity in food and drugs. Female activists of this period included Alice Hamilton, Jane Addams, and Ellen Swallow Richards who brought to the forefront issues of pollution, urban degradation and health hazards. Rose Schneiderman, a labor activist, advocated for the cleanup of hazardous work environments during this period as well. During the eras of World War I, the Great Depression and World War II the United States saw a period of inactivity on environmental issues. It was not until 1962, with the publication of Silent Spring, written by Rachel Carson, denouncing the U.S. governments use of pesticidesand the nations increase in industrial waste, that women in the United States returned to environmental issues. The book is considered one of the seminal pieces of environmental works written. The 1970s found women actively engaging in environmental issues. W.A.R.N. Women of All Red Nations was formed by Native American women to combat the environmental and health effects of uranium mining on native lands. Lesbian women formed communal spaces, returning to living on the land, recycling materials, using solar power and growing organic foods in their efforts to combat industrial pollution and degradation of natural resources.

The 1980s was an important decade for women in the environment. In 1980 the term ecofeminism was born with two important events taking place. In April, 1980 the conference, "Women and Life on Earth: Ecofeminism in the 1980s" was held in Amherst, MA, the first in a series of conferences on ecofeminism. In November, 1980 the Womens Pentagon Action took place in Washington D.C. when the group, "Women and Life on Earth" gathered to protest war, militarism, nuclear weapons and the effects on the environment. At its core, ecofeminism recognizes the link between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature. The liberation of women and nature are linked and it is towards this end that ecofeminists work towards. Inherent to this concept is sexism. Australian ecofeminist Ariel Kay Salleh was an early critic of deep ecologists of this time claiming that most of its spokespersons were male and therefore were afraid to confront the naturism and sexism causing environmental crises. Carol Adams furthered this ideology with her work The Sexual Politics of Meat i n which she established the link between sexual objectification of women to the consumption of animals as objects of food. Environmental issues continued to dominate womens activism work in the 1980s with the publication of Judith Plants book, Healing the Wounds the Promise of Ecofeminism in 1989, the first North American anthology of ecofeminsim. Also of importance, in June 1989, the Ecofeminist Caucus of the National Womens Studies Association was formed. The second half of the decade saw the emergence of American socialist ecofeminists, Karen Warren and Carolyn Merchant. Warren s work was instrumental in defining the four core principles of ecofeminism; the connections between women and nature, the need for the understanding of those connections, that feminist theory and perspective must include ecological perspectives and that ecological solutions must come from a feminist perspective. Socialist ecofeminists are concerned with issues impacting the environment resulting from the intersection of oppression by race, class or gender. Specific issues addressed by Socialist ecofeminists are colonialism, multinational corporate development of the South, global distribution of wealth, overpopulation and the critique of biotechnology.

Since the 1990s the United States has seen women continuing to foster their concerns of the environment. The decade saw the growth of the Environmental Justice movement beginning with Lois Gibbs, who formed the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, helping community organizations battle toxic waste issues and others. The Principles of Environmental Justice were adopted at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. on October 24–27, 1991. In a series of seventeen mandates, the principles call for public policies guaranteeing the right to responsible uses of renewable resources and land, creating a sustainable planet for all living beings. Feminists involved in current ecological movements continue the examination of the intersectionality of race, class and gender in humans experiences within their environments and the examination of perceptions and how values of the connection between humans and the environment are shaped by gender roles and assumptions. Other topics of concern include structures of power at the political and economic institutional level that are instrumental in the ecological movement, particularly the interdependence between oppression and domination. Todays environmental feminists scholarship focuses upon transnational, post-structuralist and postcolonial deconstructions.

During the 2000s women in the environment have turned their focus to another aspect of the environmental justice movement, that of gender justice. Gender justice differs from ecofeminism in that this perspective argues that women are affected by the environment in gender-specific ways as opposed to the focus on the connection between the oppression of women and nature. Gender disparities for women include the increase of environmental burdens due to their involvement in womens work of care taking and lack of access to resources due to lower incomes or poverty. Women are more likely to make food sacrifices for their family, and are more impacted by climate change, which impacts at a greater risk those that are already environmentally disadvantaged. Women are at greater risk during natural disasters, and subjected to increased levels of male violence in the wake of these disasters. Overall, women are less likely to be able to avoid or adapt to environmental degradation. The response to these gender inequities has been an increase in activism by women of color. In a marked difference from mainstream environmentalists, women of color, primarily Native American and Hispanic, are driving political change using grassroots organizations in a desire to address the gender specific differences of environmental effects. Gender justice activists also seek to empower their communities and preserve their cultural traditions in addition to preserving the environment. Following these principles, environmental leaders such as activist Julia Butterfly Hill, founder of the Circle of Life Foundation, and Native American activist Winona LaDuke Anishinabe, founder of Indigenous Womens Network, are continuing womens participation in the environmental gender justice movement in the United States today.

Women have had a longstanding impact on the environment in the United States, with efforts being shaped by larger feminist movements. In the early 20th century womens involvement in the ecological movements grew out of the Social Feminist work that occurred in between the First and Second Waves of the feminism. Ecofeminism stems from the Second Wave of Radical Feminism that was prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s. Environmental Justice and Gender Justice arose from the feminist move towards intersectionality of race, class and gender in the 1990s. As feminists continue to examine these issues, the environment and womens roles pertaining to it will continue to be topics of concern.


4. Womens attitude and the environment

The deep connection between women and men comes from the daily interaction between them. In recent decades, environmental movements have increased as the movements for womens rights have also increased. Todays union of nature preservation with womens rights and liberation has stemmed from invasion of their rights in the past.

In developing areas of the world, women are considered the primary users of natural resources, because they are the ones who are responsible for gathering food, fuel, and fodder. Although in these countries, women mostly cant own the land and farms outright, they are the ones who spend most of their time working on the farms to feed the household. Shouldering this responsibility leads them to learn more about soil, plants, and trees and not misuse them. Although, technological inputs increase male involvement with land, many of them leave the farm to go to cities to find jobs; so women become increasingly responsible for an increasing portion of farm tasks. These rural women tend to have a closer relationship with land and other natural resources, which promotes a new culture of respectful use and preservation of natural resources and the environment, ensuring that the following generations can meet their needs. Besides considering how to achieve appropriate agricultural production and human nutrition, women want to secure access to the land. Womens perspectives and values for the environment are somewhat different from mens. Women give greater priority to protection of and improving the capacity of nature, maintaining farming lands, and caring for nature and environments future. Repeated studies have shown that women have a stake in environment, and this stake is reflected in the degree to which they care about natural resources. Ecofeminism refers to womens and feminist perspectives on the environment – where the domination and exploitation of women, of poorly resourced peoples and of nature is at the heart of the ecofeminist movement.


5. Climate change and women

One of the biggest drivers of climate change is population growth. The worlds population has been set to reach 10 billion by the end of the 21st century, putting a strain on resources such as water supplies, food, energy and people, needing almost 40% more food, 40% more water and 50% more energy. Projections for the future are based on data from past years, such as 1950–1960 when the developing worlds population started to double, increasing from three billion to over six billion by 2000. Niger is projected to go from 15 million to 80 million by 2050, alongside Afghanistan anticipated to go from 30 million to 82 million. This population growth coupled with consumption and waste will have large effects on ecosystems and communities. With an increase in population, there is also projection for an increase in emissions, effects of industrialization, contributing to climate change. Some may argue that the third world is not responsible for the brunt of climate change, considering that the first world is using more resources, which is questionably more impactful on climate change than the population of the developing world.

Population growth is influenced by womens education. Education of women with information and access to birth control are key factors that influence population. Education for women leads to few children, has been seen to improve health and reduce mortality, affecting the global population outlook. In addition, according to Wolfgang, there is literature and research surrounding the idea that education leads to better health and income, changing thinking and attitudes around jobs with an emphasis on social and economic opportunities instead of family size. The idea of using education, as a means of controlling population in developing countries is questioned with the discourse around third world’ women requiring intervention’ and excessively reproducing.

With access for women to family planning, education and socio-economic development,’ working hand-in-hand to increase awareness, and accessibility. Many countries and organizations have begun a discussion around this topic, such as the United Nations conference on population and development in Cairo, discussing the holistic’ approaches to reproductive health, as well as the American Academy of Sciences and Royal Society of London in New Delhi. The second Millennium development goal, is to achieve" universal primary education” explaining this as a voluntary limitation of family size is going to help improve the disparity of education between genders and thus lower population as a result. U. S. Agency for International Development USAID is starting to implement development goals associated with population focusing on the youth, in terms of education, child survival, access to contraception and reproductive information and activities that can provide monetary reward. Along with USAID, The Centre dEtudes et de Recherche sur la Population pour le Developpment CERPOD, a Sahelian intergovernmental population research center is another governmental group that has incorporated new population research of communities and individuals that will influence policy and implementation.

Many of the environmental effects of climate change have disproportionately placed women in more vulnerable circumstances. Environmental occurrences that affect the activities women are found to be mainly responsible for in developing countries include increase in storm frequency and intensity, increase in floods, droughts, and fires. The Indian Governments National Action Plan on Climate Change said "The impacts of climate change could prove particularly severe for women. With climate change there would be increasing scarcity of water, reductions in yields of forest biomass, and increased risks to human health with children, women and the elderly in a household becoming the most vulnerable.special attention should be paid to the aspects of gender." For example, in the Pacific Islands and coastal areas of Asia women are strongly engaged in subsistence fishing as well as collection of food in local habitats. These habitats, such as mangroves, seagrass beds, and lagoons are all being negatively influenced by a changing climate, creating barriers in the direct work of women which then ripple out to their community.

The subsequent response to the connection between women and climate change has evoked multiple responses in the policy realm. Policy makers have shifted policy to reflect gender sensitive frameworks to address climate change. Arora-Jonsson argues that by focusing on the vulnerability of women in relation to climate change, it places more responsibility on women and shifts the narrative to ignore the root causes of the issue, power relations and institutional inequality. The outcome of UN movements and policies for promoting women in areas impacted by climate change such as agriculture have not been scientifically proven to have any beneficial results on women communities.


6. Gender and perception of the environment

Given the environmental degradation caused while men have had dominance over women, and womens large investment in environmental sustainability, some have theorized that women would protect the Earth better than men if in power. Although there is no evidence for this hypothesis, recent movements have shown that women are more sensitive to the earth and its problems. They have created a special value system about environmental issues. Peoples approaches to environmental issues may depend on their relationship with nature. Both women and nature have been considered as subordinates entities by men throughout history, which conveys a close affiliation between them.

Historically, the perception of the natural environment between men and women differs. As an example, rural Indian women collect the dead branches which are cut by storm for fuel wood to use rather than cutting the live trees. Since African, Asian, and Latin American women use the land to produce food for their family, they acquire the knowledge of the land/soil conditions, water, and other environmental features. Any changes in the environment on these areas, like deforestation, have the most effect on women of that area, and cause them to suffer until they can cope with these changes. One of the good examples would be the Nepali women whose grandmothers had to climb to the mountain to be able to bring in wood and fodder.

An example of female prominence in the defense of natural forests comes from India in 1906. As forest clearing was expanding conflict between loggers and government and peasant communities increased. To thwart resistance to the forest clearing, the men were diverted from their villages to a fictional payment compensation site and loggers were sent to the forests. The women left in the villages, however, protested by physically hugging themselves to the trees to prevent their being cut down, giving rise to what is now called the Chipko movement, an environmentalist movement initiated by these Indian women which also is where the term tree-huggers originated. This conflict started because men wanted to cut the trees to use them for industrial purposes while women wanted to keep them since it was their food resource and deforestation was a survival matter for local people.

Gender-based commitments and movements such as feminism have reached to a new approach through the combination of feminism and environmentalism called Ecofeminism. Ecofeminists believe on the interconnection between the domination of women and nature. According to ecofeminism the superior power treats all subordinates the same. So, ecofeminism takes into account women subordination and nature degradation. Remarking all these different reactions, one can see that however, most policy decision makers are men.


7.1. Women environmentalists Mei Ng

Mei Ng was born in Hong Kong, China and she received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972 and has worked diligently to promote environmental awareness throughout China. Mei Ng is an advocate of responsible consumption, renewable energy utilization, and sustainable development through the women and youth of China, and works to mobilize women to defend the environment and to bring environmental education to all parts of China. She previously held the position of Director for Friends of the Earth HK in Hong Kong, an environmental organization which seeks to encourage environmental protection in China. In 2001, she was appointed to the Advisory Council on the Environment. In 2002, Mei Ng was elected to the United Nations Global 500 Roll of Honor on World Environment Day. Also in 2002, she was appointed by the Chinese State Environmental Protection Agency as China Environment Envoy. In 2003, the Hong Kong SAR Government awarded her the Bronze Bauhinia Star, and in 2004, she was appointed to become a member of the Harbour Enhancement Committee. She founded the Earth Station, Hong Kongs first renewable energy education center, which has been well received by policy makers and citizens alike.


7.2. Women environmentalists Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva was born on November 5, 1952, in India. Vandana Shiva has a B.S. in Physics, a M.A. in philosophy from the University of Guelph Ontario, Canada and received her Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in Quantum Theory Physics. Vandana Shiva is an environmental scholar and activist who campaigns for women in India as well as around the world. As a physicist-environmentalist adhering to ecofeminism, Vandana Shiva has published numerous papers on the unequal burden placed on women by environmental degradation, stating that women and children "bore the costs but were excluded from the benefits" of development. Vandana Shiva is also an active voice for localized, organic agriculture. She began a movement entitled Navdanya where participating Indian farmers have created freedom zones to revitalize an organic food market in India. She has received many honorary degrees awards. In 1993 she received the Right Livelihood Award. In 2010 Sydney Peace Prize and in 2011 she received the Calgary Peace Prize. In addition, Vandana Shiva was named "one of the 7 most influential women in the world" by Forbes.


7.3. Women environmentalists Wangari Muta Maathai

In 1940 Wangari Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya. She attended Mount St. Scholastica College in Kansas and received her degree in biological sciences in 1964. This was a part of the 1960 Kennedy Airlift which brought 300 Kenyans including Barack Obamas father Barack Obama, Sr. to the United States to study at American universities. She then obtained her M.S. from University of Pittsburgh in 1966 and her Ph.D. from the University of Nairobi. She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. Wangari Maathai was an advocate for human rights, preaching the necessity for democracy. Her passion for environmental conservation lead her to found the Greenbelt Movement in 1977. Wangari Maathais personal life was turbulent with divorce and jailings, as well as constant confrontations with the Kenyan government. Her push to protect national land from development made her less than favorable to Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, who served from 1978 to 2002. In 2004, Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize, making her the first African woman to win. On September 25, 2011 Wangari Maathai died of ovarian cancer. BBC World News noted this as a Death of Visionary.


7.4. Women environmentalists Maria Cherkasova

Maria Cherkasova b. 1938 is a Russian journalist, ecologist, and director of Centre for Independent Ecological Programmers CIEP. She is known for coordinating a 4-year campaign to stop construction of hydro-electric dam on the Katun River. After Cherkasovas involvement in the student movement on environmental protection in the 1960s, she began to work for the Red Data Book for the Department of Environmental Protection Institute. She researched and preserved rare species until she became the editor of USSR Red Data Book. She co-founded the Socio-Ecological Union, which has become the largest ecological NGO in the former Soviet Union. In 1990, she became director of CIEP, which arrange and drives activities in an extensive range of ecologically related areas on both domestic and international fronts. Cherkasova recently has shifted her focus on protecting childrens rights to live in a healthy environment and speaks for them both inside and outside Russia.


7.5. Women environmentalists Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson 1907–1964 was an American scientist, writer, and ecologist. Rachel Carson went to the Pennsylvania College for Women, majoring in English, but she was inspired by her biology teacher so she switched her major to biology. She became more interested and focused on the sea while she was working at the Marine Biological Laboratories in Massachusetts. Her eloquent prose let to the publication of her first book, Under the Sea-Wind: a Naturalists Picture of Ocean Life, in 1941. In 1949 she became chief editor of the Fish and Wildlife Service FWS. Her second book, The Sea Around Us, won the National Book Award and sold more than 200.000 copies. After that she retired from FWS and became a full-time writer. After her third and final book about the sea, The Edge of the Sea, Carson focused on effects of chemicals and pesticides on the environment. That is when she wrote her book about environment, Silent Spring. The book was about what man has done to the nature and eventually to himself, and started a modern environmental movement. Carson believed that humanity and nature are mutually dependent on each other. She argued that industrial activities such as pesticides use can damages the earth ecosystem and will have far-reaching ecological consequences such as future human health problems. Today, scientific studies have demonstrated these consequences.


7.6. Women environmentalists Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall b. 1934 is a female environmentalist most well known for her chimpanzee study, in which she lived among the primates. She became interested in animals as a young child and spent her early adulthood saving money to fund her dream of taking a trip to Africa. Her position as secretary to Louis Leakey led to her participation in several anthropological digs and animal studies, and eventually she was selected to study chimpanzee behavior in Tanzania. She made several discoveries about the behavior of chimpanzees on these studies and is credited with discovering the chimpanzee behavior of eating meet and creating tools. She published a book about the study entitled In the Shadow of Man. She is also known for her activism, promoting the preservation of wild chimpanzee environments and opposing the use of animals in research. She has received numerous awards for her achievements and owns the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation, a nonprofit organization.


8.1. Ecological movements initiated by women Chipko movement

One of the first environmentalist movement which was inspired by women was the Chipko movement Women tree-huggers in India. "Its name comes from a Hindi word meaning "to stick" as in glue. The movement was an act of defiance against the state governments permission given to a corporation for commercial logging. Women of the villages resisted, embracing trees to prevent their felling to safeguard their lifestyles which were dependent on the forests. Deforestation could qualitatively alter the lives of all village residents but it was the women who agitated for saving the forests. Organized by a non-governmental organization that Chandi Prasad Bhatt led, the Chipko movement adopted the slogan "ecology is permanent economy". The women embracing the trees did not tag their action as feminist activism; however, as a movement that demonstrated resistance against oppression, it had all the markings of such."

It began when Maharajah of Jodhpur wanted to build a new palace in Rajasthan, which is Indias Himalayan foothills. While the axemen were cutting the trees, martyr Amrita Devi hugged one of the trees. This is because in Jodhpur, each child had a tree that could talk to it. The axmen ignored Devi, and after taking her off the tree, cut it down. Her daughters are environmentalists like Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Sunderlal Bahuguna.


8.2. Ecological movements initiated by women Green Belt movement

Another movement, which is one of the biggest in women and environmental history, is the Green Belt movement. Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai founded this movement on the World Environment Day in June 1977. The starting ceremony was very simple: a few women planted seven trees in Maathais backyard. By 2005, 30 million trees had been planted by participants in the Green Belt movement on public and private lands. The Green Belt movement aims to bring environmental restoration along with societys economic growth. This movement led by Maathai focused on restoration of Kenyas rapidly diminishing forests as well as empowering the rural women through environmental preservation, with a special emphasis on planting indigenous trees.


8.3. Ecological movements initiated by women Navdanya Movement

Navdanya also known as the Nine Seeds Movement seeks to empower local Indian farmers to move away from growing any genetically modified organism GMOs on their land and return to organic, chemical-free practices. This movement has reached over 5.000.000 Indian farmers and created over 65 seed banks around India. Navdanya fights to eliminate the commercialization of indigenous knowledge also known as Biopiracy. Navdanya addresses multiple other international issues including climate change, food security, misapplication of technology, food sovereignty, fair trade, and many others. This movement also created a learning center entitled Bija Vidyapeeth. Bija Vidyapeeth, in collaboration with Schumacher College in the United Kingdom, seeks to educate participants in sustainability and ecological principles.


8.4. Ecological movements initiated by women Kenyan land takeover

In Kenya, starting in the mid-1980s, women protested against the elites and big foreign corporations who were coercing and controlling the production of the land. Rather than allowing food to be grown for survival, women were pressured by both their husbands and the government to cultivate coffee for foreign profit. Protests continued and gained strength over the next couple of decades. The protests eventually ended in a Kenyan power shift enforcing democratic national elections which resulted in redistribution of land possible.


8.5. Ecological movements initiated by women NoDAPL Movement

The NoDAPL movement was an opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Dakota Access Pipeline is 1.172 miles long, traveling from North to South Dakota and has the capability of transporting thousands of barrels of oil. The pipeline runs under Lake Oahe, an important water source for the Standing Rock Reservation located near the projected site in South Dakota. In 2016 construction was set to begin but was soon halted by the opposition the project faced. The Standing Rock Reservation claimed that the construction of the pipeline was an environmental injustice and could lead to their water source becoming polluted if the pipeline was to burst. The reservation also claimed that the proposed site that was to be dug was sacred ground and contained buried ancestors. The United States Army Corps of Engineers, who were responsible for approving the permit needed to proceed with construction, claimed that proper assessments had been taken to ensure that it was environmentally and culturally safe to proceed with the completion of the pipeline. With the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continuing to move forward with construction the NoDAPL movement was created in April 2016 to try to halt construction of the pipeline in order to protect the Standing Rock Reservations water source and members. The movement grew historically large due to the threat of pollution and violence against women.

Although the NoDAPL movement was largely labeled as only an environmental justice movement, the NoDAPL movements concerns were also gendered. The gendered perspective of the NoDAPL movement was told in the documentary, Rise: Standing Rock. Many Standing Rock tribe members claimed that the construction of the pipeline would also lead to an increase of sexual violence against women and girls living on the reservation. Visiting tribe members from the Fort Berthold Reservation shared stories of the danger young girls now faced after the increase of fracking in their community. A Fort Berthold tribe member described how oil workers would pick up young girls walking home within the reservation and kidnap them to be sold amongst the workers for sex. According to the book, The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America, Indigenous women are more likely to experience sexual violence than any other ethnic groups. Although there are many factors that contribute to those high numbers in a 2013 article, Genevieve Le May stated that the increase of oil extraction sites and pipelines near reservations is a big contributing factor due to" man camps” built by reservations to house the oil workers. Le May also claims that it is hard for reservations to seek justice for sexual assaults due to lack of police interference. That is why the mobilization of Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women, in the NoDAPL movement was considered to be historical to some. The documentary also stated that the water from Lake Oahe was heavily used by women living on the reservation and was another factor for women involvement. Many female tribe members explained that the water coming out of their faucets was water from the lake. This means that any pollution to the lake would directly affect them and their families since they drink, bathe and cook with the water.

Because this pipeline directly affected their community, participants of the NoDAPL movement originated with the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock. The movement grew due to support of tribes across the nation, including many members that travelled to Standing Rock Reservation. Due to social media the NoDAPL movement was able to include thousands of supporters from all over the world. The NoDAPL movement included many protests at Standing Rock Reservation and confrontations with police and NoDAPL supporters all throughout 2016. During his last few months in office President Barack Obama responded to the protests by ceasing all construction of the pipeline. The halt of construction was short due to succeeding president, Donald Trump. During the first year of his administration, President Donald Trump ordered for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline which occurred in 2017.

In the article" Living In A Liminal Space: Standing Rock And Storytelling As A Tool Of Activism”, author Janelle Cronin states that one of the NoDAPL women leaders that needs recognition is LaDonna BraveBull Allard, a member of the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock. In 2016 Allard published a video on Facebook asking for the surrounding tribes to come and support Standing Rock in protesting the pipeline, sparking public interest in the NoDAPL movement. In response to people answering her call, Allard created Sacred Stone Camp, which housed protestors for the months that the NoDAPL movement took place. The VICELAND documentary Rise: Standing Rock showed that Allard provided the camp with food and anything else needed to keep the camp functioning, paying with donations given as well as out of her own pocket. Even though the pipeline has been completed, the Sacred Stone Camp remains. The camps official website claims that there is still a need to educate people about the importance of a sustainable lifestyle as well as a need to protect water due to threats that still exist globally. Another noticeable leader in the NoDAPL movement is Bobbi Jean Three Legs, another member of the Sioux Tribe. In her article, Mary Ferguson claims that Bobbi played an important role in keeping the nations attention on Standing Rock. Bobbie and other young tribe members organized a run that would take them from South Dakota to Washington, D.C. This run was created in order to hand deliver a petition asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny the construction of the pipeline through their water source. Bobbi claimed that she became involved with NoDAPL because of her concern for future generations living on the reservation and because she wanted to make sure that clean water would always be available for her daughter.

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