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The B(Earth)place of our Grandmother and Mother’s

The resurgence of Eco-Feminism in Climate Action Movements and it’s relationship between disabled populations and women’s role as essential factors to sustainable and regenerative ecosystems.  


By Emily Csontos-Frost


According to Britannica.com, the term “eco-feminism” was first coined in 1974 by French Feminist Françoise d’Eaubonnne. Coming up with the waves of other movements witnessed during the 60’s and 70’s regarding human rights and civil rights towards change, such as queer movements and feminist movements, “Eco-feminism” uses the basic tenets; “of equality between genders, a revaluing of non-patriarchal or nonlinear structures and the world that respects organic processes holistic connections, and the merits of intuition and collaboration. To these notions ecofeminism adds both a commitment to the environment and an awareness of the associations made between women and nature. “This philosophy brings awareness to how both women and nature are treated within patriarchal society and how these gender categories are to demonstrate social norms that are unjust. Practitioners advocate that all life is sacred and valuable and emphasizes humans’ dependency on the natural world.  


Since then, “eco-feminism” and eco-feminist movements have branched off into various venues and institutions as essential pillars for change, especially when discussing climate and sustainable solutions. The exploitation association with capitalism is destroying the earth, we all know this now and solutions for climate change and disasters is a big concern for a lot of people. Is Eco-Feminist philosophy a viable solution for changing economic and social frameworks?  There has been criticism of the Eco-feminist movements as they tend to arise and promote equality in their own developed countries but fail to recognize their contributions to the degradation of less-developed countries. This accusation was based on those who participate in the movement who purchase from companies or as associated with sweatshop labor and poverty. Meaning although as a social and cultural movement, Eco-Feminism sounds nice it failed to recognize how its own members were further contributing to the exploitation and harm of at-risk, poor and vulnerable populations. How can we participate in these movements and continue to exist in this world without this contradiction of being stuck in a commercialized and industrial world and trying to move forward in harmony with the environment?  In recent years, we’ve heard this narrative come up in various platforms especially regarding marketing industries. There’s a lot of talk about it, but what’s anyone really doing to continue to prevent it from happening again? Is the investment going more into the campaign and marketing than the work and objective itself it claims to be advocating for? These critiques and questions we must ponder within ourselves and as a collective when planning future sustainable environmental projects. A balanced eco-system is a healthy eco-system, and we can see through the process of colonization and capitalist exploitation resulted in the exploitation and destruction of the Natural and physical world.  


However, as mother nature always finds a way, so does life and time and time again life has found a way to not only survive but thrive in the most devastating of circumstances. Women as the bearer of life, is thus central to rejuvenating and regenerating a sustainable eco-system both within her own natural world and the natural world around her. It is thus, the imposition of male-dominated ideologies and systems creating imbalance in her ecosystems.  


This position now, starting in 2020 has found it’s way to Indigenous climate-action movements internationally.  As many Indigenous cultures were and still are matrilineal, placing authority and council to clan mothers and grandmothers for social, cultural, and economic organization and structures. Eco-feminist philosophy emphasizes the needs and affects it’s had on Indigenous cultures and as such, is complimentary for building awareness and networks for these issues. It’s easy to understand a women or mother being essential to life. We’ve all had to come from one, so perhaps this worldview is easy to incorporate when we think of future policies and progress as incorporating women into this equation. But how do we incorporate disabled women?  


Are sick or different bodies still worth the investment if they don’t bear the same reflection of “health” and “life” often portrayed by these movements? Are we investing in the people and places most affected by these policies and are industries investing in a sustainable future for everyone to thrive or a future where life survives? Is society in its entirety inclusive of all bodies and contributions to “a healthy and sustainable” future? Or only those who can bear life or work to rejuvenate their ecosystems? Have we considered that perhaps all bodies are essential to a balanced ecosystem? These are questions we must ask ourselves as we consider how we use these terms and structures in shaping the future. Is there only room for the “natural” and if so, what/who will be deemed “un-natural” or “un-healthy” and how will this have consequences on the life that is already here. Do we not the need to take care and support the eco-systems and life already present as well as invest in a better future? If we can’t take care of the issues and people we have now, can we really commit to a sustainable and stable future? 


 As movements of advocating for Indigenous rights, Climate Rights, Disabled Rights resubmerge in the modern era and campaigns promote sustainable policy are at the forefront of political discussions, we must ask ourselves who we’re advocating for and excluding in the process and who really benefits from the fruits of the labor.  

 

Definition and concepts archived on Jan 3, 2024 from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/ecofeminism 

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