What is meant by Eco-Feminism? Why is it so Important?


What is the meaning of Eco-Feminism?

Eco-feminism is a portmanteau word comprising of ‘Ecology’ and ‘Feminism’. It is essentially a branch of both the feminist ideology and political ecology- which is the relationship of society and politics with reference to environmental changes and issues and how they are intrinsically connected.

Eco-feminism is simply a philosophy that has been molded into a movement and ideology as well. Eco-feminism combines the ecological concerns and issues relating to the environment with those that concern women globally.

Also check out: The Nexus between Human Rights and Climate Change

Main Principles of Eco-Feminism:

The ideology basically stems from the fact that there are four main principles that co-relate to Climate Change. Those are: sexism, racism, class disparity/exploitation along with environmental destruction.

Check out: Environment Discrimination and the Importance of Environmental Justice

Eco-feminists believe that the root cause for both- damage and irreparable changes to the environment and the absence of rights and care given to women are both related to one thing: Patriarchy which means male dominance in society and essentially gives them the power to rule and control over everything in modern society and government.

The law makers and the policy makers in society are dominated by males and the root cause of the dire conditions of women and the ongoing destruction of the environment are to be blamed on this masculine dominance. Eco-feminists analyze and delve deeper into how and why this male dominance in positions of power and authority at the global stage has lead to the oppression, exploitation and devaluation of both women and nature.

In addition it also highlights how and why the typically ‘masculine’ trait of aggression and capitalism should be replaced with what is generally deemed as ‘feminine’ that is- care for nature and people. Eco-feminists believe in nurturing the environment and equitable distribution of resources to all instead of focusing on productivity, exploitation and profit generation.

Related: Environmental Justice: Ensuring Equity and Sustainability for All

Importance of Eco-Feminism:

The importance of this ideology stems from the centuries old conditions of poor women’s rights and the fact that none have been taken seriously as of yet. The two main and focal points of conversation in the world currently are of, Women’s rights, equality and combating Climate Change.

How they go hand in hand is explained by the fact that under the rule of men, women are generally not allowed to thrive either at home due to poor education and are more focused on domesticity despite the wishes of many to pursue other interests and in the workforce or public sphere they are demeaned for being a woman with various difficulties hampering them along the way.

Even at Hospitals many women do not receive appropriate health care such as anesthesia during surgery procedures, combine this with the racism that many women of color face by hearing things like how brown and black people have a higher pain tolerance due to the higher melanin levels than their white or lighter skinned counterparts (which is completely an unfounded claim).

Also check out: Covid-19 and Climate Change – Exposing Environmental Injustice 

Such prevailing sentiments as well as the fact that even in the work force there is a significant pay disparity between genders for the same type of job, claims being not taken seriously in a court of law or at the police etc. Such things have definitely made it harder for women to succeed and follow their aspirations due to lack of opportunities, obstacles and general sentiment in the public sphere. Moreover, it is important to mention that these are the concerns of privileged women in developed countries, and for the women who belong to the poor class or developing countries yet, these conditions are much worse because of the increased risk of diseases and domestic violence even.

Now when we combine this issue with that of environmental damage and the increasingly extreme events of climate change we can understand that again, due to the greed of men, the environment and its natural resources have been exploited beyond what they are capable of recovering or restoring.

Eco-feminism mainly also highlights and brings to attention the fact that globally, women are the one who are suffering more from environmental issues and face greater problem due to the lack of wealth and increased reliance of natural resources. Thus, both of these topics have one point in common and that is they are both being exploited and devalued by men in positions of power.

Eco-feminism also ties into environmental justice and oppression of people of color as they are more adversely affected by environmental issues and those belonging to the lower class. And perhaps the main crux of this theory is that because women are more adversely effected by these issues in the environment and generally as women, therefore they must be at the forefront of this movement and lead for a change.

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