Women in the Global South are impacted by environmental degradation byways of employment, harvesting food, providing steady income, clean water, and women themselves are put at an even greater risk. “90% of Asia’s rice is cultivated by women and 70% of subsistence crops in Ghana are produced by women”(Klusener 2019). Because of severe droughts, habitat destruction, monocropping, women are put at more risk of loss of employment in agriculture. These impacts not only prevent them from being able to provide for their families, but these environmental impacts can have drastic measures on the food supply for regions as well. This applies to the pollution of water as well, in many Global Southern countries it is the woman’s job to provide the household with clean usable water, to perform everyday activities, like bathing, cooking, hygiene, and drinking. Not only does environmental impact put a strain on the abundance of water, but sources are often controlled by private owners and companies. These owners are in control of many of the water supplies in these Southern countries, raising the price far to the height at which families can pay. This driving up of the water prices can be some of the highest percentages of people’s cost of living. The wells that supply the water are often spread far apart, away from villages, sometimes several miles, putting even more strain on women. Mothers, daughters, even pregnant women walking miles to a well for a resource that some consider a natural right. As water becomes more scarce girls often have to drop out of school just to help provide their families with the resources they need, hurting not only the women but the culture as a whole by taking away education.
I think both authors draw on the aspects that one, women play a major, often underappreciated role in every society. Despite being the main caregiver, manager of the household, birther, often raiser as well, women are often looked down upon or overlooked in many societies. Though in Warren and Hobgood-Oster’s reading you get a sense of the connection between humans (men) and degradation of nature, and man’s degradation and oppression of women as well. Western ecofeminism seems to see women and nature as being more connected to men and nature, focusing primarily on destructive ways in which society is built and operates. While Western feminism and ecofeminism may be more centric in the ideal held in western countries and beliefs, the western movement holds the idea of free speech and action very high. They use this to group many different categories of women together. The movement forgoes political and social issues for the opportunity to overcome patriarchal society converting it into a more diverse equal society. The other perspective difference may be from where the movement generates much of their power and ideas. In non-western ecofeminism, it if often poorer, rural women, who are drastically impacted by drastic changes in the environment. These women attempt to make the change not only their community but their country as well. But their perspective is different from the western view, which is often shaped by more highly educated, less at-risk individuals, some of which focus primarily on women’s rights and activation as a career.
Of these two perspectives, I personally see value in both. The task of equality, whether it is on the environmental front, or women’s suffrage front is a global issue that cannot be solved and implemented by one solely one group. It is up to academics to help keep the wheels of legislation, learning, and growth turning, helping forge the idea of a more balanced society. But it is also up to those living at the forefront of the at-risk third world, the changes and stands that these women make are on the world stage, their resilience inspires courage and shows that changes can and will be made. Each perspective aid the other in forming a better tomorrow and becoming remodels for those to become the driving force of the future.
Klusener, Edgar, et al. “Are Women in the Global South ‘Victims’ or ‘Saviours’ in the Face of Environmental Challenges?” Global Social Challenges, 2 Oct. 2019, sites.manchester.ac.uk/global-social-challenges/2018/04/19/923/.
2 Replies to “What is Ecofeminism? (cont’d)”
I really felt you hit the mark when describing the devastation as well as challenges faced by women and young girls in the Global South due to environmental degradation. Having the examples you spoke of along with each challenge faced by women really opened my eyes to the unfair, stressful life these women and girls are put through. It breaks my heart to know young girls must drop out of school to help provide for their families. It breaks my heart even more to know some of these girls and women turn to suicide as an option to escape the pressures they feel in their daily lives to provide for their families. Without clean water, some women might not even live through childbirth due to unsanitary conditions. All and all its just unfair. I like how you started your introduction to the differences in western and non-western perspectives of ecofeminism. I found that it was helpful that you included that Western Ecofeminism is led a lot by free speech and then mentioned how that’s the source of grouping women together. With free speech, I feel like a lot can be accomplished, but find myself wondering if these women are taken seriously? I believe they should be of course, but are they? I agree that within the two perspectives, there is a goal and values within how each side wants to accomplish this goal. The goal should be equality for women and equality for all. I do agree with you that one group alone is not enough to accomplish such a large goal of protecting the environment as well as providing equality for all. Ecofeminists inspire me in many ways no matter their perspectives on the subject. They are working to create a better world for me to live in, and for you to live in, and animals. I have to be grateful for that.
I really enjoyed your blog. I agree with your description of the women who tend to generate movement for the environment within Western and Non- Western societies. I believe the reason for the class difference between western and non-western ecofeminism is explain perfectly within Agarwal’s article. The author argues that class differences are often due to the fact that western ecofeminist view their suppression as being systematic (ideas, values, and beliefs) . As a result, I believe the western perspective tends to be seen as something harder to understand and mostly taught in colleges or universities, thus “more highly educated, less at-risk individuals.” On the other hand, the perspective in non-western countries (such as India) view the violence felt by women and nature as being linked to the materials provided within their environment. Therefore, seeing as impoverished women spend most of their days collecting water in order to provide for their family it makes sense that they would be pushing the movement forward. I believe western ecofeminist would be more successful in generating movement if they were able to relate this oppression better, as well as shedding light on non-western ecofeminist and the work they are doing.