Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. 

However, the term may be unfamiliar to many. In essence, ecofeminism is the idea that the oppression of women and the exploitation of our planet’s natural resources are inextricably linked. The movement originated in the 1970s alongside the rise of second-wave feminism and environmental activism. Today, people are increasingly waking up to the fact that different forms of oppression are all linked to one another and ecofeminism is a great example of this intersectional way of thinking. 

There are many fascinating women who have pioneered this movement and continue to do so. The mother of the movement is French feminist Francoise d’Eaubonne who coined the term ‘ecofeminism’ in her 1974 book Le féminisme ou la mort (Feminism or Death) in which she encourages women to take climate action. 

Another vocal ecofeminist is Anika Rahman, a lawyer and human rights activist who views her fight for reproductive rights and her environmental advocacy as being part of the same thread. She is currently Chief Board Relations Officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founded the Center for Reproductive Rights and was President as CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. 

Today, Vandana Shiva is possibly the ecofeminist who has gained most notoriety. She was featured in 2015 documentary ‘The True Cost’ which delves into the devastating effects of fast fashion, both on women and the environment. She has also co-authored a book titled Ecofeminism with feminist scholar Maria Mies, which is a fascinating look into the relationships between capitalism, the oppression of women and the ecological degradation. 

There are two main schools of thought regarding ecofeminism: radical feminism and cultural or spiritual ecofeminism. Radical ecofeminism asserts that oppression is perpetuated by patriarchal structures which must be deconstructed if an egalitarian society is to be achieved. It believes that the patriarchy see both women and nature as “wild,” and therefore wishes to have control over them. This is a bit like the feminist idea of “gender as a construct”, which holds that connotations of gender are completely made up ideas used to subjugate women. 

Cultural or spiritual ecofeminism, on the other hand, embraces the idea that women are connected to nature. It asserts that power can be derived from aspects of womanhood such as child-bearing and menstruation which (according to them) make women closer to nature. This view is often criticised by radical ecofeminists who say that this is a trivial comparison and only serves to oppress women further.

However, more important than ecofeminist theory are the concrete issues it aims to tackle. In spite of conflicting views within the movement, there are core ideas that all ecofeminists share, the most important being the belief that women suffer most from the depletion of the planet’s natural resources. 

For example in many Third World countries, such as Ethiopia and Bangladesh, it is women who are in charge of managing natural resources in the home including collecting drinking water and firewood. When natural disasters such as drought (in the case of Ethiopia) or floods (in the case of Bangladesh) occur, women have to work harder to find these resources. This often means that girls will leave school to help their mothers. In some cases, they may completely take over responsibility for the home so their mothers can go out to work and compensate for the impacts of crop destruction on their income. This is just one of the many ways in which women suffer from environmental degradation.

Regardless of your school of feminism, the reality is that women are suffering as a result of the depletion of our planet’s natural resources. It is high time that the systems which harm both women and our planet be interrogated and – eventually – deconstructed entirely.


Photo by Cintia Barenho on Flickr


Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

Sexism wins gold at the 2020 Olympic Games

Gymnast Suni Lee amazed the world when she won the all-around gold medal with lash extensions and a set of acrylic nails applied. The fact that she completed a gold-medal routine without even so much as breaking a nail is insanely impressive in itself, but we must think critically about the society we live in, in which a world class athlete felt it necessary to compete with these additional obstacles in the name of appealing to the unattainable beauty standard expected of women.

Portraying women in the media

So why does one-dimensional coverage of women in media matter? Newspapers and magazines inform people’s views and opinions. It affects how we as society see women unconsciously. When the media furthers the perception of women as sex objects, that has knock-on consequences throughout society.

Empowering women through female rap music

The recent increase in the popularity of female rap through platforms such as Tiktok has led listeners to view the music as both empowering and progressive. However, many still argue that the sexual and arguably aggressive lyrics of women in the industry further perpetuate the misogynistic connotations of hip-hop. Regardless of the stance that one may take on the topic, it seems as though there is an undeniable depth to our beloved hot girl summer anthems.

How domestic abuse scares its victims into silence

“I became a Zumba instructor. I travelled half of Europe with my kids. My daughters are free to live without a verbally and physically abusive father. All I can say is that I am grateful to Ireland and the people who supported me through that difficult time.”

The power of small

It is undeniable that sexual assault and rape are seriously pressing and important global issues. However, in the search for solutions, we tend to jump to the biggest problem solver – how can the law be reformed to better protect victims? Sometimes though, smaller actions can have a very worthwhile and instrumental effect.

We need to do better if we are to protect girls

The real conversation lies in asking ourselves why altering our appearance has become so normalised and readily-available as a cosmetic service. When and why did our natural faces with textured skin and varied features become undesirable and “ugly”?

Share This