To better understand the concepts of ecofeminism and environmental ethics, we must first realise that climate change is not only an environmental issue, but also a political and social issue. These concepts take on greater importance in the face of the current climate crisis and are more relevant than ever when we realise that the root causes (capitalism, patriarchy, etc.) of climate change are also at the origin of profound injustices.
Women – already a vulnerable group in society – will become even more so as a result of climate change. In its 2020 report Evicted by Climate Change, the international solidarity association CARE highlights the fact that in developing countries, women are particularly impacted: they are the ones providing support and supplies of food, water, and fuel for their families. As climate change exacerbates supplies, their job and duties become increasingly harder. There is no doubt that women are, and will continue to be in the future, extremely vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis and environmental degradation.
The latest IPCC report has confirmed the responsibility of human activities in climate change, as well as the need to drastically change our ways of producing and consuming in order to achieve a decarbonised economy. The people responsible for this environmental damage should be equally responsible to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment for present and future generations. Environmental ethics – in accordance with Jonas’ perception of this concept – is perfectly in line with in terms of logic as it advocates profound changes in the economic sphere at the level of modes of production and consumption. These are the only way that would allow us to preserve our environment and not compromise the resources this offers us and upon which humans rely.
Women have a key role in making this intergenerational equity a reality. “We women have been the forerunners for generations and leaders in environmental conservation. Our traditional knowledge, know-how and skills are needed more than ever to build resilience to climate impacts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, said Khadidjath Zimé Arouna – a young woman beneficiary of the Green Amazones Program. Indeed, women are at the forefront of their communities when it comes to finding effective and sustainable solutions to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis on their own as well as their families’ wellbeing.
Ecofeminism is a current of environmental ethics that has been gaining momentum in recent years due to the climate crisis. It puts the question of gender relations and domination in the approach to environmental protection at the centre of its thinking. This current, which believes that there is a link between the exploitation of nature and that of women, advocates principles such as equity (equitable distribution of benefits and burdens), “nothing for us without us” (those closest to the problem are closest to the solutions), and collective access (our movements must be flexible and nuanced in the way we engage with each other). These principles point us to the essence of climate justice, which according to the Mary Robinson Foundation “links human rights and development to achieve a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its impacts in an equitable and just manner”. Thus, it can be argued that promoting ecofeminism is therefore promoting climate justice.
Policies, democratic institutions, and major organisations at the international level, which are essential to achieving climate justice, must therefore better take into account women’s experiences, invest in women leaders and activists who are at the forefront of the ecofeminist movement, and create an enabling environment for them to freely express their thoughts and opinions.
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