Ecofeminism in the Twenty-First Century. by Susan Buckingham Introduction Since 'ecofeminism' was developed as a concept in the 1970s (1), there have been, arguably, major policy shifts in the fields of gender (in)equality and environmental sustainability. Thus a consideration of the achievements of, and work outstanding for, ecological feminism is warranted. In this paper, I will assess the changing policy landscape to explore the extent to which this has structurally altered gender inequalities and societies' treatment of the environment, and the imbrication of these two processes. In order to do so, I will look at the rising profile of gender mainstreaming at the international, European Union (2) and European national level; the application of the 'feminism' debate to environmental concerns; and the shifting of the 'radical edge' of ecofeminism, to explore future possible trajectories (see, for example, Plumwood 2003; Seager 2003). To some extent, I will suggest that the transformation of policy and development rhetoric to include gender, as distinct from women's issues (itself, arguably, a 'post-feminist' dilution of women's equality), masks a fundamental attachment to 'business-as-usual', where social roles, pay differentials, political representation and environmental degradation remain little changed. However, there is, I argue, sufficient evidence to identify the influence of ecofeminist thinking on major policy initiatives concerning the relationship between women, men and environment at a variety of scales. The central question of this paper, then, is whether ecofeminism (as a distinct discourse, or as an amalgam of feminism and environmentalism constructed in different times and places in different ways) has changed the way in which Western society articulates the relationship between men, women and the environment. This, of course, is a problematic and speculative exercise and will follow from an analysis of how discourse and practice themselves have changed. This paper will consider key changes to gender equality as it is linked to environmental sustainability, and explore how women's/feminists' interests have helped to shape the environmental debate in the past decade. I will try to unpick dominant discourses which, on the one hand, are beginning to 'naturalize' (some would say neutralize) environmental concerns (where the terms sustainable development and environmental sustainability are common currency but poorly understood to the point of being anodyne), but on the other hand are marginalizing feminism, to examine the impact of this on 'ecofeminism'. Finally, I will explore the territory of ecofeminism's leading/radical edge to speculate on where this may take both conceptual understanding and policy in the future. First, however, to put this discussion into context, I will briefly review ecofeminist arguments to illustrate their range, before focusing on the constructivist approach, which has had the most traction in gender/environment debates in the last two decades. Ecofeminist approaches It is tempting to use a retrospective to try to impose some sort of order on past intellectual activity, and what I am attempting to do first in this article is to explore whether there is an intellectual trajectory, through a not necessarily coherent body of thinking and writing on gender and environment in the late twentieth century. In teasing out the possible relationship between women's position, gender relations, feminism, and the way in which Western society is seeking to control or manage the environment, ecofeminist writers in the 1970s and 1980s explored the relative importance of essentialism and social construction in these relationships. The social constructivist analyses (which tended to dominate French and British writing; see, for example, Mellor 1992) drew from the Marxist and social feminist literature to show how women's position in society (as, for example, carers of children and other vulnerable...
References: Agyeman J, Bullard R D and Evans B 2003 Just sustainabilities, development in an unequal world Earthscan/MIT Press, London Barber S, Carroll V, Mawle A and Nugent C 1997 'Gender 21, women and sustainable development ' Paper prepared by the Gender 21 Round Table, UNED-UK, London Bhattar G 2001 Of geese and ganders: mainstreaming gender in the context of sustainable human development Journal of Gender Studies 10 1 Biehl J 1991 Rethinking ecofeminist politics South End Books, Boston, MA Bradshaw J, Finch N, Kemp P A, Mayhew E and Williams J 2003 Gender and poverty in Britain Equal Opportunities Commission, Manchester Buckingham S, Reeves D, The Women 's Environmental Network, Batchelor A and Colucas S 2004 Research into gender differentiated impacts of municipal waste planning in the European Union Final report to the CEC Directorate General Environment, Brussels Carter N 2001 The politics of the environment Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Dahlerup D 1988 From a small to a large minority: women in Scandinavian politics Scandinavian Political Studies 11 4 Daly M 1978 Gyn/ecology: the metaethics of radical feminism Women 's Press, London Dankleman I and Davidson J 1988 Women and environment in the Third World, alliance for the future Earthscan, London European Union 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam OJ C 340, 10 November Fordham M 2003 Gender, disaster and development: the necessity for integration in Pelling M ed Natural disasters and development in a globalizing world Routledge, London Gibbs L 1998 Love canal, the story continues New Society Press, Gabriola Island, BC Mellor M 1992 Breaking the boundaries, towards a feminist green socialism Virago Press, London Merchant C 1996 Earthcare, women and the environment Routledge, London Middleton N and O 'Keefe P 2003 Rio plus ten. Politics, poverty and the environment Pluto Press, London Mies M and Shiva V 1993 Ecofeminism Zed Books, London Molyneaux M 1998 Analysing women 's movements Development and Change 29 Osborn D and Bigg T 1998 Earth Summit II, outcomes and analyses Earthscan, London Plumwood V 1993 Feminism and the mastery of nature Routledge, London Plumwood V 2003 Environmental culture, the ecological crisis of reason Routledge, London Rai S M 2003 Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women: mainstreaming gender, democratizing the state? in Rai S M ed Mainstreaming gender, democratizing the state? Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women Manchester University Press, Manchester Rose G 1993 Feminism and geography: the limits of geographical knowledge Polity Press, Cambridge Salleh A 1997 Ecofeminism as politics: nature, Marx and the postmodern Zed Books, London Seager J 2003 Pepperoni or broccoli? On the cutting wedge of feminist environmentalism Gender, Place, Culture 10 2 Smith D 2001 The problems of essentialism in Skjelsbaek and Smith D eds Gender, peace and conflict Sage, London Spretnak C 1989 Toward an ecofeminist spirituality in Plant J Healing the wounds New Society Publishers, Philadelphia, PA UNDAW & PRIO 1996 Political decision making and conflict resolution: the impact of gender difference Expert Group Meeting in Santo Domingo 7-11 October, Dominican Republic EGM/PRDC/1996/REP.1 UN Division for the Advancement of Women, New York United Nations 1992 Agenda 21 United Nations, Geneva United Nations 1995 Report of the 4th World Conference on Women 4-15 September, Beijing (UN Publication Sales No E.96.IV.13) United Nations Economic and Social Council 2001 Commission on Sustainable Development acting as the preparatory committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development: Implementing Agenda 21, Report of the Secretary-General United Nations, New York Wickramasinghe A 2003 Women and environmental justice in South Asia in Agyeman J, Bullard R and Evans B Just sustainabilities, development in an unequal world Earthscan/MIT Press, London Women and Equality Unit 1998 Gender Impact Assessment: a framework for gender mainstreaming (http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk) Women 's Environment and Development Organization 2002 Gender analysis of the draft plan of implementation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (http://www.wedo.org/sus_dev/approaches) Women 's Environmental Network 2003 Newsletter autumn Women 's Environmental Network/Women in Europe for a Common Future 2002 Personal communication World Bank 2002 Gender mainstreaming strategy paper (http://www.worldbank.org/gender/overview/ssp/home/htm) SUSAN BUCKINGHAM Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Brunel University, Uxbridge UB8 3PH E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org -1- | |
Questia Media America, Inc. www.questia.com
Publication Information: Article Title: Ecofeminism in the Twenty-First Century. Contributors: Susan Buckingham - author. Journal Title: The Geographical Journal. Volume: 170. Issue: 2. Publication Year: 2004. Page Number: 146+. COPYRIGHT 2004 Royal Geographical Society; COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group
Please join StudyMode to read the full document