Ecofeminism demonstrated with an image of a woman sat on the grass.

Everything You Need to Know About Ecofeminism

The term ‘ecofeminism’ has been in the academic vernacular since the 1970s.

However, only in recent years has it really started to gain momentum in published research.

From 2021 to 2022, nine studies containing the keyword ‘ecofeminism’ were published in MDPI journals, compared to only a handful in the years prior.

And now, a new Special Issue, titled ‘Reconstructing Feminism’, is open for submission until 28th February 2023.

One study has already been published in this Special Issue. It looks at how ‘The Ghost Dance’, an environmental and ancestral ritual, is depicted in Gardens in the Dunes, a historical fiction novel.

Even though ecofeminism has truly taken off, few outside of the field really understand its meaning, how it works, and why it’s important.

What is ecofeminism?

The prefix ‘eco’ is, on the other hand, in popular usage. It refers to something that aims to preserve the environment.

Meanwhile, ‘feminism’ refers to the advocacy of women’s rights.

Ecofeminism is therefore the point at which concerns for the environment coincide with the drive for gender equality.

This can involve the work of women to preserve the environment, but it also refers to similarities between women’s struggles and those of the environment.

Relationship with environmental ethics

Ecofeminism is closely related to environmental ethics. The bonding together of women’s rights and environmental concerns into one promotes both causes simultaneously.

Women are more affected by climate change because they are more likely to be affected by poverty. This in turn means that agricultural problems due to climate change, like food shortages, disproportionately affect women.

History of ecofeminism

In 1974, Françoise d’Eaubonne, author and feminist, published Le Féminisme ou la Mort (‘Feminism or Death’), where she first introduced the term ‘ecofeminism’ to the world.

She suggested that the oppression of less privileged groups, including women, is tied to how humans attempt to oppress nature.

Since the release of d’Eaubonne’s groundbreaking work, several different ecofeminism movements have emerged.

Ecofeminism examples

Ecofeminist action is taking place around the world, improving conditions across continents.

One example is the Green Belt Movement. This was established in 1977 in Kenya. The organization plants trees to fight against deforestation, with a view to also support women around the world. As part of their work, they organize groups of women to plant trees.

Then, there’s Women’s Voices for the Earth, a North American organization led by women to control toxic exposure in their local environment.

The work of these two groups alone demonstrates that ecofeminist groups are continuously changing things for the better. They do this by promoting both the environment and the power of women to make a difference in society.

Why is ecofeminism important?

Ecofeminism and its offshoots are shaping how we think about both the environment and women’s rights.

Promoting women’s rights may be key to solving the climate crisis. There’s plenty of evidence indicating that equal opportunities between genders naturally lead to better outcomes for the environment.

Tackling these two issues together is highly effective. We can target both in one go, and improve efficiency by saving time and resources.

The rise of ecofeminism as a research field is also encouraging the publication of an increasing number of high-quality papers, which help to promote both the environment and feminism simultaneously. Without ecofeminism forming as a concept, there might not be as much research interest as there now is.

Future advances in the field

Ecofeminism is a great force for positive social change. However, it has a long way to go. There are currently issues within and between ecofeminist communities. They slow down progress in the field by creating division.

One of these issues involves ecofeminist groups from developed and underdeveloped countries.

There are concerns that ecofeminists living in developed countries are themselves contributing to environmental damage. On the other hand, those with fewer resources will find it more difficult to achieve their goals.

Future research could focus on these disparities, bearing in mind the environmental sacrifice of economic growth across the world, as well as how women’s rights and social standing vary from country to country. To contribute to the ongoing research in this field, please consider contributing to Women, a multidisciplinary journal focused on women’s medicine and healthcare.

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