For an ecofeminist answer to the climate crisis.

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For an ecofeminist answer to the climate crisis.

Introduction by Marijke Colle The ecological and social crises are the two sides of the same coin: the capitalist mode of production. It destroys the environment which is the basis of our existence as human beings and as society. It exploits the vast majority of people on earth, workers, peasants, poor people.

The ecological crisis The climate crisis is accelerating: melting of the ice on the western part of the South Pole and on Greenland. This will accelerate the rise of the sea level. We witness more and more frequent extreme weather: typhoons, heat waves, droughts and flooding.

The crisis of food production The dominant methods of food production are not sustainable: fossil fuels, heavy machinery, chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides for monoculture of export crops who increasingly are subject of pests beyond human control. Productivity tends to diminish and the quality of soils is degraded. The production of agrofuels (maize, sunflower oil,…) instead of food adds to speculation and instability of food prices. Land grabbing by multinational companies and by rich countries is a massive recent phenomenon in many poor countries. The consequences in developing countries are food uncertainty instead of food sovereignty!

Growing pollution The quality of the air in the big cities, the terrible pollution of many rivers, the chemical poisoning of the soil, are the proof of a global pollution. The increase of cancers due to this pollution is now clear.

This global ecological crisis is not a natural phenomenon but it is a MAN-MADE crisis. It is not caused by individual “greediness” or by “human nature”. Human societies exist for at least 20.000 years. But it is only since the start of the industrial revolution at the end of the 18th century and the growth of capitalism, that human society started an exponential growth of production and of depletion of resources through a ferocious exploitation of nature and of human labor. Today, capitalist companies dominate the whole world. They have expanded to exploitation of nature to all possible places, ecosystems and domains! All resources and methods of production have been privatized: land, water, minerals, fossil fuels, the air, intellectual property and patents on life and biotechnologies. They are used, NOT to fulfill human needs, but only to generate always more profits. The search for profits lies at the basis of the capitalist system: competition is the rule and only the winners get the profits. In order to win, companies have to produce and to sell always more commodities. The capitalist economy does not answer to existing human needs through the production of useful goods and services, the system only produces if it can make a profit! Some typical examples: the choices in research by the pharmaceutical industry, are determined by the prospects of big profits on the selling of drugs and not by the prospect of eradicating diseases through prevention and vaccination. There are more investments in the production of individual cars than in a good quality network of cheap public transport!

Women’s oppression, inequality, women’s liberation During the known history of human society, women and man were not considered equals: The division of labor between men and women devalued women’s work and women became the central figures in maintaining life and caring for the overall well being of men and children The responsibility of women was more and more limited to the private sphere whereas men dominated in all fields of public life: politics, economic power, religion, the army, art, science, technology, etc. In the 20th century, the women’s movement grew and developed everywhere: in Europe, revolutionary Russia, Turkey, China, Japan, in North and South America, India, Pakistan, and other countries of South Asia, and in many African countries. Women fought for the right to vote, equal rights in marriage and divorce, for reproductive rights, social rights and education. And those struggles were successful in many countries and on many topics. Only the openly reactionary forces continue to deny basic and equal rights to women.

Ecofeminism During the second half of the 20th century, ecological struggles started in different regions of the world: women living in poor neighborhoods and often from ethnic minority background in the USA, started to fight against the pollution of water and soil in their direct environment; women in the North of India resisted and fought against the deforestation projects in the Himalayas; women started to organize in the framework of the anti-globalisation movement: the World March of Women, the women in La Via Campesina etc. Women were at the forefront in the peace movement, for nuclear disarmament and also against ‘peaceful’ civil nuclear plants. A new awareness of nature amongst women, combined with their responsibilities for the well being of their families, was also an important factor in the indigenous communities in the America’s ( in the Amazon region, the mountains of the Andes, amongst the ‘first nations’ in the USA and Canada. The concept of Mother Earth or Pacha Mama was used to reflect on the parallel between the exploitation of nature by capitalism (or by techno-science….) and the exploitation/oppression of women by men and by the capitalist system. The need for an eco-feminist vision on the ecological crisis and on the economic crisis became clear. Women are more immediately concerned with this ecological crisis because they remain responsible for the care of all family members: they worry about dangerous food stuff (milk powder in China!), about pollution around the house, about food dependency (currently, 80% of locally produced food in developing countries is produced by women!).The capitalist economy depends on the unpaid and invisible domestic work of women. Eco-feminists must develop a feminist view on the ecological and economical crisis of global capitalism. It is necessary to strengthen all women’s movements and struggles in order to create the material forces for a radical transformation of society. The struggle for a safe, healthy and ecologically sustainable environment combined with the struggle for social justice, will strengthen and motivate half of humanity, to be the conscious force for women’s liberation, for the overthrow of capitalism and for an ecosocialist and ecofeminist alternative!