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eco-feminism

Radical Realism for Climate Justice

By Lili Fuhr and Linda Schneider - P2P Foundation, October 4, 2018

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial is feasible, and it is our best hope of achieving environmental and social justice, of containing the impacts of a global crisis that was born out of historical injustice and highly unequal responsibility.

To do so will require a radical shift away from resource-intensive and wasteful production and consumption patterns and a deep transformation towards ecological sustainability and social justice. Demanding this transformation is not ‘naïve’ or ‘politically unfeasible’, it is radically realistic.

This publication is a civil society response to the challenge of limiting global warming to 1.5°C while also paving the way for climate justice. It brings together the knowledge and experience of a range of international groups, networks and organisations the Heinrich Böll Foundation has worked with over the past years, who in their political work, research and practice have developed the radical, social and environmental justice-based agendas political change we need across various sectors.

Download a complete PDF of this collection of documents.

Farmworkers Say “Us Too,” Demanding Freedom From Sexual Violence

By Michelle Chen - In These Times, November 21, 2017

Ahead of the Thanksgiving feast, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) hit midtown Manhattan on Monday to face down the suits with chants of “Exploitation has got to go!” CIW was there to demand humane working conditions on their farms.

Peppered with brass-band musicians and street puppets, the protesters rallied at the New York, N.Y. offices of the fast food giant Wendy’s.

CIW members hoisted tomato and bucket-shaped picket signs with slogans like “freedom from sexual violence” and “Justicia” to face off against Wendy’s cheery, red pigtails. They demanded fair wages and freedom from violence and exploitation.

This week’s march, part of the coalition’s multi-city tour to promote its Fair Food labor protection program, put women workers at the frontlines, protesting the epidemic of sexual assault in agricultural labor, which affects as many as eight in ten women.

Decades before labor-relations courts and bureaucracy-laden contract negotiations, workplace disputes with powerful corporations were resolved with fists and clubs. And in Trump’s America, CIW workers are turning Florida’s vast tomato fields into the latest frontline in the struggle for the rights and dignity of immigrant communities.

“As farmworker women, this experience poses an incredibly hard choice; we don’t have another job, we have to suffer this abuse, because we have a family to maintain,” said organizer Lupe Gonzalo, speaking on the violence that stalks women working the fields, at an October gathering at a Minnesota theater. “Our silence is something we must grow accustomed to every day.”

Voices like Gonzalo’s rarely take the public spotlight in conversations on sexual violence and discrimination, but her words resonate deeply on the edges of the economy. As a minority in a male-dominated workforce, working in brutal, isolated conditions, women are exposed daily to sexual violence, be it coworkers’ harassment or rape by supervisors.

Although agribusiness corporations have historically failed to address sexual abuse in their supply chains, CIW members say they’ve virtually eliminated sexual harassment from the fields they’ve organized via targeted enforcement, broad-based monitoring and worker education efforts. Additionally, strong community support and the group’s pioneering Fair Food Program (FFP) has helped break the culture of silence in the fields by making women’s rights everybody’s business—from coworkers and neighbors all the way up to multinational restaurant chains.

Wendy’s is now the lone holdout among the large restaurant chains that CIW has pushed over the years to sign onto its FFP code of conduct. Since the 1990s, the group has marched on college campuses, rallied at corporate offices and lobbied on Capitol Hill to promote an innovative form of collective worker protection that has evolved into FFP's worker-led social responsibility system.

Though not a formal union contract, the program's model, which now protects some 35,000 workers, essentially provides a bill of rights for thousands of laborers in Florida’s heavily consolidated agribusiness sector to promote structural change at all levels of the industry. The binding agreement mandates that all companies in the supply chain—including growers and retailers—provide an additional penny-per-pound premium that is passed through to pickers. This adds a considerable amount to workers’ annual wages. Meanwhile, the agreement ensures enforceable standards for fair working conditions, job security through direct, long-term employment and due process for abuse complaints.

"We want to come out stronger and have our rights respected"

By staff - La Via Campesina, February 22, 2017

Speaking with Inmaculada Ibáñez Vargas from Vía Campesina Europe, just months before the International Peasant Movement's Seventh Conference.

As part of the preparatory process for Vía Campesina's International Conference, which will take place in July in the Basque Country, the women's articulation group from Vía Campesina held a meeting at the organisation ANTA in El Salvador. 

Andalusian Inmaculada Ibáñez, member of the women's articulation group and leader of the women's faction of the Coordinadora Agricultores Ganaderos (a major farmer organisation in Spain), spoke with Radio Mundo Real about the main topics that will be covered by the event. These will be angled from a peasant and popular feminism perspective.

She stressed, in particular, the lack of rights she witnessed granted to peasants in El Salvador and the negative impact this can have. Her visit to El Salvador was her first visit to Latin America. She also mentioned that as part of its Seventh Conference, Vía Campesina sets out to make the role of female peasants more visibile in food production.

In the interview, Inmaculada said that what is often called the "primary sector is extremely important because we are talking about food production".

When asked about the situation faced by migrants who are attempting to get to Europe and the obstacles they encounter when trying to reach the EU, Inmaculada recalled that both Spain and Brussels have signed a series of agreements that allow migrants to gain access to their territories.

"We want to come out stronger and have our rights respected", said Inmaculada in her conversation in El Salvador, where she was speaking about the desired outcome of the peasant conference in the Basque Country.

Inmaculada said that the lack of protection rights and social security enjoyed by peasant men and women in Central America constituted one of the starker contrasts between European peasants and their American counterparts.

She concluded by saying: "when people like us who work in the fields have rights, this doesn't just improve our life quality but also the life quality of the population as a whole, because we are feeding the world and this is extremely important".

Intersectional Ecofeminism: Environmentalism for Everybody

By Briana Villalobos - Wild California, February 22, 2017

The Women’s March was certainly a resounding and inspiring event. An estimated 2.5 million people around the world peacefully marched in solidarity for various women’s and social rights issues against the rhetoric of the newfound federal administration. Having attended the march in Eureka, I must admit I was astounded by the diversity of issues and people whom which were present. It was certainly a spectacle, and aimed to leave the crowd with a warm and fuzzy feeling to last them the next news day.

The Women’s March made an impression on everyone, but not without some important critiques. The success of the march set the precedent for the Science March, Peoples Climate March, and any other future collective efforts. However, one important question lingered as the crowds dissipated: was the mainstream feminist movement finally ready to treat the perspectives and experiences of all self-identifying females, of differing races, sexes, and classes with the same gravity of those as their counterparts—and what does this mean for environmentalist movements whom have been historically female driven?

For the past 60 years, women have comprised some of the most powerful voices within the environmentalist movement. Consider Rachel Carson and her influential book Silent Spring, the Chipko movement ,Vandana Shiva’s and Wangari Maathai’s decades of advocacy— and more recently, Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx, Dakota Access Sacred Stone Campground founder and water protector LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, and local favorites Julia Butterfly Hill, Judi Bari, and Alicia Littletree Bales. EPIC has its own series of powerful women such as our co-founder Cecilia Lanman, and long time attorney Sharon Duggan.

Feminism is universally understood as a movement for women (but men can be feminists too!). Unfortunately, that often means that the needs and wants of privileged cis (people whose gender identity matches assigned sex) white ladies get addressed, and the experiences and voices of other self-identifying females is ignored. In comparison, female driven environmentalist movements are predominately rooted in ecofeminist theories, which incorporate a wide range of intersectional concerns for all identifying females—including trans and non-gender conforming experiences.

Historically, marginalized groups have been on the front lines of extreme weather due to climate change—like the thousands of displaced families after Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Haiti. Underdeveloped or low-income agriculture communities are more likely to be subject to unlawful work conditions, and are typically the first to interact with toxins and harmful pesticides— communities like Kettlmen, CA, where toxins in water runoff and water pollution caused a swarm of birth effects and miscarriages. People of color have been discriminated in legal systems making it more difficult to combat poor water quality or air pollution—like the water crisis in Flint Michigan. However, despite these difficulties, these communities are also the ones who are doing the most work to mitigate the consequences of environmental harm.

Today’s environmental issues stem broader than just our waterways and forests. Like traditional feminism, ecofeminism personifies various definitions, but acts as a perspective that looks at environmental issues through a social justice lens, and critically analyzes how the effects of environmental degradation and climate change affects marginalized groups more intensely. Ecofeminism finds parallels in which the environment and women are treated in our contemporary society. In many instances women and nature are viewed one in the same. Karen J. Warren illustrated this concept in Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature: “Women are described in animal terms as pets, cows, sows, foxes, chicks, serpents, bitches, beavers, old bats, old hens, mother hens, pussycats, cats…‘Mother Nature’ is raped, mastered, conquered, mined; her secrets are ‘penetrated’…Virgin timber is felled, cut down; fertile soil is tilled, and land that lies ‘fallow’ is ‘barren,’ useless.” Ecofeminism unveils oppressive societal structures such as racism, classism, and sexism and how they play a significant role in the health of the environment—often because the same systems that are in place to oppress women and minorities are also exploiting the environment.

Applying ecofeminism is the blending of biocentric and anthropocentric concerns. For example, when discussing the harmful effects of the LNG pipeline along the Klamath River, don’t just think of the effects of the ecosystem and the fisheries—dig deeper and consider the communities who live close to the river, such as the various native communities like The Karuk and Yurok Tribes—and then dig even deeper and consider how polluted water negatively impacts their health and cultural traditions.

This perspective allows you to practice and identify with all social justice movements. If you identify as an ecofeminist you’re not only a feminist, but also a universal ally for environmentalism, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and any other movement that aims to reinforce the needs of marginalized groups —and that is the beauty of intersectional ecofeminism.

The Women’s March represented a catalyst for mainstream feminism. The popular “we are one”, and “all lives matter” rhetoric is counter productive, and negates the experiences of the disproportionately marginalized groups. Those granted privilege whether it be gender, race, or socioeconomic class must understand and be empathic to the communities whom suffer the most when it hits the fan. Those who have privilege must use it for good, and advocate with and on behalf of our fellow communities. Educate yourself, share dialogue with others who may have never heard of the word feminism or intersectionality, and dare I say… initiate that hard conversation with your Trump supporter friend/ family member to help them see the other side of the spectrum.

Simply put: Feminism, environmentalism, and the LGBTQ movement cannot advance their agenda without low income self- identifying women of color at the center of it, so any event that affects these populations should not only concern you—but gain your advocacy and action.

Why Judging People for Buying Unhealthy Food Is Classist

By Wiley Reading - Everyday Feminism, September 30, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

As a nation, we’re slowly realizing that whole, fresh foods are good for you and that cooking at home can save you money and provide you with better nutrition.

Overall, this is a great trend. It’s becoming easier and more common to get fresh food, whole foods, local foods, and organic foods.

Unfortunately, though, this shift in culture has also begun to produce a toxic byproduct: better-than-thou attitudes and judgments about low-income people’s decisions about food.

“Why do they waste their money on junk food?” “Why doesn’t she cook for her children?” “Ugh, look, he’s buying his toddler a Happy Meal.”

Many of us have thought things like this or heard other people say things like this. We are very concerned with how poor people (or people we assume are poor) spend money on food.

The truth is, though, we rarely have all the facts when we judge these people. Let’s change that.

Industrial Workers of the World - Gender Equity Committee Statement / Call to Action

By the IWW Gender Equity Committee
August 1, 2014

Events of harassment, sexual violence, abuse and misogyny have transpired in many branches and projects of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). A recent job survey showed that 1 in 6 people experience sexual harassment in the workplace. This survey goes on to say that 51% of those harassed say it was from a peer, not their boss. However grassroots and radical our union's purpose, as a union made up entirely of peers, without bosses, we are not exempt from societal norms—such as the subjugation of people based on sex, gender identity, race, disability, sexual orientation and class. Women and gendered minorities within this union are intensely and disproportionately affected and victimized by these incidents which are without a doubt the rotten fruit of patriarchy.

The result is often the resignation and continued disenfranchisement of valuable and capable fellow workers. These fellow workers are lost to our cause because of our union's frequent inability to enact compassionate healing and judicial processes.

The IWW Gender Equity Committee (GEC) strongly recommends that EVERY branch of the Industrial Workers of the World make the active resistance of patriarchy, sexual violence and other forms of oppression a priority for their branch and the members within. We encourage our fellow workers to diligently develop and effectively implement official practices and policies that address incidents of injury where terms of immediate relief, punitive action, and transformative justice prioritize the needs of the survivor(s). We also encourage branches and members to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the existing complaints procedure and conflict resolution policies outlined in Article III of the IWW Constitution’s General Bylaws as well as any additional relevant policies that may already exist within your branch.

'Building rage': Decolonizing Class War

By Natalie Knight - Rabble.ca, June 13, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following is a speech by Natalie Knight delivered at "Decolonization 101," a panel organized by Streams of Justice on June 2, 2014. The panel took place at Grandview Baptist Church, Unceded Coast Salish Territories.

I want to acknowledge that we are on occupied and unceded Coast Salish territories which are Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw lands.

On February 26 of this year, an Inuk woman named Loretta Saunders was found murdered and dumped on the side of the road in Salisbury, New Brunswick. Her death raised a national conversation about violence against Indigenous women. It is a deeply sad loss, and an acute effect of colonialism. And I also wonder about the reasons why Loretta received a more mainstream response than others or those that can't even be reported, those deaths that are basically sanctioned by the police. Loretta was in university and maybe it was easier for Canada's white-dominated society to recognize her and her violent absence. Maybe an Inuk woman who goes to university is more comprehensible than the over 1,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women who have been documented in the recent RCMP report, and the many Indigenous women still in certain shadows, including those missing and murdered below the colonial border.

In a series of online articles, Indigenous activists and writers expressed outrage, love, and wrote to contextualize Loretta Saunders within a much larger web of daily assault against Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women, that goes unseen. Siku Allooloo wrote a piece called "From Outrage to Radical Love," which starts by saying: "I've been in a building rage. I am outraged at the status quo, at the overwhelming rate of gender violence and murder suffered by Indigenous women and girls in this country. I am disgusted with the lived experience of that; of gender violence as a pervasive experience that the majority of Indigenous women and young girls face in various forms throughout our lifetimes."

Siku Allooloo goes on to argue for the power of love to bind Indigenous people together in the face of horrific violence. And we definitely need more love. But I want to linger on this "building rage" that she had because I feel it and I don't actually want to transform that rage into anything other than a decolonized class war that finds its power in leadership by militant Indigenous and racialized women.

But looking for Indigenous and racialized women leadership is not ultimately about identity. It's not about just centring some voices who don’t get heard and asking others to be quiet and listen. It's not about making adjustments in representational democracy or ensuring that we have the right ratios of identities in our spaces, it's not just about breaking the visible signs of white supremacy by assimilating some racialized people into spaces that haven't actually changed. Decolonization is instead about breaking the entire system that creates and maintains identity categories that act to severely limit class solidarity. It is also about refusal, dissonance, and an unrelenting commitment to remaking myself, my relationships, and politics along lines that I can't really predict and that won’t be recognized by whatever dominant social structures are around. For me this is the power of decolonization, and in the settler colonial state of Canada, it might be the only way to revitalize class politics that reflect our real lived lives and are relevant to a much larger international class war.

A United Front Against Climate Catastrophe

By Burkely Hermann - Z Blogs, June 13, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Aggressive militarism continues to emanate from the office of the presidency and the US government itself. With drone strikes in foreign countries, an “empire of drone bases” in Africa as the Washington Post once called it, and a continuing war in Afghanistan, you would think that there would be mass protests on the streets against these injustices. Instead, there have been noble and honorable protests against drones, the war in Afghanistan, Bush era war criminals, and so on, but they have been too limited. At the same time, protests calling for the coming climate catastrophe to be adequately addressed have been growing among indigenous people and concerned citizens in both the Global North and the Global South. This is despite a laser focus of the big environmental organizations, Gang Green, on stopping Keystone XL but not a focus on many other issues. This article outlines why the peace movement[1] and the environmental movement within the United States should join together as a united front against corporate power and global neoliberal capitalism.

New Environmentalists Are Taking Bold Action - It's Working

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers - Alternet and Popular Resistence, May 23, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. 

No longer dominated by the traditional “Big Green” groups that were taking big donations from corporate polluters, the new environmental movement is broader, more assertive and more creative. With extreme energy extraction and climate change bearing down on the world, environmental justice advocates are taking bold actions to stop extreme energy extraction and create new solutions to save the planet.  These ‘fresh greens’ often work locally, but also connect through national and international actions.

The recent national climate assessment explains why the movement is deepening, broadening and getting more militant. The nation’s experts concluded that climate change is impacting us in serious ways right now.  It is no longer a question of whether climate change is real – the evidence is apparent in chaotic seasonal weather; floods caused by heavier downpours of rain and deeper droughts; more severe wildfires in the West; the economic impacts of rising insurance rates, as well as challenges for farming, maple syrup production, and finding seafood in the oceans, among many others.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently issued its third report. The world’s scientists found that taking action now to mitigate climate change is less expensive than doing nothing. German economist Ottmar Edenhofer, a co-chair of the IPCC committee wrote: “We cannot afford to lose another decade. If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.” Previous reports have warned of the dangers of human-induced climate change, e.g. faster sea level rise, more extreme weather, and collapse of the permafrost sink, which would further accelerate warming; as well as a breakdown of food systems, more violent conflicts, and making some currently habited and arable land virtually unlivable.

The IPCC and national assessment create a sense of urgency even though the reality is these documents understate the risks and the need to end the use of fossil fuels.  This week it was reported that the IPCC’s language was toned down during the political review in which countries that produce carbon fuels, like Saudi Arabia, Brazil, China and the United States, edited language to protect fossil fuel interests.

The effects of the race to extract every ounce of fuel from the Earth can’t be hidden. A report this week found US oil spills increased by 17% in 2013, with more than 20 per day leaking 26 million gallons of oil, fracking wastewater and more. In February significant five fossil fuel accidents were reported in four days. This week Los Angeles was the latest to experience the impact of an oil spill when 50,000 gallons of crude oil flowed down their streets and required evacuation.  The adverse environmental and health effects of all forms of energy extraction are coming to light from mountain top removal for coal in Appalachia to uranium mining in the West. Even four years after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there is no restoration in sight.

Brazil: Assessment After 6th MST Congress

By Itelvina Massioli - Radio Mundo Real, February 20, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn’t start now, and that won´t end here,” said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).

During the interview, the leader stated that this congress “managed to mark the beginning of a new stage in our struggle for land and our class struggle in general.”  “The balance is very, very positive”, said Itelvina.

An increasingly important role for women

In the past years, the feminist agenda, specifically peasant and popular feminism, has been strongly established within Latin American peasant movements. This has come hand in hand with peasant women taking on more political roles. “We can speak of an advance in the political prominence of landless women in the building of the movement of the past 30 years, but especially on the political struggle, on the struggle for land and agrarian reform,” said the leader.

On the congress, Itelvina said that their participation was not limited to a matter of numbers: “We ensured strong participation by women from all states, not just in terms of percentages. We led the process and the development of the congress, where many of our women friends intervened at the different tables and moments of our congress”.

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