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Judith Plant describes Ecofeminism in an essay titled “Women and Nature”:

“Once we understand the historical connections between women and nature and their subsequent oppression, we cannot help but take a stand on the war against nature. By participating in environmental stand-offs against those who are assuming the right to control the natural world, we are helping to create an awareness of domination at all levels. …


Women's values, centred around life-giving, must be re-valued, and elevated from their once-subordinate role. What women know from experience needs recognition and respect. We have had generations of experience in conciliation, dealing with interpersonal conflicts daily in domestic life. We know how to feel for others because we have been socialised that way.” http://www.thegreenfuse.org/plant.htm


The Green Belt Movement


from www.greenbeltmovement.org:


“The planting of trees is the planting of ideas. By starting with the simple act of planting a tree, we give hope to ourselves and to future generations.–Wangari Maathai


“The Green Belt Movement is one of the most prominent women’s civil society organizations, based in Kenya, advocating for human rights and supporting good governance and peaceful democratic change through the protection of the environment. Its mission is to empower communities worldwide to protect the environment and to promote good governance and cultures of peace.


How It All Started

The Green Belt Movement (GBM) was started in 1977 by Dr. Wangari Maathai, the first African woman and the first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (in 2004). What began as a grassroots tree planting program to address the challenges of deforestation, soil erosion and lack of water is now a vehicle for empowering women….By protecting the environment, these women are also becoming powerful champions for sustainable management of scarce resources such as water, equitable economic development, good political governance, and ultimately….. peace.


Our Achievements

Today, more than 40 million trees have been planted across Africa. The result: soil erosion has been reduced in critical watersheds, thousands of acres of biodiversity-rich indigenous forest have been restored and protected, and hundreds of thousands of women and their families are standing up for their rights and those of their communities and so are living healthier, more productive lives.” http://greenbeltmovement.org


Green Belt Movement Founder and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari MaathaiJudy K. planting trees with children to restore and conserve the water catchment area.


Gender and Nature as Social Constructions


Instead of seeing “gender” and “nature” as transhistorical truths, we can understand them as socially constructed concepts and practices that are deeply implicated in one another. Judith Butler (1990) writes “Gender is not to culture as sex is to nature; gender is also the discursive/cultural means by which ‘sexed nature’ or a ‘natural sex’ is produced and established as ‘prediscursive,’ prior to culture, a politically neutral surface on which culture acts.” (p. 7).

Bordieu (1992) points out that oppositions organize every our every thought and practice. When we say culture/nature, we are not so far from saying man/woman, subject/object, human/inhuman, rational/irrational, spiritual/material, controllable/uncontrollable…. Bordieu complains that these oppositions “think in our place” (p. 40). They “function as the most absolute system of censure, since they are … the things which structure what is thought, and therefore they are themselves very difficult to think” (p. 39).


Queer theory gives us another way to think of both gender and nature. See




The Mother’s Milk Project


Katsi Cook, an internationally recognized leading expert of Aboriginal midwifery education.

The Mother’s Milk Project (MMP) was initiated by activist Katsi Cook among the Akwesasne people who live on the Regis Mohawk Reservation, New York. “The group grew out people’s fears about the safety of breast milk; many also worried that chemicals in the air, soil, and water were causing birth defects. 125 Mohawk women were trained as researchers. The findings? Those who consumed fish from the St. Lawrence River had a 200 percent greater concentration of toxins in their milk than those who did not. MMP responded by advising pregnant and nursing women to stop eating fish from contaminated waters. They also launched a campaign against corporate polluters including Alcoa, General Electric, and Reynolds and helped establish the Six Nations Birthing Center to promote midwifery. Now, 19 years after its founding, the MMP continues to be a model research, advocacy, and direct-service provider.” http://zmagsite.zmag.org/Dec2004/bader1204.html


Women and Development


Vandana Shiva writes:


“While gender subordination and patriarchy are the oldest of oppressions, they have taken on new and more violent forms through the project of development. Through its appropriation and destruction of the natural resource base this project has systematically removed from women's management and control the land, water and forest resources from which they produced the sustenance on which the survival of their families depended. This has simultaneously impaired both women's productivity and the productivity and renewability of nature itself.


Patriarchal categories have defined the active as masculine and the passive as feminine, valuing the former and denigrating the latter. Thus resource destruction, being active, has been positively valued as a productive activity, while more passive, less intrusive participation in life's regenerative processes has been denigrated as feminine and unproductive. The activities of women, nature, and life itself thus have been denied value, resulting in modes of maldevelopment that have further exacerbated male-female inequality.” http://www.pcdf.org/1993/50shiva.htm




Bourdieu, P. (1992). Thinking about limits. Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 9, pp. 37-49.

Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, NY: Routledge.

Shiva, V. (n.d.) Ecological Recovery and the feminine principle. Retrieved online Nov. 2006 at http://www.pcdf.org/1993/50shiva.htm

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