Ecofeminism is an activist and intellectual movement that sees crucial ties between the dominance of nature and the oppression of women. Ecofeminism is a branch of feminism that shows the connection between women and environment, which was first named by a French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne in 1974. The new eco-feminist movement was born out of a series of conferences and seminars organised in the United States by a group of women in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They gathered to explore ways in which feminism and environmentalism could be merged to foster reverence for women and the natural world, and were inspired by the notion that the long historical precedent of associating women with nature has contributed to the injustice for both. They observed that women and nature were often represented as disorderly, insane, and in need of control, whereas men were often depicted as rational, organized, and therefore capable of guiding the use and creation of women and nature.
Some eco-feminists prefer to see women as closer to nature because they see parallels in them, such as reproduction, passivity, nurturing, femininity, open to exploitation, etc. Other eco-feminists oppose these views of women and claim that as long as women are viewed as a means of fertility and abuse, they will still be seen as unequal and vulnerable. At the end of the 1980s, eco-feminism started to be split into two separate philosophies: radical ecofeminism and cultural eco-feminism.
Radical eco-feminists argue that, in order to degrade both, the prevailing capitalist culture equates nature and women, it is based on the claim of early ecofeminists that male supremacy must be examined with a view at ending the relationships between women and nature. Some radical ecofeminists often hold the same view on animal rights, arguing that existing power systems are disproportionately abusing animals in a manner that affects the environment, too.
Cultural ecofeminism describes the bond between nature and women as empowering, presenting our gender as uniquely related to the environment and natural cycles through such factors as menstruation and childbirth. This opinion indicates that women are best placed to take responsibility when it comes to feeling the true harm of environmental degradation and doing something about it.
Some examples of Ecofeminist movements
Chipko Movement: The Chipko campaign was a non-violent protest in 1973 directed at the preservation and restoration of trees, but best known for the joint mobilization of women for the conservation of forests, which also contributed to a shift in views towards their own status in society. The revolt against felling trees and keeping an ecological equilibrium emerged in the Chamoli district of Uttar Pradesh (now Uttarakhand) in 1973, and in no time has it spread to other states in northern India. The name of the ‘Chipko’ campaign comes from the word ’embrace,’ as the villagers embraced the trees and hugged them to avoid being hacked.
Women Pentagon Action 1980-1981: One of these historic movements happened at the Pentagon, Washington in 1980 where 2000 women encircled the building and put gravestones in the lawn, wove yarn across the entrance to show the web of life. They were demanding equal rights, socially, economically and reproductively, and asking to end militaristic actions done by the Government which will exploit the whole community.
How Ecofeminism is different from Feminism?
Ecofeminism is not only concerned about women, but also with other communities who are oppressed on the grounds of their gender, race, sexuality, faith, and so on. They believe that the same patriarchal structure that stigmatizes these communities is the same structure that is exploiting our environment which can be patriarchy, misogyny, and the combination of capitalism. A culture that feeds on profits, hierarchy, and injustice of the poor and oppressed.
Ecofeminism is a unique feminist take which looks after a concrete relationship between gender and environmental problems. Harm to the environment is certainly a feminist issue; it urgently requires mobilised, trained women to be able to protect communities and avoid more significant destruction.