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Planting the Seed for Women in the Climate Conversation

Some of you may have heard the term 'ecofeminism' being used increasingly in the media or conversations with others over the last few years. Still, many of us may not entirely understand the term or the movement behind it. Mary Mellor, an economist at Northumbria University, defines ecofeminism as a "connection between the exploitation and degradation of the natural world and the subordination and oppression of women."

Now, that's a lot of words, so let's break them down. Essentially, ecofeminists believe that patriarchal societies similarly treat women and nature. Such a culture tends to overexploit and oppose the independence of both women and nature. For example, just how society clears forests and fields to build factories and houses, they also tend to undermine women's voices regarding topics of importance. The tragedy of Love Canal is an excellent example of this intersection when school officials refused to believe mothers who claimed that their children were becoming sick due to toxic waste under the school.

Although the topic has come into the spotlight more recently, ecofeminism first emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s. Both the Feminist and Green movements noticed the parallel between the way nature and women were being treated and decided to take action. The first ecofeminist conference occurred after the nuclear meltdown at 3-Mile Island. Women around the country began to meet and discuss ways to combine feminism and environmentalism to promote better treatment of women and nature alike.

Humankind and nature have always been codependent; however, women and nature perhaps have a much deeper bond due to the role of women in family dynamics. For example, Climate change disproportionately affects women as they are primarily responsible for producing food for their families. In droughts or floods, it makes their job that much harder to provide for their family. When nature is at harm, so are the women living in it.

When it comes to tackling the climate crisis or solving any environmental issue, organizations and governments must include women in the discussion because they are the bearers of change. Unfortunately, the voices of women are often