The Research: Women is the principal agent in

The purpose of my research is to understand women’s participation in the struggle against the various development activities and anti dam movements from an eco- feminist perspectives.  . There are various environmental movements such as Plachimada Cocola struggle, Lalur anti waste disposal struggles, vilapilshala anti –waste movement, silent valley movement, Athirappilly Anti dam movement, Kathikudam movement for the protection of river, these have seen the women’s participation against the power structures and corporate who suppress the rights of women as well as the nature. The study aims to see how the women participate in these movements and how they became part of these struggles

Rationale for Research:

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Women is the principal agent in many environment movements. Historically, the women particularly the rural India depend on the natural resources for several purposes which include livelihood. When these are on the side of destruction, the women often act vibrantly.  . So this study is understood what the role is played by the women in these movements. Whta made them to be part of these movements. The study is also to explore the force that make women to be a part of theses environmental movements of political in nature, which politic is often out stream for women.

Theoretical Perspectives

Eco-feminist often argues that when it comes to caring for the environment, is there a gender difference? Do women care more about their environment? 1Eco -feminists argue that there is commonality ground between women’s subordination and environmental destruction. The patriarchy and capitalism often subordinate the nature and the environment. In the society also we could see the reflection of the subordination in terms of women’s subordination. They never are mere reflections but also the worst situation. Women consistently rank values such as altruism, personal responsibility and empathy as more important than man do. These are values close to who are deeply concerned about the environment. Women also see environmentalism as important for protecting themselves and their families. The nurturing roles of women are often seen towards the environment on which she belongs. The people’s approaches to environmental issues may depend on their relationship nature.

Eco-feminism is grounded in a form of radical environmentalism and aims at transforming social and environmental injustices in a holistic way by giving women a central role in the process of change. Eco-feminist perspectives have areas of overlap with the Women, Environment and Development (WED) approach, which has primarily been applied within development policy since the 1980s, as both put women at the center of environmental action. However, in their statements and designs for environmental programs, mainstream development agencies have tended to echo eco-feminist discourses in much less radical ways, thereby depoliticizing them.

The study learns from an Eco feminist point of view, to see relationship between women and nature. For them, oppression and subordination of women and destruction of the nature are the result of the patriarchal and capitalist system of the society. The deprivation and lack of access to the resources are the major issues faced by the women. These are sponsored by manmade capitalism. The violence towards the women by the man as well as the destruction by the capitalist and the technology will go in hand in hand. These make the women stand with the nature and fight against the capitalism and development. Many times, when they stand for environment protection and against the capitalism, they are actually questioning their position in the society and challenging the patriarchy.

Agarwal (1998) puts forth the following three arguments of ecofeminists:

1.       There are important connections between the domination of women and the domination and exploitation of nature.

2.      In patriarchal thought, women are identified as being closer to nature and men as being closer to culture. Nature is seen as inferior to culture; hence, women are seen as inferior to men.

3.      Because the domination of women and the domination of nature have occurred together, women have a particular stake in ensuring the domination of nature.

Board problems and key questions

Eco-feminist shows the inter- connection of the women and nature in terms of exploitation and destruction. In eco-feminist view point the subordination of the women and exploitation of the nature is sponsored by the capitalism and patriarchy. Due to the inter connection of women and nature, the destruction of the environment directly affect the women and their life. This study understand how far these connection is influenced the particular context. This researcher is tries to understand how for women understand the environmental lose of the particular area. The research explores the enabling factors that lead the women to have a movement. And also how they could participate in the movement as women to the representation of the environment.

·         How the women’s life is connected to the environment?

·         What are the ways in which women depend on the environment?

·         How do they understand and speak about the environment losses?

·         Who are the women who participated in the movement?

·         What is the nature of their participation?

·         What reasons do women give for participation in the movement?

·         What made them to be part of the movement

·         What are the difficulties faced by women due to their involvement in the movement?

Review of Literature

The literature review is made to understand more about the topic and understand the literature gap in the topic. The literature is reviewed on various sub topic.

Does women and nature closely related?

Plant (1989) argues that Women and nature have had along association thought the history, but only now that these deepest meaning of this association are being understood to man.

Anthropologist Orture (1972) identifies mans as culture and women as nature. She argues that the cross- culturally and historically women are closer to nature as of their physiology, social role and the subordination. Whereas the men physiology leads him to engage in political affairs hunt, travel etc…

In her article  also Merchant (1990)shows another  way of relation of women and nature as a  commonly used analogy as the capacity of the women for the child birth and the capacity of the earth to give birth to metals and stones with the fusion with the sun.

Nelson (1990) as women, there is an immense tie with the ecology –in our art, science, spirituality, work and everyday lives. But never always concern of the mythological ties (women as angle) or bemoan (women as eco- victim), here need to grip on the different ways of women-nature relationship emerged and want to understood how we are brutalized, made vulnerable, detached or complicit with ecological degradation.

How can be explaining the domination of women and nature?

 Merchant (1992) quotes the Bookchin that nature did not declare war on humanity, patriarchal humanity declared war on women and on the living nature.

Merchant (1999) make the connection of disturbance of the environment and women for a different lens of the eco-feminism. Here the radical form of eco-feminism sees that women and nature have been mutually associated and devaluated in western culture.  The scientific revolution of the 17th century degraded the nature by replacing the renaissance organics and a nurturing earth with the metaphor of the machine. The earth is dominated by male- developed and controlled technology, science and industry.

For socialist eco-feminist, environmental problems are rooted in the rise of the capitalist patriarchy and the ideology that the earth and nature are for the human progress and for the technology. Both women and the nature are exploited for the progress of the men and the technology.

Merchant (1999) explains that the ontology and epistemology viewed by the cultural feminist are largely masculine in nature and exploited to nature and female gender. The earth is dominated by men and male developed technology. These male designed technologies are adversely affecting in the women’s reproductive system and also the productivity of nature.

Starhawk (1990) argues that the eco-feminism challenges all forms of domination, and its goal is transformation of the entire power structure towards the earth. He also argues that the environmental issues are could never address without the combined perspective of women, poor and those of all part of the globe of all culture and race background.

Nelsons (1990) also make argument regarding gender discrimination in the comments towards the environmental hazards. In the industrial toxic accidents often the comments of the male leaders are considered, where the feminist activist are often neglected and isolated, and the majority has the opined that women are afraid of the industry and technology “industrial hysteria”.

There are various stands for women to participate in the movements. Shiva (1990s) says that the extension of modern western patriarchy make economic based exploitation of women and of nature and also destruction of various cultures.  That is why throughout history the 3rd, women, peasant and tribal people are struggling for liberalism.

Shiva (1990) also shows through her article that the development projects have destroyed women’s productivity both by their management and control towards the environment. And also the ecological destruction, so nature’s productivity and renewability have been impaired.

So women make their efforts against the environmental destruction.

 Merchant (1990) shows the upside down connection between the women and biological reproduction becomes the source of the women’s empowerment and ecological activism. Women frequently spearhead local actions against industrialization and the power plants which actions have potentials to the women raise consciousness against their oppression and liberation of the nature.

Nelson (1990) argues that women as in the 3rd world countries are more in the ecological activism due to their deep knowledge towards the nature and these are their livelihood, for e.g., Green belt movement in Kenya

Women, Environment, Development – Eco Feminist Perspective 

The term ‘eco-feminism’, coined by French writer Francoise d’ Eaubonne in 1974, and further developed by Ynestra King in about 1976, became a movement in 1980. The first eco-feminist conference-‘Women and Life on Earth: Ecofeminism in the 80s’, at Amherst, Massachusetts, USA (Spretnak, 1990).

According to Ynestra King: Ecofeminism is about connectedness and wholeness of theory and practice… (It sees) the devastation of the earth and her being by the corporate warriors, and the threat of nuclear annihilation by the military warriors as feminist concerns. It is the same masculinity mentality which would deny us our right to our own bodies and our sexuality and which depends on multiple systems of dominance and state power to have its way (King,1983).

Plant (1989) argues that Women and nature had along association throughout the history, but only now that these deepest meaning of this association are being understood.

Quniby (1999) in her article sees Eco feminism as theory that combated ecological destruction and patriarchal domination without succumbing to totalizing impulses of masculinity politics.

Anthropologist Orture (1972) identifies man as culture and women as nature. She argues that cross-culturally and historically women are closer to nature. Their physiology, social role shows the connection with nature, whereas the men physiology leads him to engage in political affairs, hunting and travel.

In her article Merchant (1990) shows another way of relation of women and nature as a commonly used analogy as the capacity of the women for the child birth and the capacity of the earth to give birth to metals and stones with the fusion with the sun.

Nelson (1990) as women, there is an immense tie with the ecology –in our art, science, spirituality, work and everyday lives. But never always concern of the mythological ties (women as angle) or bemoan (women as eco- victim), here need to grip on the different ways of women-nature relationship emerged and want to understood how we are brutalized, made vulnerable, detached or complicit with ecological degradation.

Thus Eco feminist tries to make the relationship between women and nature. For them, oppression and subordination of women and the destruction of the nature are the result of the patriarchal and capitalist system of the society. Different eco feminist school of thought views the women’s subordination and the disturbance of the environment in different way. Merchant (1990) make the connection of disturbance of the environment and women for a different lens of the eco-feminism. The radical form of eco-feminism sees that women and nature have been mutually associated and devaluated in western culture. The scientific revolution of 17th century had degraded nature by replacing renaissance organics and a nurturing earth with the metaphor of the machine. The earth is dominated by male- developed and controlled technology, science and industry. For socialist eco-feminist, environmental problems are rooted in the rise of the capitalist patriarchy and the ideology that the earth and nature are for the human progress and for the technology. Both women and nature are exploited for the progress of men and technology. She also explains that ontology and epistemology viewed by cultural feminist are largely masculine in nature and exploited to nature and female gender. Men dominate earth and male developed technology. These male designed technologies are adversely affecting in the women’s reproductive system and the productivity of nature.

Starhawk (1990) argues that eco-feminism challenges all forms of domination, and its goal is transformation of the entire power structure towards the earth. He also argues that environmental issues are could never address without the combined perspective of women, poor and those of all part of the globe of all culture and race background.

Nelsons (1990) also make argument regarding gender discrimination in comments towards the environmental hazards. In industrial toxic accidents often comments of the male leaders are considered, where feminist activist are often neglected and isolated, and the majority has the opined that women are afraid of the industry and technology “industrial hysteria”.

There are various stands for women to participate in the movements. Shiva (1990s) says that the extension of modern western patriarchy make economic based exploitation of women and of nature and destruction of various cultures. That is why throughout history 3rd, women, peasant and tribal people are struggling for liberalism.

Shiva (1990) also shows through her article that development projects have destroyed women’s productivity by their both management and control towards the environment. Moreover, the ecological destruction, so nature’s productivity and renewability have been impaired.

Shiva,Vandana (1998). Staying Alive:  Women, Ecology and Survival in India. New Delhi: Kali for India, provides information on ecofeminist theory in India, how development and maldevelopment affect on ecology and women, what is the role of women in environment, women role in forest management and water crisis. This book provides a detailed study on how women relate to nature in different form, and what is the importance of participation of women in environment protection. Vandana shiva inter relates women and nature relation to old Hindu tradition of Shakti and Prakrti.

Eco feminist tries to make the relationship between women and nature. For them, oppression and subordination of women and the destruction of the nature are the result of the patriarchal and capitalist system of the society.  These connection and commonality of women and nature made the women make their efforts against the environmental destruction.

Women and Environmental Movement

So, did women make voice against the environmental destruction?

Historically it says yes.

Deny of their access to the nature and unconditioned destruction of the nature had given birth to various environmental and anti-developmental struggles and protest. Across the world, these movements had seen women participation and activism.

Merchant (1990) shows upside down connection between the women and biological reproduction becomes the source of the women’s empowerment and ecological activism. Women frequently spearhead local actions against industrialization and the power plants which actions have potentials to the women raise consciousness against their oppression and liberation of the nature.

Nelson (1990) argues that women as in the 3rd world countries are more in the ecological activism due to their deep knowledge towards the nature and these are their livelihood, for e.g., Green belt movement in Kenya.

Historically the In Conference of Women and Life on Earth, Gibbs (1980) opined that middle-income women became politicized in love canal issues because the canal issue adverse affects their household and children.

Jain (1984) shows a typical eco-feminist example from Indian context, which flag off the eco-feminism in the theoretical frame in Indian context. She analyzes the impact of the chipko movement among the women through her study in the Chamoli district in Garhwal division of Uttar Pradesh. The mobilization among women as against deforestation in sub- Himalayan regions and protecting the forest of that range, however made these women also to re- think of their status in the society and to make demands for their rights and privileges in the society. In addition, enable the women to stand against the men, ensure their decision making power in the society.

Karan (1994) illustrates the participation of the women in the Narmada movement in India. The women were the main participants and the leaders. The women participated more because their daily chores are directly connected to the environment and nature. So the threat of the environment at any cause immediately affects them. Therefore, they took the responsibility to community’s survival.

However, Schreurs (2001) sees the phenomena in a different lens. The women are more engage to the environmental protection, it’s not only because they knew more on the environment and more concerned about the degradation, but it also because the other areas of the society such as economic and political spheres are often dominated by male and are often considered as prohibited areas for the women by culture and by the elements of society.

In Kerala, also the Women being a part of the ground reality of the movement. Anitha (2008) shows this through her paper prepared through the fieldwork in the areas. She says that women participate in the environmental movement, where the resources are in the threat of depletion. It does not focus and question the inequality but also be the representatives of the politics for the survival.

In Kerala context, Karan (1994) explains silent valley movement, to protect the one of the few undistributed rain forest of India. Even though the movement acknowledge economics needs and the solution for the energy crisis of the state and the neighboring states, but still the community stood with the movement. The group stood up against the project with sharp focus on the ecological consequences and the extinction of various rare species in the forest range.

Whose water is it? Bjioy C.R. (2006) asks the question in his paper about the Plachimada- issue of drinking water against the mncs. The Plachimada is a remote rural village in the Chittur block of Palakkad district, who shares their broader with Kerala- Tamil Nadu, it is considered as one of the backward village, and not much connected to the mainstream community. The adivasi women were the backbone of the movement and lead the struggle not only against the mncs- the coca-cola who exploited their ground water, but they questioned and made arguments against the state government who became the instrument of the capital and not acting for the people.

Raman (2007) quotes the statement of Mayilamma, one of the prominent women protestor of the movements as “we have been living here for the past 25 years. We never went out to bring water. But today we walk a distance more than two kilometers to fetch water”. It shows that when the threat comes to the environment, the women who connected to them on a daily basis have nothing else to do other than protest against the cause.

The Narmada valley struggle challenged the concept of development, public purpose and national interest in the post independent Indian scenarios. Here the movement was not in the isolation of displacement, inequality, destruction of the natural resources and it challenged ahead and alterative for the development and for democracy ( Sangvai, S., 2000).

There are many studies about the participation of women in the environmental movement, the silent valley, Plachimada are major issues that address environment as well gender inequality. Many times these movements have not only questioned the environmental injustice, state injustice and pro-capital attitude but also the women’s position in the society. As a nutshell many of these movements had challenged the existing structure of the society and ensured the women decision making power. The domination patriarchal structural and powers and technology have been challenged by the women’s environmental movement across the globe. 

1 Merchant, C. (2006). The scientific revolution and the death of nature. Isis, 97(3), 513-533.

 

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