Women and the Climate Change Crisis: Effects and Empowerment

Authors: Julie Gorecki*, University of California - Berkeley Press
Topics: Gender, Women, Environment
Keywords: Women, Gender, Race, Class, Feminism, Racial Capitalism, Patriarchy, Colonialism, Settler Colonialism, Climate, Climate Crisis, Environment, Climate Justice, Gender Justice, Racial Justice, Environmental Justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Committee Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Climate change is wielding a distinct gender bias. Indigenous women and women of the Global South in particular are bearing the disproportionate burdens of climate change. Affected women have organized an international contingent of “Women for Climate Justice,” positioned at the forefront of the global climate justice movement. Also known as “climate women,” they advocate that there can be “no climate justice without gender justice” (Gorecki 2014). Drawing on extensive ethnographies and interviews, my paper examines the struggles of climate women to better understand how and why climate change so disproportionately impacts them. I also look at how women are simultaneously proving to be primary actors in effective climate change mitigation. In turn, this paper emphasizes how women’s empowerment and climate mitigation are intimately linked on a global scale.

My work is grounded in theoretical questions regarding the relationship between Racial Capitalism, Patriarchy and the Environment (Robinson 1983; Pulido 2016). Many ecological feminist scholars have long contended that nature cannot be liberated without liberating women. They’ve affirmed that capitalism’s founding ideology of continuous growth—materialized as the infinite extraction of finite natural resources—has been necessitated by the coincident subordination of women, racialized and marginalized communities, and nature. They reference this interdependent subordination as the “Capitalist Patriarchy—” a global “anti-woman” system founded on the exploitation of women’s power, bodies and labor (Merchant 1980; Mies 1984; Gunn Allen 1986; Mies & Shiva 1993; Muta Maathai, 2003; Federici 2004; Smith 2005; Anderson 2010).

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