Today, on the International Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, Friends of the Earth activists are taking to the streets in Brussels to demand women’s rights and bodily autonomy and the right to abortion for women across all European countries and around the world.
Abortion is still banned in Ireland and Malta, and highly restricted in Hungary and Poland. Elsewhere, even where access to abortion is legally guaranteed, it can still be denied in practice through the closure of abortion providers and funding cuts for expert staff. And in all countries the right to abortion is regularly threatened as right-wing reactionary politicians gain influence and use women’s rights as bargaining chips to win the support of conservative sectors of society.
While the laws governing abortion in Europe are currently controlled by member states, the World March of Women are calling on the European Parliament today to ensure access to safe and legal abortion in all European countries. Friends of the Earth Europe supports this campaign and stands in solidarity with all women across Europe in their struggles for autonomy and the right to make decisions over their bodies, fertility, lives and work. We are committed to organising for gender justice and the dismantling of the patriarchal system, since we know that all liberation struggles are connected to one another in our fight for environmental justice and system change.
On Saturday, 300,000 women in Ireland will march to repeal legislation that criminalises abortion, and call for reproductive justice. Below, three activists from the Irish Ecofeminist Collective and Young Friends of the Earth Ireland share how the feminist movement for women’s bodily autonomy is deeply connected to the struggle for environmental justice.
“In Ireland on 30th of September, I will be marching with the Irish Eco-feminist Collective for a woman’s right to choose.
Ecofeminism is a theory which views the belief in a right to dominate others stems from the belief in an inherent right to exploit and dominate the earth and other species. To me, an ecofeminist perspective on the right to choose comes from US black feminist activism which calls for a right to reproductive justice. To paraphrase the words of Sister Song, reproductive justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, sexual and economic well-being of all people, based on the full achievement and protection of the human rights of the marginalised.
It incorporates a right to a safe and stable climate, a clean environment, a right to housing, a right to your sexuality, social welfare, and structural actions by Government to erode inequality. All these rights are steadily eroded by the pursuit of profit at severe costs to human and environmental life.
As an eco-feminist I fear a world where climate change makes ‘the good life’ impossible for everyone but the rich and the powerful. A world of poisoned rivers, earth and air, where only the wealthy can afford to protect and provide for their loved ones. A world where land rights are for the few, owned by a 1% hiding behind militarised borders on higher ground.
Feminism has been massively influential in shaping the conversations around climate change. One example is Naomi Klein, who describes herself as a ‘secular Jewish feminist’. In an incredibly short space of time her book ‘This Changes Everything’ has pushed the mainstream Green Movement to recognize how structural inequalities caused, and prevent the solution to, climate change. After her work to build a ‘Leap Manifesto’ with groups from across the political spectrum it now seems inconceivable that environmentalists called for the end of fossil fuel jobs without offering viable alternatives. We need to move fast, but we won’t get there to the good life without taking people with us.
It’s time to re-orient our economy and our ideologies to, as eco-feminist Donna Haraway says, “Make Kin”. We must fight against our alienation from each other and other forms of life. Fight against the false separation from our living world and fight to create an economy and society that reflects the mutually beneficial interdependence of our life on earth.”
“Campaigning for environmental justice isn’t only about protecting nature. It encompasses a recognition that the troubles our planet is facing stem from a patriarchal, capitalist view of how things should be, a view that subjugates both women and nature. Feminism and valuing the environment cannot be disentangled. Exploitation, dominance, subordination, oppression. All have been used as tools to destroy the environment and diminish women in society. The environment is not ours to plunder. Likewise, the lives of women should be determined by our own choices, not those of unjust governments.”
“I am an ecofeminist, not because I believe women have some essentialist, natural link to the environment, but because the under the oppressive system of capitalist patriarchy women and nature are exploited, subjugated and objectified in the same way. It is the same system that strips women of their bodily autonomy and reproductive rights that violates the environment, a system of destruction in pursuit of profit. A system that turns women, nature, non-westerners, workers and indigenous people into the passive Other, that can be exploited. Socialized gender roles mean women and men have a different interaction with the environment, making it crucial we look at climate change through a gendered lens. Environmental justice and gender justice go hand in hand because the root cause of these issues is the same.