Ecofeminism,  Featured

How Women’s Rights and Environmental Destruction Go Hand-in-Hand

(Image courtesy of Pixabay)

We’ve got it all wrong — Our efforts to conquer nature have brought us to the brink of ecological collapse. And that’s inextricably tied to the long-abusive relationship between men and women.

Women’s bodies are battlefields in wars fought over fertile soil, land, oil, minerals, and bragging rights. Just as adolescent boys high-five each other in high school locker-rooms in the United States, bragging about “popping the cherry” of freshman girls, shooting bullets from AK-47’s into women’s vaginas in the Congo is how men conquer land — land that is ravaged for minerals to power our cell-phone and electric car batteries here in the West. 

This mentality of conquer and destroy, consume and discard, has created an ugly and vicious cycle that’s destroying the planet. It’s no coincidence that Times Up for women comes at the same time as  it is for Mother Earth. 

This is not about bashing guys, but about finding true equality for all people. It’s about entering into a mutually symbiotic relationship with each other that works in harmony with the cycles of nature, and embraces the erotic exchange between men and women (and all other genders too) as co-creators with the Earth—a relationship that is based on reverence, love, and mutual respect.

Basically, it’s about a little more lovin’ and cuddling and a little chest-thumping, for the sake of us all.

It’s about coming together as women — white, black, Hispanic, gay, transgender, and everything in between —  and supporting our sisters in the remote regions of the planet and on the front lines of our ecological battlefields. Those of us with the most power must support those with the fewest rights — including sexually reproductive freedoms— so together we can fight our global, planetary war on climate change. 

It’s about life over death. 

According to the United Nations, we must achieve gender equality if we want a sustainable planet, and this must be a priority for these women who are left furthest behind. Therefore, some of the issues I’ll be tackling in this column will focus on girls in the developing world who are forced to bear the brunt of the burden our consumption habits are causing: the girls who are raped for cobalt to power our cellphones and electric car batteries here in the West, as Stiv Wilson exposes in The Story of Stuff, the girls who must sift endlessly through our recycling that is sent to garbage dumps in Indonesia (when we think we’re sending it to a local recycling plant). 

I will tell stories of the girls in the world with the fewest sexual and reproductive rights, which now includes women in Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia, where abortion rights have recently come under attack. And of indigenous women and girls on the front lines of our ecological battles who must be lifted up to solve the ecological problems we face. For it is these women who are furthest left behind, yet most critical for a peaceful, prosperous, and ecologically sound planet.

And while I opened my first column by mentioning my rape, it is the stores of the girls who are still too traumatized to speak is where I will focus much of my effort.  My goal is that, together, we can tear this social and spiritual perversion out from its roots and heal the points of trauma upon this interconnected web of life,  and breathe new life into the planet. Yet expect pieces of my story to be embroidered throughout my work because it defines every damn-near piece of me. But this (I can finally say) I’m grateful for.

Jessica Williamson is a social impact storyteller and partnership builder who believes in the power of story to change the world. She is a writer, reporter, speaker, video producer, and on-air personality dedicated to amplifying the voices of marginalized women to create a healthy planet. She currently serves as the North American Regional Director for the World Information Transfer (WIT); an NGO in General Consultative Status with the United Nations. She urges world leaders, governments, and institutions to consider the role of women in sustainable development at global policy meetings. In her new role at Eco Chick, Jessica aims to share women’s stories and give NGO’s platform by connecting them to mainstream audiences.