Women might make up more than half the Earth’s human population, but we often bear the brunt of the same sorts of policies and destructive ways of thinking that are responsible for global climate change.
Do those things seem unrelated? Well, they’re not, which is why International Women’s Day is a perfect time to remember that the systems that degrade the planet are also the ones that oppress women.
Eve Ensler, the artist and activist behind The Vagina Monologues, connected the dots between abusing the planet and abusing women last month in this interview with Grist, where she called out the global economy’s destructive “pressing rape mentality, which has to do with the powerful getting what they want at the expense of the person they’re taking it from, without an awareness of reciprocity or mutuality.”
From former Prime Minister of Norway and Director-General of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland, writing at Fast Co.Exist:
Conflict and environmental degradation compound the problem in many contexts, leaving women even more vulnerable to violence. Soldiers and militias commonly use rape as a weapon of war. As climate change affects the availability of water, food and firewood, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, women have to travel longer distances to fetch supplies, putting them at greater risk of molestation, harassment, rape and beatings.
We cannot treat these issues in isolation; they are part of a bigger picture of systemic discrimination against women.
Policies that help the planet — such as family planning and flexible and remote work — also stand to help ladies maybe even more than guys (don’t whine too much, dudes, they’re good for you too). And this time, a lot of women are pushing back and vowing not to be left behind yet again. They’re taking the bike lanes, remaking cities, and leading the Idle No More movement (march tomorrow, Toronto!) all in the name of sustainability and equality.
I’d like to end this on a special IWD shout-out to the Ovarian Psycos women of color bike brigade in Los Angeles. “This is our own way of protesting,” says one member. “We think our bicycles are a revolutionary concept.”