The Global Rise of Black Ecofeminism
The rise of ecofeminism and the way the climate affects women across the globe has gained momentum. Read to find out how.
by Sarah Hoffman
The way climate change harms marginalized communities is still not a heavily discussed topic. However, the rise of ecofeminism and the way the climate affects women across the globe has gained momentum.
Women, trans women, and femme-presenting people are experiencing the worst impacts of climate change. In fact, the United Nations indicated that about 80 percent of the people displaced by climate change are women. Currently, various groups are taking action to not only protect our environment but also those who are suffering the most from environmental degradation.
In Africa lies the first armed, all-women anti-poaching unit known as the Akashinga. These strong women not only put their lives at risk every day to protect elephants from ivory poachers, but also empower women to play an active role in conservation. The women that make up this team are either survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, AIDs orphans, or sex workers.
In many countries, women, trans women, and femme presenting people develop a more intimate understanding of the natural world when communities play a significant role in food production and resource management. Within the first three years of its start, the Akashinga helped drive down elephant poaching across Zimbabwe’s lower Zambezi Valley region by about 80 percent.
Yet the conservation field is still largely dominated by cis-heterosexual men. In Africa, the people who identify this way account for 89% of the ranger workforce. Those who are more disproportionately affected by climate change are the ones who must not only have a seat at the table, but also become leaders within the movement.
African women, trans women, and femme-presenting people are often dealing with the burden of environmental mismanagement. These women are central in domestic food production and the preservation of diverse crops that provide a variety of foods that fall under a nutritional diet, such as spinach and cassava. Their extensive knowledge on seeds and selection, storage, and planting helps increase climate resilience in crops. From Ghana to South Africa, women-organized seed sharing collaboratives continue to resist corporate influence. Activists like Mariama Sonko help elevate womens’ voices and protect both Africa’s land and crops.
Indigenous communities are also fighting the climate crisis. Indigenous people protect 80% of global biodiversity and manage more than a quarter of the Earth’s surface and 35 of the intact forests. Indigenous women, trans women, and femme-presenting people have tremendous knowledge rooted in their cultural identities that value living in balance with nature. They also usethis knowledge to combat deforestation and ecological restoration, especially in Kenya and Colombia.
After the devastating hurricane in Honduras , 25 local women led a restoration project to protect their community from future climate events. They raised their voices to call for development models that listen to Indigenous people on how to protect their environment. The Chaski Warming of the Abya Yala, a collaborative of indigenous women from various tribes and nations, traveled to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2016 to demand for a development model that values indigenous rights and environmental justice over resource exploitation.
The Chaksi Warming of the Abya Yala often put their lives on the line by standing up to corporations that exploit indigenous land. They often face attacks and even death. Berta Caceres from Honduras was shot dead in 2016 after years of death threats linked to her protest of a dam that threatened the sacred land of the Lenca people.
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community also face the looming threats of climate change. In Africa, the LGBTQIA+ community is more likely to live in poverty with less access to basic necessities.
Within the past two years, natural disasters have hit Africa washing away homes, bridges, schools, and even neighborhoods. In the aftermath of the storms, members of the LGBTQIA+ community often face an increase in sexual violence given that they have already lost their homes, possessions, and food. The Pink Panther, an eco-feminist movement, stated that in Beira, a city destroyed by Cyclone Idai, lesbians were the most affected as they lived in poorly constructed shelters and were vulnerable to sexual violence and rape.
It is safe to say the roots of climate change intersect with various marginalized groups. The rise in ecofeminism fights for a more equitable future not only for cis women but also for trans women, femme presenting people, and the LGBTQIA+ community. Those affected by climate change all face varying degrees of discrimination from not only from society but also from environmental degradation, which is why the eco-feminist fight is important to raise awareness and provide space for those who can provide solutions that will benefit everyone.