Envisioning a Feminist Earth: African women lead the way
A feminist just earth, as expressed by Bridget Burns of WEDO, ‘is a world centred on recognition and care for ourselves, for others and for mother earth’.
As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, it is imperative that we actively and consciously devise ways of protecting the health of our planet. The environmental challenges before us today are prompting us to view our development through an environmental health lens. They also highlight the fact that we need to change the way we live, work, relate to one another and interact with the outside world. It is clear that our current development model is unsustainable, and is taking a heavy toll on the earth and her lifeforms. If we continue to take our natural environment for granted and continue to produce, consume and power our lives the way we do now, forests, oceans and weather systems soon will be overwhelmed and rendered incapable of supporting life as we know it.
The lives of the majority of African women, especially rural poor women are closely connected to the environment as a result of their livelihoods being largely dependent on natural resources. In cognisance of this, feminists and women’s rights organisations in Africa have undertaken various innovative and community driven interventions to forestall unsustainable agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure projects, mining and energy. All of these have resulted in unprecedented biodiversity loss, habitat degradation, over-exploitation, pollution and climate change which have negatively affected the livelihoods of rural women.
AWDF is a strong advocate of sustainable livelihoods through women’s innovation and local response and has supported several women-driven local initiatives to address environmental degradation.
CAEPA Cameroon, with support from AWDF, galvanised over 1000 rural women within 6 communities in Bamenda to re-vegetate marginal lands through agro-forestry systems with fast growing tree species. The wood lots serve to enrich soil cover, ameliorate local climate, provide fodder for livestock and energy for cooking. CAEPA Cameroon has also mobilised about 1500 young environmental feminists in 6 schools within Bamenda to join in the re-vegetation drive. As a result, the schools have incorporated re-afforestation in extra curriculum activities and have re-vegetated about 200 hectares of marginal land within their respective communities.
Another partner, Iseguri Initiative in the Oti Region of Ghana has supported rural women smallholder farmers in organic agriculture and agroforestry practices. Over 2000 rural women smallholder farmers have adopted such practices to improve their farming activities, boost their income and rejuvenate marginal land for farming.
African Gender and Extractives Alliance (WoMin) worked tirelessly to strengthen the voices of marginalised women in resource rich communities to advocate against extractives and large-scale infrastructure projects.
African women have always played a critical role in managing natural resources, and are also the most affected by environmental degradation. As a feminist organisation, AWDF believes in the power of solidarity to radically transform our world into a feminist earth. Environmental issues are feminist issues and must be prioritised by all.
Happy Earth Week!
(This article is also published on www.awdf.org )
By Rose Buabeng, Programme Officer, AWDF