Ecofeminism: Lessons from Nigeria

By Johnson, Kofi; Oyinade, R Babatunde | Gender & Behaviour, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Ecofeminism: Lessons from Nigeria


Johnson, Kofi; Oyinade, R Babatunde, Gender & Behaviour


Ecofeminism represents the union of the radical ecology movement or what has been called "deep ecology" and feminism.

Introduction

What is ecofeminism? According to Reuther, (1997) "Ecofeminism" represents the union of the radical ecology movement, or what has been called 'deep ecology' and feminism. The word "ecology" emerges from the biological science of natural systems. It examines how they become disrupted. These natural communities function to sustain a healthy web of life and how they become disrupted causing death to plant and animal life. Human intervention is obviously one of the main causes of such disruption. Thus sprang ecology as a field of study that combined socio-economic and biology to examine how the human use of nature is causing the pollution of the soil, air, water, as well as threatening the destruction of the natural base of life on which the human communities systems of plants and animals are depend upon.

The word eco-feminism was coined by Francoise DTSeaubonne (1974) in her book Le Feminism Ou la Mort (Feminism or Death) which was published in 1974. Some feminists such as Ynestra King (1990) believe that ecofeminism is a third way of feminism, while others place it in the general category of deep ecology. What should be said is that ecofeminism varied; there is no one accepted or orthodox ecofeminism. Among those speaking for ecofeminism are: Rosemary Radford Reuther (1997), Ivone Gebara, Vandana Shiva, Susan Griffin, Alice Walker, Sallie McFague, Luisah Teish, Sun Paula Gunn Allen, Monica Sjoo, Greta Gaard, Karen Warren, Andy Smith, and many others (Quoted by Ruether 1997). Adherents cut across all races, and all academic disciplines.

What many of them have in common is that all forms of oppression are connected and that structures of oppression must be addressed in their totality. They see this socially constructed oppression formed out the power dynamics of patriarchal systems. Apart from being varied, there are numerous theories being floated and developed under the premise of "ecofeminism" which is grounded in the ties of body, spirituality, fertility, and female reproduction (Wilson, 2005). The common goal of ecofeminism is to end the oppression and domination of both women and nature. More importantly, ecofeminism is a movement whose aim is to raise the consciousness of women to the decay of the earth. They see this decay of the earth as one and the same drama as the violation of women. Many of ecofeminists see environmental issue to be defended.

The research questions are: What makes the environmental a feminist issue? What is the parallel between the domination of women and the domination of nature? Why is this important to feminism, environmentalism, and environmental philosophy? It in answering these questions would tell us what ecofeminism is all about (Warren, 1991).

Objectives

This paper examines the genesis of ecofeminism, different strands of ecofeminism and the lesson learned from Nigerian experience. In Nigeria, women have been actors of change. For example, Nigerian market women have championed good governance in Nigeria with their coordinated protests to affect changes. The paper argues that for ecofeminism to be successful in combating ecological justice in Nigeria there must be an alliance between men, women and international ecofeminists. The discussion is divided into three sections. The first part defines ecofeminism. The second part outlines different strands of ecofeminist, and the third part deals with Nigerian experience with Big Oil or international oil exploration companies and lesson learned. The study concludes with the future trend.

Ecofeminism is lacking in certain areas because it is made of interdisciplinary movement when one thinks of it as a social movement. A social movement engages in a well organized direct action. However, ecofeminism is a conscious raising thought idea calling on women to work closely with men concerning healing and communion with nature. …

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