Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.  Throughout the day I've seen various articles and comments about this event on Facebook and other places on the Internet.  One that I found interesting is on Treehugger.  The headline is "Women have been at the heart of environmentalism for 50 years".  I hadn't really thought about that but it's true.  Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, and Vandana Shiva are just three of many women who have helped advance the cause for many years.

When you think about it, it makes sense that women would be among those in the forefront of the environmental movement.  Women have enjoyed a long history of interacting closely with their environment as they tended kitchen gardens or raised a flock of chickens in the backyard.  In our society especially, women are socialized in such a way as to encourage traits such as attachment, empathy and care which easily translate into caring for the environment.

If you want to read something interesting, take a look at this article detailing how global warming disproportionately affects women, despite that fact women have a smaller carbon footprint because more women live in poverty than men.

In recent years there has been a surge in interest in natural foods amongst many of the women I know.  As they begin to research healthy ways to feed their families, they are often confronted with environmental issues as well.  Someone decides to grow a garden in order to obtain fresh produce at a reasonable cost and in the process learns about heavy metal soil contaminants and their sources.  Another discovers that chemicals in food packaging are suspect and that those same chemicals may be in their children's toys.  One thing leads to another and pretty soon another amateur environmentalist is created.

Women are often especially good at sharing information and forming relationships based upon common interests.  Social networking has been a boon to this natural tendency and it's now easier than ever for women to share what they've learned about any number of interests.  It's been fascinating to see this in action on Facebook.  My daughter, Lisa, is an environmentalist/activist who often uses Facebook as a platform for sharing information.  I often share some of her writings on my page, thus spreading information to people she might not otherwise come in contact with.  I know others share her work as well in an ever-widening circle of influence.  Many, many women are doing the same thing via Facebook and/or blogs.  I believe we are going to see a virtual explosion in the number of women who not only begin to seriously consider their own impact on the environment but also decide to take on the role of activist.

We are also seeing a home-based lifestyle movement beginning to gain momentum in this country as evidenced by the surge in vegetable gardens, backyard chicken flocks and a resurgence of "old-fashioned" hobbies like knitting and baking bread.  There is tremendous overlap between interests like these and the desire to live a low-impact lifestyle.  I believe these trends will continue to grow and women will be the agents of change this world needs.

"Living simply has resulted in us becoming more aware 
of the environment and the impact we have on it.
~Catherine Pulsifer


Cherie said...

Thank you for another good post - and for mentioning some of my personal heroes.

You are so right that women are the key to the future of our planet. Another of my heroes, Greg Mortensen, realizes this and focuses on the girls when he builds schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Here's a link to a website you'll appreciate: http://www.girleffect.org.

Deanna said...

Cherie, I couldn't get the video to work but I'm saving it and will try in another browser. I don't want to downplay the role of men in society but that really isn't an issue, is it? ;) As my grandmother, and so many others have said, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." Women may not get the credit they deserve and our roles may not always be the ones in the limelight but they are vital to making our world the sort of place people want to live in.