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Ecopsychology is the study of how environmental elements (both physical and biological) interact with the physiology of living beings in their surroundings. This encompasses the impacts of weather, climate, and nutrition on both animal and plant biological processes. This interdependence is required for the establishment of a complete ecosystem. Plants are altered by external causes (environmental factors). Ecopsychology studies how plants react to environmental conditions such as drought and cold.
The study of the relationship between feminism and environment is known as ecofeminism. That is the participation of women in the fight against environmental disturbance and exploitation. Ecology is the interaction between living organisms and their environment. Apart from the environmental benefits realized from ecofeminism, it has also led to the empowerment of women in the society (Bragg, 2014).
The field of ecopsychology seeks to develop and understand ways of expanding the emotional connection between human beings and the natural world, thereby assisting individuals with developing sustainable lifestyles and remedying alienation from nature. The act of a separation of humans and nature leads to suffering both for the environment (as ecological devastation) and for humans (as grief, despair, and alienation).
Realizing the connection between humans and nature is very important for both. This reconnection includes the healing potential of contact with nature, and despair about environmental destruction, ecotherapy, and psychoemotional bonding with the world as a source of environmental action and sustainable lifestyles. A specifically ecopsychological approach would include both the psychological and the environmental aspects (Mannarino, 2014).
A major focus of ecopsychology thus far has been the integration of psychological insight into the environmental movement. The main assumption of ecopsychology is that the outer world of the environmental crisis and the cultural and political processes that support it influence our most intimate personal experiences and feelings. In turn, our states of mind find expression in the way that we relate to the natural world. The outer and inner worlds reflect and support one another, which means that a healthy ecosystem is inseparable from our health conditions (Jiménez Rodríguez, 2017).
Some cultural theorists have identified many ways that urban-industrial society creates a sense of separation from the land and steers us toward ecologically unsustainable actions. Social forces such as power and the interference of cultural diversity with other cultures undermine our ability to have meaningful, nourishing interactions with each other (Olza and MacDonnell, 2010).
Women are the most affected by climate change and other natural disasters, e.g. drought, floods, and deforestation. They, however, play a great role than men in the care and management of the environment, its sustainable development, and on matters of food security. Examples of ways through which women play a role in sustaining the environment include water conservation, efficiency in energy use, and proper waste management (Ropers-Huilman, 2011).
A report by the United Nations Developmental Programme (UNEP) in 2011, entitled “Women at the Front Line of Climate Change: Gender Risks and Hopes”, stated that use of low carbon energy sources, wood fuel alternatives, and water conservation can play a major role stabilizing climate change, hence improving the livelihood of women.
This led to the assumption that empowering women led to the sustainable development of the environmental resources (Kahn, 2013).
The Green Belt Movement in Kenya that was spearheaded by Wangari Maathai, an environmental political activist, brought about tremendous change in the environment. Women of this movement planted trees in degraded arid areas. The exploitation and degradation of the natural resources in an ecosystem is linked to the subordination and depression of women.
The Green Belt Movement has initiated many activities whose main aim was to prevent forest destruction, end poor governance, poor leadership, tribal clashes, and corruption. The main goal of the movement was to raise awareness on the importance of conserving the surrounding biodiversity. This movement focused on practical needs such as the provision of water and alternative fuel sources. The Green Belt Movement has so far led to community development through community development activities (Quartarone, 2006).
Similarities between ecopsychology and ecofeminism
Both ecopsychology and ecofeminism focus on the relationship between human and the environment (biotic and abiotic factors).
They also critically analyze the status of the human relationship and with her surroundings.
They both try to end the domination and destruction of nature.
Differences between ecopsychology and ecofeminism
Ecopsychology is male-centered and is generally spoken in one language, whereas ecofeminism is female-centered and it is generally spoken in many voices.
In ecopsychology, anthropocentrism is identified as the problem, while in ecofeminism, androcentrism is identified as the major problem.
Ecopsychology claims that ecofeminism is too shallow whereas ecofeminism claims that ecology is too shallow, and also power, and gender must beat the basis of analysis.
Women are seen to have a better knowledge of the environmental surrounding than men hence considered as experts in taking care of the environment. Also, an Indian ecofeminist by the name Shiva Venanda, argued that women are more nurturing and closer to nature, therefore they can handle and manage the environment in a more friendly way. Her efforts as an ecofeminist led to the liberation of women as women. Women and nature are connected culturally and by concept.
Ecofeminism conceives women as having the ability to bring about ecological change. Ecofeminism is also seen trying to rank women by emphasizing their close association with nature. World ecofeminists through their writings and activities were able to instigate and motivate women to become the agents of change by taking part in liberation movements e.g. The Green Belt Movement.
Environmental feminists argue that the political economy alters a community’s social interaction with nature, whereby one that treats nature like a commodity. Ecofeminism seeks to explore the effects of the persistent cultural practices present in the society. Nature and the female gender, when concurrently oppressed within these cultures are therefore interrelated. Ecofeminism maintains that there is a bond which exists between the oppression of women and the domination of nature by ignorant society. The major concern of ecofeminism is the oppression of gender, race, and nature that are over-exploited with culturally justified dominations.
Through their collective contributions and labour, women can generate income for the group members through formation credit schemes. These funds can be used to sustain and maintain the environment (Reser and Bragg, 2012).
Wangari Maathai, an ecofeminist views are on The Green Belt Movement and the emancipation of women in environment sustenance throughout the agricultural cycles in their farms.
Involvement in women environmental organizations such as The Green Belt Movement has tremendously enabled women to meet their domestic needs and also meet the challenge of increased involvement in the market. Women have also taken on leadership roles, working as foresters, planning and also implementing community environmental projects for water harvesting, hence enhancing food security.
Many ecofeminists advocate some form of a nurturing band caring the environmental ethic to curb the oppression of women and nature by men. Such an ethic recognizes and embraces the multiple voices of women differentiated by race, class, age and ethnicity. An ecofeminist ethical perspective grounded in care and nurturing is pluralist, inclusive and contextual and thus constrains traditional ethics that are based on rules and utilitarian gender roles.
Bragg, E. (2014). Activist Ecopsychology. Ecopsychology, 6(1), pp.16-18.
Jiménez Rodríguez, A. (2017). “Strange Coupling”: Vegan Ecofeminism and Queer Ecologies in Theory and in Practice CHAPTER 1: A Brief Survey of the Field of Ecofeminism. Revista de Lenguas Modernas, (25).
Kahn, P. (2013). Revisioning Ecopsychology: Perspectives from the Community. Ecopsychology, 5(4), pp.207-211.
Mannarino, M. (2014). A Beautiful Mess: Embracing the Complexity of Ecopsychology. Ecopsychology, 6(1), pp.32-34.
Olza, I. and MacDonnell, S. (2010). Ecopsychology and the Human Newborn. Ecopsychology, 2(2), pp.105-109.
Quartarone, L. (2006). Teaching Vergil's "Aeneid" through Ecofeminism. The Classical World, 99(2), p.177.
Reser, J. and Bragg, E. (2012). An Editorial Note: Climate Change and Ecopsychology in Australia. Ecopsychology, 4(4), pp.266-268.
Ropers-Huilman, R. (2011). Editorial Introduction: Ecofeminism. Feminist Formations, 23(2), p.viii-xii.
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