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Threat to Women's Environmental Rights Defenders

Threat to Women’s Environmental Rights Defenders

In this 3rd episode on this 30 days of activism in spotlighting women's resilience in climate action, an initiative and campaign by I lead Climate Action -  ahead of this year’s international women’s day, Daria Grushevsky talks about threats that women environmental defenders are faced with in the bid to protect the land from further degradation or exploitation. In some parts of the world, it could be dangerous being an environmental rights defender. I wondered why we should be threatened for fighting life threatening issues such as climate change rather than us creating a workable means of solving environmental issues. This risk differs from one country to another from government down to local level. After all, we are all fighting for a secured environment for everyone and not just for one person only. Nobody should be threatened nor murdered in the cause of trying to protect our environment because the realities of climate change are life threatening. When women are acting beyond the gender role that is; breaking the bias, some people could see it as a threat in what she is fighting for. And when women are passionate, they do whatever it takes to get just. No one deserves to be threatened or killed when we are all trying to defend our environment from further degradation. It is our collective responsibility to protect our environment. If we respect environmental rights then we will do the same to human rights because women are always the first victim in every environmental instabilities.

Moreso, it is time to listen to the voices of those communities that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and not threatening their lives because we are speaking up. Every life matters toward winning the race against the climate crisis. According to Martin Luther King, our lives begin to end when we become silent about those things that matter. You might not be affected by the changing climate but your next generation might not escape it. Hence, governments at all levels need to expand policies and laws that create safe places for everyone’s right to be protected. Therefore, defending our environment in a dangerous condition could affect climate progress and a threat towards democracy. The ability to speak and be listening defines what we are seeking justice for. This is also call for a green democracy

Climate crisis and environmental degradation heighten inequality and target the most vulnerable segments like women, children, indigenous people, the elderly, and the extremely poor. According to a global overview; currently, 21% of environmental conflict cases highlight the role of women as leaders in those conflicts, because women are being disproportionately affected by environmental and health impacts. Many of these women also face harassment and killings.


The involvement of women in decision-making processes over environmental issues is a crucial part to promote their rights. Also, a policy brief environmental human rights defender says; “are aware of good practices when women have endorsed their participation in discussions about the environment.” That’s a 1998 South Africa’s National Environmental Act and the Feminist Participatory Action Research programme of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development in the Philippines. But in many countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa, women’s contribution to the feminist environmental movement is often undervalued, and they can be punished for acting beyond restrictive gendered norms.


It is also wrong to think about women environmental defenders as low-income and badly-educated women. The majority of feminist environmentalists are well-educated and environmentally conscious. Despite different personalities, circumstances, countries, advocacy methods - a general pattern of violence remains the same. Likewise, women environmental defenders usually ally with a large network to protect the environment, males try to undervalue women's contributions, and murders usually go unpunished. The difference between women’s environmental activism and the man-lead one is that women, protecting the environment and claiming human rights enforcement, often think about the next generations. Environmental problems cannot be solved with one warrior.


Host: Oladosu Adenike - an ecofeminist., climate justice activist and an eco-reporter. She’s the founder of I Lead Climate Action Initiative.

Guest: Daria Grushevsky is an environmental human rights defender, environmental conflicts observer and eco-blogger.


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