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Conservation as Enclosure: An Ecofeminist Perspective on Sustainable Development and Biopiracy in Costa Rica


Isla, Ana. 2005. “Conservation as Enclosure: An Ecofeminist Perspective on Sustainable Development and Biopiracy in Costa Rica.” Capitalism Nature Socialism 16 (3): 49–61.

Author: Ana Isla


"This paper argues that the rhetoric of sustainable development reinforces the power and reach of global capitalism. Using the language of conservation, industry, large environmental NGOs, and local government elites are sacrificing the survival of forest peoples to capital accumulation. Enclosures of common lands for the purpose of bioprospecting liquidate the customary claims of forest ownership. As a result, conservation as enclosure suppresses the human rights of local communities and the rights of nature. In this process, campesinos and indigenous people are impoverished as their local environments move from abundance to scarcity in a commodified world, and they themselves become displaced, marginalized, even criminalized, and unwaged in a waged global world. Women lose their autonomy in gender and development programs that claim to promote equality by including them in the international market. They are pushed into capitalized biotech micro-enterprises, become indebted, overextend their work time, and substitute family food production for the cultivation of medicinal plants—all for less than a minimum wage. By these predatory programs, a vulnerable local nature and vulnerable local women are tied into the world economy, not for conservation or emancipation, but to be exploited for capital accumulation" (Isla 2005, 13-4).

Topics: Development, Environment, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Indigenous, Rights, Human Rights, Indigenous Rights Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Costa Rica

Year: 2005

John P. Clark’s ‘Ecofeminist Lessons for Social Ecology'


Dordoy, Alan, and Mary Mellor. 2001. “John P. Clark’s ‘Ecofeminist Lessons for Social Ecology.’” Capitalism Nature Socialism 12 (1): 92–98.

Authors: Alan Dordoy, Mary Mellor


"In an earlier contribution to the journal, John Clark sought a dialogue between social ecology and ecosocialism and his paper is to be welcomed for extending that dialogue to ecofeminism. We have many points of agreement with Clark’s overall perspective: the need to recognize the dialectical relationship between the social and ecological aspects of human existence; the severity of the ecological crisis we face; he need for a radical response based on egalitarian principles; the role of grassroots, indigenous and other radical movements for environmental and social justice; the centrality of incorporating issues around gender. We also have points at which we diverge, in particular around his interpretation of the dialectical relationship between humanity and nature and his focus upon the care ethic as the most important insight from ecofeminism" (Dordoy and Mellor 2001, 92).

Topics: Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gender, Indigenous

Year: 2001

Gender, Power, and Mobility among the Awá-Guajá (Maranhão, Brazil)


Hernando, Almudena, Gustavo Politis, Alfredo González Ruibal, and Elizabeth Beserra Coelho. 2011. “Gender, Power, and Mobility among the Awá-Guajá (Maranhão, Brazil).” Journal of Anthropological Research 67 (2): 189–211.

Authors: Almudena Hernando, Gustavo Politis, Alfredo González Ruibal, Elizabeth Beserra Coelho


The Awá (also known as Guajá) are hunter-gatherers whose way of life prior to their first contact with Brazilian society has been altered after relocation to a reservation. Basically, their mobility is reduced and they have been forced to start cultivation. Although these changes are beginning to affect women's social role, the traditional power relationships can still be inferred from the present conditions. The aim of this paper is twofold: (1) to argue that, in otherwise "egalitarian" societies, the differences in physical mobility involved in the complementary tasks carried out by men and women may account for gender inequality on the symbolic domain, given that mobility is a key factor in the construction of personhood in contexts of "relational, "non-individualized identity; and (2) to check the validity of that assumption in the light of fieldwork data about gender relationships among the Awá-Guajá.

Topics: Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Indigenous Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Brazil

Year: 2011

A Radical Revision of the Public Health Response to Environmental Crisis in a Warming World: Contributions of Indigenous Knowledges and Indigenous Feminist Perspectives


Lewis, Diana, Lewis Williams, and Rhys Jones. 2020. “A Radical Revision of the Public Health Response to Environmental Crisis in a Warming World: Contributions of Indigenous Knowledges and Indigenous Feminist Perspectives.” Canadian Journal of Public Health 111 (6): 897–900.

Authors: Diana Lewis, Lewis Williams, Rhys Jones


Indigenous peoples have long been successful at adapting to climatic and environmental changes. However, anthropogenic climatic crisis represents an epoch of intensified colonialism which poses particular challenges to Indigenous peoples throughout the world, including those in wealthier ‘modern’ nation states. Indigenous peoples also possess worldviews and traditional knowledge systems that are critical to climate mitigation and adaptation, yet, paradoxically, these are devalued and marginalized and have yet to be recognized as essential foundations of public health. In this article, we provide an overview of how public health policy and discourse fails Indigenous peoples living in the colonial nation states of Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand. We argue that addressing these systemic failures requires the incorporation of Indigenous knowledges and Indigenous feminist perspectives beyond superficial understandings in public health-related climate change policy and practice, and that systems transformation of this nature will in turn require a radical revision of settler understandings of the determinants of health. Further, public health climate change responses that centre Indigenous knowledges and Indigenous feminist perspectives as presented by Indigenous peoples themselves must underpin from local to global levels.
Les peuples autochtones ont de tout temps réussi à s’adapter aux changements du climat et de leur environnement. La crise climatique anthropogène constitue toutefois une époque de colonialisme intensifié qui pose des difficultés particulières aux peuples autochtones du monde entier, y compris ceux des États-nations riches et « modernes ». Les peuples autochtones possèdent aussi des visions du monde et des systèmes de savoir traditionnels indispensables aux efforts d’atténuation et d’adaptation au changement climatique; paradoxalement, ces visions et systèmes sont dévalués et marginalisés et ne sont pas encore reconnus comme étant des bases essentielles de la santé publique. Dans cet article, nous expliquons en général en quoi les politiques et le discours de la santé publique laissent sur le carreau les peuples autochtones vivant dans les États-nations coloniaux du Canada et d’Aotearoa (la Nouvelle-Zélande). Nous faisons valoir que pour aborder ces échecs systémiques, il faut intégrer les savoirs autochtones et les perspectives féministes autochtones au-delà d’une compréhension superficielle des politiques et des pratiques de santé publique relatives au changement climatique, et qu’une telle transformation des systèmes exigera en retour une révision radicale des savoirs coloniaux sur les déterminants de la santé. Plus encore, les ripostes de la santé publique au changement climatique, que ce soit à l’échelle locale ou mondiale, doivent être centrées sur les savoirs autochtones et les perspectives féministes autochtones tels que présentés par les peuples autochtones eux-mêmes.

Keywords: public health, climate change, indigenous, competencies, feminist, santé publique, changement climatique, autochtones, compétences, féminisme

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Health, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Regions: Americas, Oceania Countries: Canada, New Zealand

Year: 2020

The Nature of Women, Peace and Security: A Colombian Perspective


Yoshida, Keina, and Lina M Céspedes-Báez. 2021. “The Nature of Women, Peace and Security: A Colombian Perspective.” International Affairs 97 (1): 17–34.

Authors: Keina Yoshida, Lina M Céspedes-Báez


On 12 November 2019, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), handed down a landmark decision in the case of ‘Katsa Su’ concerning the Awa indigenous group in Colombia. The Colombian conflict has particularly affected indigenous groups, such as the Awa people, and has also affected the territory in which they live. In this article, we explore the decision of the JEP, within a broader analysis of the Colombian peace agreement and consider how it might help us to think about the place of the environment in the Women, Peace and Security agenda and in international law. We call for a gendered and intersectional approach to environmental peacebuilding which is attentive to the importance of gender and different groups. Further, we highlight how the Colombian example shows how concepts such as relief, recovery and reparations are often confined in international law to women's recovery and redress with respect to sexual violence and yet, this conceptualization should be much broader. The Katsa Su case provides an example of the fact that reparations and redress must address other forms of violence, spiritual and ecological, which women also suffer in times of conflict.

Keywords: Americas, Energy and Environment, International Governance, Law and Ethics, conflict, Security and Defence

Topics: Conflict, Environment, Gender, Women, Indigenous, Infrastructure, Energy, International Law, Peacebuilding, Security, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, Violence Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2021

Toward a Feminist Care Ethic for Climate Change


Allison, Elizabeth. 2017. “Toward a Feminist Care Ethic for Climate Change.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 33 (2): 152 -8. 

Author: Elizabeth Allison

Keywords: adaptation, climate care, climate ethics, feminist care ethics, indigenous knowledge


“Climate change adaptation studies often highlight the specific vulnerabilities of women, particularly those living in developing countries. Among the particular burdens falling more heavily on women are poverty; residence on marginal land susceptible to subsidence, erosion, or flooding; precarious and informal employment; increasing exposure to waterborne and vector-borne disease. Drought requires female water collectors to walk farther with each passing year, during which journeys they can be subject to harassment and abuse and must forego school, employment, and other sorts of productive activities. Attention to these considerations pertaining to women’s specific vulnerabilities is essential in mapping pathways to address climate change. These considerations are intensified when we consider women’s disproportionate caring responsibilities for children and the elderly. Ensuring that women and girls have expansive opportunities to express their full capacities will become more difficult in a climate-destabilized world. Because of these disproportionate vulnerabilities, climate change is indisputably a feminist issue, and the tools of feminist analysis can provide valuable leverage in developing just and equitable responses to this existential challenge” (Allison 2017, 152).

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Year: 2017

Lost and Found Crops: Agrobiodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge, and a Feminist Political Ecology of Sorghum and Finger Millet in Northern Malawi


Kerr, Rachel Bezner. 2011. “Lost and Found Crops: Agrobiodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge, and a Feminist Political Ecology of Sorghum and Finger Millet in Northern Malawi.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104 (3): 577-93.

Author: Rachel Bezner Kerr


This article tells the story of two indigenous, drought-tolerant grains, finger millet and sorghum, once grown in northern Malawi. Sorghum essentially disappeared from the landscape, replaced by maize. Finger millet persisted, despite being discouraged by colonial and postcolonial governments, but is now in decline. This case study of these two crops in northern Malawi uses data from in-depth interviews, focus groups, archival documents, and observations. I suggest that sorghum almost disappeared due to a combination of maize promotion, male migration, and pest problems. An upsurge of tobacco production, in part due to neoliberal policies, combined with gender dynamics that favor maize are reducing finger millet production. Drawing on theories of feminist political ecology, resilience, and indigenous knowledge, I argue that agrobiodiversity and related indigenous knowledge are situated in material and gendered practices. Efforts to improve social resilience in these vulnerable regions need to pay attention to processes and the intersectionality of gender, class, and other subjectivities at different scales that produce particular agricultural practices and knowledge in a given place.

Este artículo relata la historia de dos granos indígenas adaptados a la sequía, el millo (mijo) perla y el sorgo, que tradicionalmente han sido cultivados en la parte norte de Malawi. El sorgo esencialmente desapareció del paisaje, remplazado por el maíz. El millo perla persistió, pese a que su cultivo fue desestimulado por los gobiernos colonial y poscolonial, pero ahora está en declive. El estudio de caso sobre estas dos cosechas en el norte de aquel país utiliza datos generados en entrevistas a profundidad, grupos focales, documentos de archivo y observaciones de campo. Pienso que el sorgo casi desapareció debido a las campañas de promoción del maíz, combinadas con otros factores como la migración de varones y problemas de plagas. En lo que se refiere al millo perla, su producción se ha reducido por la competencia de la reactivación de cultivos de tabaco, debida en parte a políticas neoliberales, combinado todo esto con dinámicas de género que favorecen el cultivo del maíz. A partir de teorías de ecología política feminista, resiliencia y conocimiento indígena, arguyo que la agro-biodiversidad y el conocimiento indígena pertinente son factores situacionales en las prácticas de materialidad y género. Los esfuerzos para mejorar la resiliencia social en estas regiones vulnerables deben poner atención sobre los procesos y la interseccionalidad de género, clase y otras subjetividades, a diferentes escalas, que producen prácticas agrícolas particulares y conocimiento en un lugar dado.

Keywords: feminist political ecology, gender, indigenous knowledge, Malawi, resilience, ecología política feminista, conocimiento indígena, resiliencia

Topics: Agriculture, Class, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Economies, Feminisms, Feminist Political Ecology, Gender, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi

Year: 2011

Gender Inequality and Land Rights: The Situation of Indigenous Women in Cameroon


Njieassam, Esther Effundem. 2019. “Gender Inequality and Land Rights: The Situation of Indigenous Women in Cameroon”. PER: Potchefstroomse Elektroniese Regsblad 22 (1): 1–33.

Author: Esther Effundem Njieassam


Land is an essential resource that serves as a means of subsistence for millions of people in the world and indigenous communities and women in particular. Most indigenous societies' survival is closely tied to land. In Cameroon, indigenous women are the backbone of food production in their communities. That makes access to land important, as it is a significant source of wealth and power for indigenous peoples in general and indigenous women in particular. While women all over the world encounter gender-based discrimination in relation to the control and ownership of land, indigenous women face triple discrimination on the basis of their gender (as women), their ethnicity (as indigenous peoples) and their economic class (economically poor). They are often dehumanised, degraded and subjected to treatment as second-class human beings despite the existence of national legislation that discourages such practices. This paper interrogates the possibility of including indigenous women in government and decision-making processes in Cameroon in the hope that they may be involved in key decision-making processes that affect them, thereby reducing their economic and social vulnerability. It concludes with some thoughtful recommendations on policy reform aimed at ensuring access to land for indigenous women as well as socio-economic justice in its broadest sense. 

Keywords: indigenous women, gendered-based discrimination, land rights, gender inequality, decision-making, participation, Cameroon

Topics: Class, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Indigenous, Rights, Indigenous Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Cameroon

Year: 2019

Gender Roles and Practices in Natural Resource Management Among the Kilosa Maasai in Tanzania


Massoi, Lucy W. 2019. “Gender Roles and Practices in Natural Resource Management Among the Kilosa Maasai in Tanzania.” Tanzania Journal of Development Studies 17 (1): 102-16.

Author: Lucy W. Massoi


This article empirically describes gender roles and practices in natural resource management among the pastoral Maasai society of Kilosa, Tanzania. Through a qualitative approach, a descriptive case study design was adopted to collect and analyse data using content analysis. Results show that gender roles and practice in land management is gender differentiated. There is a strong patriarchal system in Maasai societies that govern access to, and use of, land. Women have limited access/ownership to land and have to seek permission from men to use land. In this regard, the hardest hit are women who use land without having independent access or muscles for negotiating due to existing norms and values that license their exclusion. The article argues that unless customary practices are addressed, women issues will remain unchanged given the presence of a male-centred customary practice built on strong patriarchal system that side-lines women in land management.

Keywords: gender, gender roles, natural resource management, pastoral Maasai women

Topics: Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Patriarchy, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 2019

The Role of Women in Early REDD+ Implementation: Lessons for Future Engagement


Larson, A. M., T. Dokken, A. E. Duchelle, S. Atmadja, I. A. P. Resosudarmo, P. Cronkleton, M. Cromberg, W. Sunderlin, A. Awono, and G. Selaya. 2015. “The Role of Women in Early REDD+ Implementation: Lessons for Future Engagement.” The International Forestry Review 17 (1): 43–65.

Authors: A. M. Larson, T. Dokken, A. E. Duchelle, S. Atmadja, I. A. P. Resosudarmo, P. Cronkleton, M. Cromberg, W. Sunderlin, A. Awono, G. Selaya


Researchers and practitioners have amply discussed the potential of REDD+ to help or harm forest-based communities, but less attention has been paid to its gender dimensions. Safeguard policies are aimed at ensuring that REDD+ does not harm women, but interventions that do not seek to address imbalances at the outset may be doomed to perpetuate them. Based on research by the Center for International Forestry Research in 77 villages in 20 REDD+ sites across six countries, this article finds that women – even where they use forests as much or more – have been less involved in REDD+ initiative design decisions and processes than men, a situation with potentially significant implications for implementation and future outcomes. This article uses the research findings to argue that “participation”, while a central demand of indigenous and other local communities more generally, is only a partial solution to addressing women’s strategic needs in ways that could strengthen their position in REDD+. Rather, gender-responsive analyses are needed to understand real and perceived gender differences and anticipate risks.

Keywords: forests, climate change, Indigenous people, safeguards

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Gender Analysis, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Indigenous

Year: 2015


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