Missing Voices of Ecofeminism in Environmental Governance: Consequences and Future Directions

Ethics and the Environment 28 (1):55-74 (2023)
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Abstract

Abstract:Ecofeminism refers to a broad range philosophical and political movements that call attention to the link between social oppression and environmental destruction. Despite their relevance and potential theoretical and practical utility, ecofeminisms are largely absent from extant approaches to environmental governance (E-Governance). In addition to calling attention to the absence of ecofeminist voices in this arena, this paper explores the consequences of said exclusion and assesses the potential for ecofeminism to inform and ultimately improve E-Governance initiatives. I find that E-Governance research often disregards or fails to explicitly acknowledge and incorporate the inseparable and mutually reinforcing nature of social and environmental forms of domination and oppression. The consequences of this are twofold. First, many extant approaches forgo any opportunity to leverage the resolution of social inequities as a potential mechanism for reducing environmental harm. Second, initiatives that appear to be equity-driven often emerge as paternalistic and perpetuate the marginalization of oppressed groups. Accordingly, I develop and apply a novel collection of ecofeminist-informed design principles for evaluating, informing, and improving existing E-Governance initiatives. Ultimately, this paper yields fresh insight into the way ecofeminist voices can help researchers, communities, and societies transform how they think about societal interactions with the environment and equips E-Governance with the capacity to challenge social and environmental exploitation simultaneously.

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