Today on 5 June 2020, WILPF is launching the zine Down the Green Feminist Road: our Path to Environmental Peace. In this zine, colourful illustrations guide the reader through eight stories about how WILPF members across the globe are taking action to highlight the connections between the environment, women’s rights and peace.
“We are determined to change our situation to better contribute to peace and development,” says Véronique Kanyala from WILPF Burkina Faso in the zine. In their project “Land rights are human rights”, WILPF Burkina Faso took action by organising information sessions and open discussions to empower women and inform them of their rights.
The project undertaken by WILPF Burkina Faso is just one of eight local projects that you can read about in the zine.
After reading the zine, it becomes clear that environmental degradation is often a direct consequence of a competition for resources and extractivism. Capitalist structures continue to negatively affect the environment.
From a grassroots perspective, it is obvious how individuals are affected by these problematic structures. Indigenous peoples all over the world witness and are directly affected when the land they have cared for for centuries is exploited for profit. The exploitation of resources not only leads to the destruction of the environment, but many times to violence and harm to indigenous peoples. One example of this is the story told in the zine by WILPF Mexico.
In Mexico, the quest for natural resources has been prioritised over indigenous and rural communities who are dependent on nature and their land for survival, and have been for many years. Even when conservation efforts are made, indigneous peoples are not included in decision-making. However, WILPF Mexico took action, organised meetings, and reached out to community authorities for a change to be made.
When militarism is normalised in society, the negative effects the military has on the environment often fail to be questioned. Military activities and exercises lead to the devastation, pollution and destruction of ecosystems. In the zine, multiple stories set out how militarisation and the military leads to problematic environmental consequences in different ways. From problems of radiation in fjords in Norway, to deforestation in Afghanistan – military activities affect nature in all corners of the world.
By changing the way in which the military is taken for granted as if a natural part of society, it is also possible to put an end to environmental degradation. In the zine you will find out more about how WILPF Sections work to change the way our societies and communities think about militarism, raise awareness of its effects, and put authorities on the spot. It’s clear that only by asking the difficult questions can we succeed in making a change.
A global problem that affects all people needs a solution that takes everyone into account. It is simply impossible to solve an environmental crisis without acknowledging and dismantling the structures of power that only allow some voices to be heard.
One example of how grassroots action can change these structures of power is a story from WILPF Kenya. Many women in the rural areas of Kenya experience serious challenges as a consequence of gender stereotypes, inequality and attitudes. WILPF members decided to improve women’s economic and social livelihood by creating communities of support, called Mama bomas. Read more in the zine about how these communities work as one step along the way to changing the bigger structure of gender inequality.
The zine is available in English, Spanish and French. In the zine you can read the complete stories from WILPF Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway and Sweden. All stories serve as inspiration on how frontline communities make the voices of marginalised groups, women and youth heard.
At its International Congress in 2018, WILPF launched an Environmental Peace Education Initiative. This initiative supported WILPF Sections and Groups through small grants for projects on environmental sustainability. This initiative is one part of WILPF’s recognition of the close relationship between the environment, women’s rights and peace. Drawing on the reporting received from Sections and Groups on projects awarded grants, WILPF has produced a zine to highlight and celebrate their work.