Feminist political ecology

Feminist political ecology

Feminist political ecology is a synthesis of the perspectives taken by several different feminisms, specifically those of ecofeminism, feminist environmentalism, socialist feminism, feminist poststructuralism and environmentalism. It adds to this mix the political ecological emphasis on differential access to resources based on class and ethnicity. While sometimes confused with ecofeminism, feminist political ecology avoids ecofeminism's tendency to essentialize women. Instead, it provides an interdisciplinary framework for understanding the importance of gender, race, culture, ethnicity and class in affecting processes of ecological change and access to resources, placing the greatest emphasis on gender.

A good example of a feminist political ecological analysis is the study by Diane Rocheleau and Laurie Ross of the Rural Federation of Zambrana-Chaucuey. They employ both qualitative and quantitative methods in order to look at "gender relations within rural households and communities and their articulation with environmental and economic change at local, national and international levels" (Rocheleau 1995:459). They focus on group affinity rather than individual identity in order to allow for women's simultaneous membership in multiple and sometimes overlapping groups, avoiding "the 'women and' orientation" which tends to decontextualize women (461). Rocheleau concludes that "both men and women should make sure that the gendered stories and visions of rural people are counted (literally and figuratively) in the resource management decisions that affect them from the local to the international level" (465).

The study of the relationship between environments, gender and development has grown recently because of the restructuring of economies, environments and cultures at a global and local level. Women and men are being viewed as actors who affect environmental management, resource use, and the creation of policies for health and well-being. Feminist political ecology does not view gender differences in environmental impact as being biologically-rooted. Rather, they are derived from social constructs of gender, which vary depending on culture, class, race, and geographical location, and they change over time between individuals and societies.


*Rocheleau, Diane, with Barbara Thomas-Slayter and Esther Wangari, eds (1996) - Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues & Local Experiences. Routledge.
*Rocheleau, Diane. (1995) - Maps, Numbers, Text and Context: Mixing Methods in Feminist Political Ecology. Professional Geographer 47(4):458-467.

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