Gender and Climate Change Politics

Authored by: Susan Buckingham

Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415707749
eBook ISBN: 9781315886572
Adobe ISBN:


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The Women’s Manifesto on Climate Change, published on 15 May 2007, emerged from a collaboration between the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), forged at the UK party political conferences in Autumn 2006. Stemming from awareness that environmental politics can be ‘gender-blind’, both organizations support women to voice and take action on their environmental concerns, and to campaign on local and global issues, including climate change (see Bond and Cleevely 2010; Metcalf et al. 2015; WEN 2010, n.d.). The NFWI’s remit goes beyond environmental issues, although it is not always easy, or appropriate, to establish where the boundaries lie between these issues and those of broader social justice (Di Chiro 2008). Interestingly, WEN’s incursion into climate change campaigning had been energetically discussed at its trustees’ meetings. WEN had historically campaigned on a range of environmental issues as they specifically affected women’s lives. Its past campaigns included those against lindane in chocolate, as well as how chocolate manufacturers target women consumers; chemicals in sanitary products which can cause the potentially lethal adverse reaction ‘toxic shock syndrome’; and disposable nappies, which, by 2007 were contributing 3 to 4 per cent to the UK’s non-recyclable waste stream (The Nappy Alliance 2007; Metcalf et al. 2015). Campaigning to address climate change in ways that empowered and benefited women would be a departure in WEN’s style and scope and was, in part, occasioned by the changes in a funding environment in which climate change-related activity was being prior-itized. Eventually, WEN trustees and employees agreed, with a degree of reluctance, to reframe its work to take advantage of these changes.

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