Intersectional Feminist Writer Says Climate Change Policy Must Include Voices Of Women Of Color

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In our journey to critically understand the important of intersectional feminism, and in our desire to share it with our readers, we are committed to constantly learning about how feminism can become a more inclusive movement that advocates equality for all people.

One of the biggest criticisms we see a lot in mainstream media is the dominance of white feminism and the exclusion of voices of color. We’ve shared a number of articles about the discussions about this, through art, music, and other platforms in order to dismantle the idea that feminism is only for one particular group.

Intersectionality demands that we look at the struggle for equality through a different lens than our own and understand how issues of race, class, ability and other factors that mean one blanket solution does not fix, let alone address, a problem involving inequality.

Feminist author and artist Ama Josephine Budge is on a mission to elevate this knowledge. As a woman of color, traveling between the UK, and Ghana, she has a very distinct perspective on what needs to happen in order for feminism to be truly intersectional, especially for other women of color.

She says feminism needs to be decolonized, removed from the Euro-centric cultural norms that took over most of Africa and other places like India. She is also a firm believer that more voices of women of color need to be included in global climate change policies because there are aspects of environmental issues that could be improved if they had a seat at the table.

In a recent interview with Newsdeeply.com‘s Odharnait Ansbro for their Women & Girls Hub section, Ama explains how women are disproportionately left out of the climate change debate, and that to include feminism in this issue, women of color must be part of discussion. Ama also recently spoke about this at the Decolonizing Feminism Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the end of August.

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“Feminism has a multifarious history in that, while some critical feminist expressions have conceived of patriarchy as a global concern, many branches of feminism have elided the experience of non-Western women from critical feminism, or have enshrined Eurocentric values within a feminist discourse. Some theorizations have obscured the struggles of women who are queer, transgender, or disabled, and racialized social structures have given white feminists more direct access to political power and public discourse than those feminists who confront combined gender and racial oppression. The mantra ‘feminism is for everybody,’ which is also sometimes written ‘feminism is for every body,’ calls attention to the need for feminist modes which are not merely adaptable to non-Western experience, but which are rather fused at the root with the diversity of women,” said a description of the event.

Ama’s perspective is that white women are dominated the conversation around feminism, which leaves out the many feminist movements that have been happening throughout history in various indigenous cultures, although not necessarily labeled as “feminist”.

“So many people … have their own understandings of what feminism is and I think it’s really important that that’s acknowledged and brought into the community and our history. Decolonizing feminism, for me, is one of the only ways that we’ll save the black feminist movement because the new generation of black women that I’m meeting don’t call themselves feminists,” she said.

They feel that it is not necessarily a movement for them, which is what Ama is hoping to change with her activism and discourse on the topics.

“I’m hoping – and I’ve already seen – that we can actually bring a lot of those women in and go, ‘No, this is for and about you and this is actually what you make it. It isn’t something that’s fixed and that is oppressing you. The world is something that’s fixed and oppressing you, and that’s why we need this space to dismantle it,” she said.

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With climate change, Ama says if women of color aren’t part of the solutions, the policies are not going to be as comprehensive as it should be. According to the World Farmers’ Organization, women comprise 43% of the international agricultural labor force. In Africa, 80% of the agricultural production comes from small farmers, who are mostly rural women. Women comprise the largest percentage of the workforce in the agricultural sector, but do not have access and control over all land and productive resources.

It’s not enough to just create financial opportunities for these women and their families, there has to be acknowledgement of their expertise in climate issues, says Ama.

“Indigenous women [and] those in the global south, who are on the front lines of climate change right now, are being spoken for by people in positions of power. Climate change, almost more than any other area, is where indigenous people, particularly in South America and in the U.S. have been, phenomenally and enduringly, just fighting on every level – they’ve been marching, they’ve been lobbying, they’ve been writing. They’ve been doing everything for years and, of course, getting no coverage and getting no dissemination of their work,” she explained.

She uses the example of the Zapatista movement in Mexico, and the part women played. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), an indigenous armed organization, declared war on the Mexican Government in 1994, demanding work, land, housing, food, health, education, independence, liberty, democracy, justice and peace.

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Ama says the way that women’s voices were part of the key message is something that needs to be emulated.

“Putting them at the forefront of that conversation is saying, ‘I’m going to give you the microphone rather than continue to talk about how you don’t have the microphone. I acknowledge your right to your body, your right to your speech, your right to your experience, and the fact that I don’t know that experience and I can’t speak for that experience.’ And that is what feminism is all about,” she said.

Climate change as a feminist issue should be led by women of color in our opinion. When we read about women like Berta Cáceres, the indigenous environmental activist who fought for indigenous land rights for many years, before being killed earlier this year, is an example of a woman who cared less for a label, than she did her cause.

We recently spoke to feminist artist Cori Redstone from Utah, a passionate environmentalist who said her activism against fracking and the Porter Ranch leak are an intrinsic part of her feminism.

We’re also seeing it in real time right now as the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, being led by Native American women, men and youth are bringing an important issue about indigenous land rights and colonization to the mainstream.

Ama Josephine Budge’s perspectives have challenged us to use our small section of the the digital media world to understand how we can be better feminists by understanding the importance of intersectional issues and speaking out about them. To learn more about the author, speaker, and artist, visit her website and find out about her future appearances.

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