Gender and climate change adaptation responses in Kenya

The links between climate change and gender are widely known. However, little research has been done on how men and women respond differently to climate variability and uncertainties. To help respond to this, my ongoing PhD examines the politics of gender in climate change adaptation in the Maasai community of the Mara region in Kenya. So far, I have found many ways in which gender, class and age intersect with responses to climate variability, among diverse pastoralist men and women.

Extreme weather events

The Mara region of Kenya has experienced increasingly unpredictable extreme weather events like frequent prolonged droughts and floods that plague the area. This has led to a loss of key resources for livestock pastures, water, and salts, that are crucial for livestock production. The region has also faced tremendous ecological and social economic changes in the last couple of decades in the form of land fragmentation and dispossession, urbanization, and an influx of immigrants. These changes, coupled with the erratic weather events, have compromised the communities traditional coping strategies. In response, changes in processes, livelihood activities, and sources of income have emerged, along gendered lines.

Responses to climate variability occur in the confines of society that is laced with social inequalities along the lines of gender, class, age, race etc. These in-equalities pose barriers to access, control, and ownership of resources, perpetuate unequal distribution of labour, and excludes certain segments of society from meaningful decision making. Thus, shaping how diverse men and women, avoid, prepare for, respond, and recover from extreme weather events that threaten their lives and livelihoods.

You can read the full text at the Institute for Development Studies.

Video series: Second Training Lab

Originally planned to take place in Bolsena, Italy, at WEGO-ITN’s partner Punti di Vista, last year’s Second Training Lab was adapted into an on-line event, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All meetings, lectures, workshops and plenaries happened between June 10th-18th 2020.

All encounters and discussions were recorded and are now also available in videos produced by the group. The editing was a collaborative project by WEGO PhD’s Marlene Gómez, Dian Ekowati, Enid Still and Anna Katharina Voss, together with film maker John Akerman.

Videos include a keynote lecture by Prof. Dr. Katherine Gibson, from the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, and the Community Economies Research Network (CERN) – plus discussions between WEGO members about the meanings of Feminist Political Ecology and care. Finally, 3 videos depict mini lectures on PhD’s research projects.

They are also available at our Youtube and Vimeo channels.

International Women’s Day: ‘Gender Dimensions in Climate Change’ lecture

International Women’s Week was a day of celebration – and combativeness – for WEGO-ITN researchers and partners. Coordinator Prof. Dr. Wendy Harcourt held a lecture at Radboud University  on ‘Gender Dimensions in Climate Change’, which is now fully available online:

About the lecture:

’My talk will look critically at the notion of the green economy as the way to mitigate climate change. My argument is that the neoliberal green economy relies on market and technological efficiency and only pays lip service to notions of gender, empowerment and inclusion. Its apparent championing of small-scale green entrepreneurs – particularly women and indigenous groups from the Global South as ‘good for climate’ ignores power relations and inequalities based on gender, race, ethnicity, class, and physical ability. The neoliberal green economy is not a climate- or people-caring economy because it ignores the actual care work that is required to maintain everyday life in all societies.

My talk proposes that we must move beyond the green economy in order to advance climate justice by reimagining ‘caring for climate’ through a caring economy or solidarity economy framework, one that is embedded in the principles of cooperation, sharing, reciprocity, and intersectional environmental justice. Instead of ‘greening’ the economy we need to be ‘sustaining livelihoods’ to ensure nutrition, ecological balance, clean water, secure housing, gender equality, meaningful approaches to all forms of labour.

Care work is always there. What needs to change is that it is no longer invisible, privatised, and done for free by women, people of colour, immigrants, or other marginalised groups. Caring for climate, caring for earth, and caring for people should be at the centre of economic value, not at the margins. What is required in order to ‘care for climate’, is to build caring communities for change based on solidarity economies. Such economies would value care work in all areas of life with the creation of new job sectors and climate-friendly livelihoods which challenge the gendered composition of the today’s neoliberal, androcentric and capitalocentric economy.’’

 

 

WEGO in action in India

Prof Wendy Harcourt, WEGO project coordinator will be travelling to India to give lectures as part of the WEGO-ITN initiative.

Prof Harcourt gave a lecture on
“Rethinking life-in-common in the Australian landscape”
on Friday, 7 February from 16 to 18 hrs at IGCS Seminar Hall, 4th floor, Biotechnology Building 2, Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, Indian Institute Of Technology.

The lecture reflected on the shifts in Wendy’s personal and political lifeworld across time and space by sharing a story of changing awareness about ‘life-in-common’ in the Australian landscape; a landscape that is marked by historical, ecological and resource struggle and injustice. Her commentary takes up the rethinking of ‘life-in-common’ as part of the search for alternatives to capitalism and a way to overcome socio-ecological crises which pays attention to the deep connections of nature and culture. Wendy reflects on what a ‘life-in-common’ means as an Australian born feminist political ecologist wishing to understand how to address the erasures and violence that mark the Australian landscape.


applying a gender lens to the environment in the everyday

On Wednesday, 5th of February, Prof Wendy Harcourt gave a lecture on
“Applying a gender lens to the environment in the everyday”
at the Women’s Studies Centre and the Department of Sociology of Savitribai Phule Pune University, from 14.00 to 16.00 pm hosted by Dr. Swati Dehadroy and Dr. Anagha Tambe from the Savitribai Phule Women’s Studies Centre and Dr. Shruti Tambe and Prof Hemant Chouhan from the Department of Sociology.

 

 

Wendy Harcourt at SPPU in Pune, 5 February 2020
WEGO in Pune, February 2020
WEGO in Chennai, February 2020

WEGO at POLLEN 20: ecologies of care

WEGO is happy to announce that our proposals for two ‘Paper Session’ entitled ‘Ecologies of Care I – Politics and ethics of care’  and Ecologies of Care II – Care-full political ecology – with whom, with what and where do we care?’ has been accepted for inclusion in the POLLEN 20 conference. 

The Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20) will take place from 24 – 26 June 2020 in Brighton, UK.

The conference theme is Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration

Organiser Name and Contacts:
Wendy Harcourt: harcourt@iss.nl; Enid Still: Enid.Still@uni-passau.de; Jaime Landinez Aceros: jlandinez@stanford.edu and Constance Dupuis: dupuis@iss.nl

Title: Ecologies of Care

Key words: care, gender, feminism, more-than-human, ethics

Session abstract

Recent debates on the politics and ethics of care brings together the politics of gendered bodies and labour, the messy ethics of more-than-human interdependencies, and questions of difference and belonging in alternative ways of being-in-the-world (Harcourt 2017; Puig de la Bellacasa 2017; Singh 2017). These perspectives tease out the invisibility of ‘caring ethics’ and what care means and does in different contexts and different socio-natural entanglements, exploring how practices of care can animate, complicate or make visible such entanglements. These discussions are infused with hope for an alternative, more ecologically sane society but are also critical of the depoliticisation of care as inherently ‘good’ or naturalised. The non-innocence of care and its uneven nature within more-than-human interdependencies are therefore central to these debates (Puig de la Bellacasa 2017). This panel organised by Well-being, Ecology, Gender and cOmmunity – Innovative Training Network (WEGO-ITN) will try to build upon these discussions, expanding notions of care beyond human subjectivities (and yet rooting it in anthropocentric times), through exploring how care emerges in landscapes of extractivist ruins.

Core themes running through the panel will be: what caring practices are emerging from sites of socio-ecological transformation? How are notions and practices of care complicated by their non-innocence in particular sites and contexts? How are more-than-human interdependencies are animated when practices of care take place in extractivist ruins? The panel will look towards how we can repair our world as we seek to ‘interweave’ our bodies, ourselves and our socio-natures in a ‘complex, life-sustaining web’ (Tronto 2017) as we seek to locate some of the many ‘care-ful’ forms of political ecology needed to ‘reappropriate, reconstruct and reinvent our personal and political lifeworlds’ (Escobar and Harcourt 2005). The two panels will look at two main themes: Care in Extractivist Ruins and Care-ful political ecology – with whom, with what and where do we care? 

References 

  • Escobar, Arturo and Wendy Harcourt 2005 “Introduction”, Women and the Politics of Place London: Zed Books. 1-19.
  • Harcourt, Wendy. 2017. “Gender and Sustainable Livelihoods: Linking Gendered Experiences of Environment , Community and Self.” Agriculture and Human Values34(4):1007–19.
  • Puig de la Bellacasa, Maria. 2017. Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Singh, Neera. 2017. “Becoming a Commoner: The Commons as Sites for Affective Socio-Nature Encounters and Co- Becomings.” Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization 17(4):751–76.
  • Tronto, Joan. 2017. “There is an alternative: homines curans and the limits of neoliberalism”. International Journal of Care and Caring 1: 27-43.

Part I‘Ecologies of Care I – Politics and ethics of care’ 

The first panel ‘Care in Extractivist Ruins’ will focus on how more-than-human interdependencies in sites of extraction are illuminated through practices of care and how such caring practices can become forms of resistance or coping. Some key questions the panel will address are:

  1. How can caring socio-natural entanglements resist, undercut, refuse logics of colonialism, militarization, and capitalism?
  2. When and how does extractivism extract, appropriate or exploit care (human, non-human) in local and global sites of climate crisis? e.g. through CSR campaigns that legitimise the extractive regime
  3. What practices of care emerge in the ruins of extractive landscapes in the global South and how do they contest assumptions around wellbeing?

Panel Participants

Each presentation will have 10 minutes this will be followed by buzz groups among the participants and a Q and A. The discussant taking into account the discussion 15 minutes before  the end of the session will ask one question to each panelist who will respond.

Collective Care in Times of Agrarian Crisis by Enid Still (UK), Universität Passau, Germany

Abstract: The agrarian crisis in India has been depicted as one of indebtedness and financial burden, driving thousands of farmers to suicide. This picture is of course inherently partial. The experiences of women farmers and the widows of farmers who have committed suicide trouble the perception of suicides as only an economic ‘problem.’ They reveal a much deeper social malaise, rooted in a politics of land, patriarchy and caste, re-produced by regimes of exploitation and dependency, where the extraction of value from the soil and the extraction of bodies from agrarian communities are deeply intertwined. The perspective of women farmers and farm widows on the crisis have been silenced and invisibilised, their ability to navigate these times thus curtailed, due to both cultural norms that stigmatise widows in multi-layered ways and narrow socio-political categories that define farmers as landowners, predominantly therefore upper-caste men. Through practices of collective care however, the struggles of rural women in India are finding a voice and demonstrating the possibilities for healing degraded lands and a traumatised agrarian community.  

Poisoned Landscapes: Stories of Soil Care Amidst War Times by Jaime Landinez-Aceros (Colombia), Stanford University, USA

Beyond Economy: Exploring Care within the Everyday Lives of Independent Oil Palm Smallholders in West Kalimantan, Indonesia by Dian Ekowati (Indonesia), Brighton University, UK

Siti Maimunah (Indonesia), Universität Passau, Germany

Facilitator and Discussant: Giovanna DiChiro, Swathmore College, USA,  gdichir2@swarthmore.edu ‎

Part II: ‘Ecologies of Care II – Care-full political ecology – with whom, with what and where do we care?’   

 The second panel on ‘Care-full political ecology – with whom, with what and where do we care?’ will explore from feminist, interdisciplinary and intergenerational perspective ‘care-full political ecology’ describing different acts of looking after, protecting and providing for the needs of human and non-human others. The papers will look at how care operates in the  co-production of genders, natures and bodies as we move towards emancipatory politics of life-worlds. 

Panel Participants

Each presentation will have 10 minutes this will be followed by buzz groups among the participants and a Q and A. The discussant taking into account the discussion 15 minutes before  the end of the session will ask one question to each panellist who will respond.

Enfleshing Human Rights and the Inter-American Convention On Protecting The Human Rights Of Older Persons by Ana Agostino (Uruguay), Montevideo, Uruguay and Constance Dupuis (Canada), International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Hague, The Netherlands

Caring for self and nature: Women and Ageing in Rural Japan by Nanako Nakamura (Japan) and Chizu Sato (Japan), University of Wageningen, The Netherlands 

Abstract:

Flower farmers and water flows: caring for and theorizing about troubled socionatures in Maharashtra, India by Irene Leonardelli (Italy), IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract: The paper will look at the everyday practices of care, reciprocity, sharing, solidarity and equity  between farmers and natures among flower growers in Maharashtra. Inspired by feminist political ecology studies, I unpack the multiple socionatural relations, practices, experiences and embodied emotions of women farmers growing flowers using waste water coming from nearby industrial areas. By looking at flowers as a product of socionatural interaction (or women farmers-water interaction), I unfold the tensions farmers experience in the everyday in relation to taking care of themselves, of their community and of the nature they inhabit. I develop my narrative as a way  to theorize about and care for more sustainable and equitable socio-natural presents (and futures).   

Facilitator and Discussant: Yvonne Underhill-Sem, University of Auckland, New Zealand, y.underhill-sem@auckland.ac.nz

More information on the WEGO sessions will follow

#NonUnaDiMeno – WEGO at the demonstration in Rome

WEGOers Wendy, Ilenia, Nick and Anna Katharina were in Rome on the 26th and 27th of November for #NonUnaDiMeno, the international demonstration to stop male violence against women.

The group joined the demonstration in Rome on the 26th. It was followed by the National Assembly on the 27th where Ilenia led an afternoon session towards next year’s strike on International Women’s day.

The demonstration, used the slogan #NonUnaDiMeno (Not one less), to recall directly the Argentinian demonstrations #NiUnaMenos, and to stand in solidarity with all women in the world that are fighting everyday against discrimination, violence, and for their self-determination.

The group concluded their stay in Rome with a final work meeting.

Undisciplined Environments goes live

Undisciplined Environments – a platform for political ecology research and activism – has launched today, 1 October 2019

This novel effort is a collaboration between the ENTITLE Collective and the WEGO project, as well as other transnational networks – like the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN).

Undisciplined Environments (UE) aims to become an influential crossroads for activists, researchers, journalists and anyone interested in the mutual imbrications of power, society, culture and ecology. Our commitment is to establish UE as a compelling virtual space to share ideas, stories, concepts, methods and strategies for the elaboration of the knowledges and practices needed to build more emancipatory socionatural worlds.

WEGO members Panagiota KotsilaIlenia Iengo, Irene Leonardelli, Wendy Harcourt and Stefania Barca are on the editorial collective.