Presentation puts focus on diversity in environmentalism

Last Wednesday representatives from Intersectional Environmentalists (IE) gave a presentation in Ostrander Auditorium, and via Zoom, on the value of promoting intersectional issues, such as feminism, anti-racism and LGBTQ rights within the environmental movement. The presentation was given by the executive director of IE, Diandra Marizet and the eco-communications editor of IE, Amira Dhanoa.

Intersectionality in the environmental justice movement is about ensuring that everyone is given fair treatment and equally involved within the creation and enforcement of environmental policies and laws.

“We want to make sure everybody on the planet, all humans and all living beings, get to enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and everybody gets equal access to the decision making processes,” said Marizet.

“We do not in any way own the language intersectional environmentalism, but we really wanted to create a space where people could explore a new form of environmentalism that did harness intersectionality,” said Marizet explaining the purpose of IE.

The differences and overlap between cultural ecofeminism and radical ecofeminism were discussed and how radical ecofeminism wanted to be more inclusive of groups left out of traditional western environmental frameworks.

“Cultural ecofeminism supported the fact that women had a direct connection to nature based off of gender roles, like being home carers and nurturers,” said Dhanoa.

“Radical ecofeminists argued that cultural ecofeminism supported the gender binary by equating women to the environment just based off of their gender roles and their biology,” said Dhanoa. “So they wanted to encourage the inclusion of the LGBTQ community and women in the global south who are often left out of western frameworks of environmentalism.”

During the presentation, the problems with fast fashion and economic exploitation of garment workers in Los Angeles, the work of Native American water protectors at the Dakota pipeline demonstrations and the work of women of color in the environmental movement were all discussed in depth.

The exploitation and oppression of women was a frequent topic as was as the role women have played in environmentalism.

“Historically women have been denied free movement and agency and the ability to acquire land for themselves and are more likely to become income insecure and experience gender based violence and systemic violence,” said Dhanoa.

A small number of students attended in person with others joining on Zoom. The small number of attendees resulted in the presenters having everybody sit on the stage in the front during the presentation. Afterward, everyone retired to Ostrander room 245 for refreshments and to allow for a more intimate discussion of the issues brought up during the presentation.

“It’s important to realize that it’s not our individual responsibility to address these problems but it is our responsibility to learn about them and support unionizing or support empowerment of communities that are acutely affected by these [environmental] issues,” said Dhanoa.

“Humans are inherently good, we are inherently good people but oftentimes we are put in systems that have horrendous implications,” said Marizet. “That’s why we need people in every topic, every passion area, every hobby, finding ways to advocate for better systems that people can thrive in.”

Header Photo: The students who attended the event sat on stage while learning more about the Intersectional Environmentalists’ presentation regarding feminism and LGBT rights within the environmental movement. (Emily Lansman/The Reporter)

Write to Jeremy Redlien at Jeremy.Redlien@mnsu.edu

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