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Inspiring Thursday: Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, alter-globalization author and a major figure in the ecofeminist movement.

She studied physics at Panjab University in India and has a M.A. in philosophy of science from the University of Guelph, in Canada and a PhD in philosophy of physics from the University of Western Ontario. She later specialised in the fields of agriculture and food and has led and participated in many activist campaigns to preserve biodiversity and particularly crop biodiversity. These interests and extensive research have made her an expert in Intellectual Property Rights applied to natural resources.

In 1982, she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, which led to the creation of Navdanya a decade later, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, and to further the promotion of organic farming and small farmers’ rights. She has become particularly well-known for her fight and lobbying against agriculture giants such as Mosanto. Shiva has also authored and written many books about the impact of globalization on the lives of women and men in developing countries. Her defence and promotion of biodiversity and indigenous knowledge in agriculture granted her the title of “Environmental Hero” by Time magazine in 2003.

She is also a founding member of the Women´s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO), a global advocacy organization for the empowerment of women, the promotion of human rights, gender equality and the integrity of the environment, established in 1991.

For Shiva, feminism and environmentalism are inseparable. The ecofeminist movement sees the ecology movement and the feminist one as interconnected. For its proponents, the world view that causes environmental degradation and injustice is the same one that causes a culture of male domination, exploitation and inequality for women. Ecofeminism proclaims that both the environment and women have historically been oppressed by a patriarchal Western society. This means that women´s liberation cannot be achieved without fighting for the preservation of the environment and the liberation of all life on earth at the same time. In her book ´Ecofeminism´ (2014), co-authored with radical feminist sociologist Maria Mies, they write:

We see the devastation of the earth and her beings by the corporate warriors, as feminist concerns. It is the same masculinist mentality which would deny us our right to our own bodies and our own sexuality, and which depends on multiple systems of dominance and state power to have its way. (p.14)

By Teresa Iglesias, WAVE Intern

 

Sources:

momentumfemininum. “Dr. Vandana Shiva and Feminist Theory.” Conference on Earth Democracy: Women, Justice, and Ecology, 4 July 2009, womenjusticeecology.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/dr-vandana-shiva-and-feminist-theory/.

“Our HerStory.” WEDO, wedo.org/about-us-2/.

Saner, Emine. “Vandana Shiva .” The Guardian, 8 Mar. 2011, www.theguardian.com/world/2011/mar/08/vandana-shiva-100-women.

“Vandana Shiva: an Ecofeminist Environmental Activist.” Down To Earth, downtoearth.danone.com/2013/07/19/vandana-shiva-an-ecofeminist-environmental-activist/.