Ecofeminism emerges from common ecological and feminist struggles against capitalist patriarchy. It departs from the general premise that the domination, oppression and exploitation of women and nature are fundamentally interconnected under a violent and hierarchical system of power. Growing, processing and preparing food are activities that clearly bring together issues around gender, nature and neoliberal capitalism.
Smallholder farmers grow about 90% of the food grown in Africa and 50% of the world’s food. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that around 80% of those small farmers are women, many of whom go hungry and often lack the right to own the land they farm, with women farmers receiving only 5% of available credit. At the same time, female farmers are often referred to as “farmers’ wives” in most developed countries. And across the world women are still mostly in charge of “feeding the family”, while television programmes are full of male celebrity chefs.
Against this backdrop, initiatives like Via Campesina – ‘the international peasant movement’ – are increasingly highlighting the need to resist neoliberalism together with patriarchy, pointing to for example the manifold forms of violence against women farmers, unequal access to land and gender blindness in the agriculture sector. For Via Campesina, gender equality is requisite to achieving food sovereignty, advanced as an alternative to the dominant agro-industrial model that is exploiting people and nature.
In this spirit, the series of four Ecofeminism, Food and Social Justice seminars, “Sowing Hopes and Struggles” will consider issues around gender and food from ecofeminist and multi-disciplinary perspectives. The series is a joint interdisciplinary collaboration amongst the Food Research Collaboration and two groups based in the Department of Sociology at City University London: the Gender and Sexualities Research Forum; and the Social Movements and Civil Society Research Group.
GSRF blog: https://blogs.city.ac.uk/gsrf/
Date: Wednesday 17 February 2016
Time: Seminar 16.00 – 18.00, Reception 18.00 – 19.00
Location: Room C309, Tait Building, City University London
Title and abstract tbc.
Sheila has been a food journalist for almost three decades, beginning work as an editor and writer at the New York based magazine, Food Monitor. For 20 years she has worked on The Food Programme, first as reporter, then producer and now presenter. Her investigative work has won many awards including the Glaxo Science Prize, Caroline Walker award and several Glenfiddich Awards, most recently for her documentary on the history of the American meat industry. In the late 1980s and 90s she and Derek Cooper covered the breaking scandal of BSE, the rise of GM foods, the growth of the organic movement from muck and magic to multi-million pound business, the birth of the World Trade Organisation and irradiation at a time when those subjects were not even a gleam in a newshound´s eye. Recent programmes on the chocolate industry, fishing practices and food prices carry on the tradition. She is also the creator of Radio 4’s first interactive grocery show, Veg Talk. In January 2008 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by City University for her work, which, the citation says, “has changed the way in which we think about food.”
Title: An Ecofeminist Economics for Sustainability and Social Justice
This presentation will argue that ecofeminism can provide a framework for sustainable provisioning based on sufficiency (enough) and social justice (an equal right to livelihood). Ecofeminism provides a critique of neoliberal economics because it exposes the linked oppression and marginalisation of ‘women’s work’ (work around the body and sustenance) and the exploitation and degradation of the natural environment. The boundary that excludes both is economic value expressed through the allocation of money: paid versus unpaid or low paid work and nature as a ‘free’ resource. Rather than arguing for the abandonment of money systems the case will be made that money needs to be democratised and re-oriented to public and social benefit.
Mary Mellor is Professor Emeritus at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne. Her early research and activism in the co-operative movement resulted in a co-authored book Worker Co-operatives in Theory and Practice (1988). Later active involvement and research in ecofeminism led to two books Breaking the Boundaries: Towards a Feminist Green Socialism (1992) and Feminism and Ecology (1997). She took part in the anti-nuclear women’s peace camp at Greenham Common and toured Japan talking on Women, Environment and Peace. She also helped set up her University’s Sustainable Cities Research Institute. Concern at the failure of modern economies to recognise unpaid domestic labour and environmental damage resulted in three books: The Politics of Money (co-authored 2002), The Future of Money (2010) and Debt or Democracy (2016).