A feminist approach to climate justice

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Our Network Development Coordinator Rosi shares some reflections on International Women’s Day

In 1999 Vienna ran a survey for its residents to better understand what people needed from its transport system. The responses were significant in exposing a key link between climate justice and the conditions of gender roles in the city.

Not only were women the biggest users of the city’s public transport, but they needed to make multiple journeys in a day across a variety of routes. Women cited multiple trips to take children to school or appointments, food shops for themselves and relatives and multiple commitments needed to keep households going, not to mention their own wage-work commute. 


This is just one of many examples of where climate justice and feminism meet head on. Much as the lack of alternatives to private cars are bad for our environment and our air quality, it compounds the demands that many women face day to day of paid and unpaid care work.

In Ireland women are much more likely to be sole carers for children or relatives and as a result be working part time or on social welfare payments, which for one parent families sharply declined in 2014.

The lack of accessible services like public transport doesn’t just increase our reliance on fossil fuels, it compounds poverty for women on low incomes. 

At the frontlines of climate change these pressures are stark. Figures from the U.N. show that women make up 80% of people displaced as a result of climate change.

For people seeking a new life in Ireland, they are often forced into completely inhuman conditions of Direct Provision, accommodation services outsourced to private companies and run on a for-profit basis. Here they must carve out a new life for themselves and their families, with an allowance of €38.80 for themselves and €29 for a child.

Their children will face an additional challenge as since 2004, a deeply racist campaign by the then government ensured that children born in Ireland do not have an automatic right to citizenship of this country.

Despite the fact that Ireland, along with other rich countries in the Global North,


 is responsible for the emissions that have caused climate change and resultant forced displacement. 

The fight for climate justice forces us, as Angela Davies famously said, to grasp things at the root.

What are the material conditions we need to change to liberate ourselves and our planet from the grip of toxic fossil fuel companies and our economy’s pursuit of profit above people and planet?

We need to grasp these changes at every level - in day to day conditions such as free and accessible public transport, in our homes and on our streets. The struggle of low income women in Ireland and their experiences can lead the way.

Luckily for us, time and time again we see women leading the fight for a better world. In Ireland, we see women at the forefront of movements against fracking and oil and gas expansion, against mining, leading the fight for better quality housing. 

If you don’t believe me - join in and see for yourself. In almost a decade of involvement in community organising, it has often been women who I have seen forging the nuts and bolts of organising and community building.

Let’s take hope from these struggles.patriarcyIt feels fitting to end these reflections with a quote from Berta Cáceres

"We must solidly realize—or, as comrade Suárez would say, “like a rock”—the education of our peoples as social and political subjects, building with those of us who are on the streets, in occupations, so that, in addition to practices, we are able to clearly, and more validly systematize our theoretical, political, and cultural bases in connection to this being that we are and this doing. And this should go beyond reflections, beyond theory, beyond statements. Let us effectively dismantle capitalism, patriarchy, discrimination, racism"