Bearing the burden of climate breakdown

“There is a large group of women that have been bearing the burden of climate breakdown in the whole world,” says Jeanette, who works as a gender program coordinator with Global Forest Coalition. “So we are trying to bring that out and shed light on it within the broader climate movement here in the Netherlands.”

A space for the feminist perspective

The national climate strike that’s happening on September 27th is an opportunity for Jeanette and Fossil Free Feminists to create a space for the feminist perspective. “We are going to hold up that feminist flag in the feminist block we will share with other women’s rights organisations,” she explains. “But we also want to build solidarity and cross-movement collaboration. The current ecological breakdown is underpinned by not just patriarchy,” she goes on, “but extractivism, capitalism, colonialism and huge structures of oppression, and with the climate strike we can come together with all these people from different blocks and shed light on these different issues.” For Fossil Free Feminists, it’s just getting started. “We are new, we’re still trying to build our blocks. But the climate strike is a very important moment for us, and people can see how they can join in and support our cause.

Everyone is welcome

The group holds a very inclusive view of feminism. Jeanette explains that “for us, it’s not just about women being promoted, it’s also about dismantling oppressive structures, in all the various forms it comes in, and I think that’s very important. We want to consider all of these issues, not just gender discrimination, but also others around class and race, disability. We need to think about how people are differently affected by the climate crisis, and how we can propose solutions that work for everyone, and not just women.”

Holding corporations accountable

Fossil Free Feminists started out with a common goal of denouncing Shell for feminist-washing. Jeanette: “They had released a campaign about closing the gender gap, and the ways in which they support women. We were triggered by the feminist-washing in the campaign and we wanted to deconstruct and dismantle it, and point out the hypocrisy of saying that you’re going to promote women in the workplace, when your core business is to pollute, plunder and pillage the environment and local communities. How can we hold Shell and other corporations and polluting industries accountable for all this destruction? And how do we hold the governments that support these actors and their activities through subsidies accountable?

More than fossil fuel

But the scope of the group extends beyond the fossil fuel industry. Being all about intersectionality, they also want to bring an awareness of environmental justice to the women’s rights movement and vice versa. Jeanette gives an example: “We try to raise awareness of the killings of women human rights (and environmental) defenders, which is related to climate breakdown, and corporate impunity, the idea of profit over planet.”

We’re all connected

Meeting other feminist activists from around the world in her daily work, and hearing the stories of community women leaders from Kenya to Colombia defending their territories and restoring biodiversity and forests in the face of climate change on a daily basis, Jeanette feels very inspired. It’s what motivated her to join Fossil Free Feminists. “I thought, what can we do at our own local level? How can we show support and solidarity with the broader movements fighting these injustices? Because we’re all linked, we’re all connected. And it’s not only these stories, but this idea of collectively visioning real community-driven alternatives to our climate crisis, I find that super motivating.

Come and meet Jeanette and Fossil Free Feminists at the climate strike tomorrow and join them at the feminist block!