Why the European Green Deal needs ecofeminism

In recent years, European environmental and feminist movements have seen increasing support. Ecofeminist theories and practices are regaining attention with women mobilising against nuclear energy, the destruction of nature or for a feminist perspective in urban planning. The European Green Deal as the main policy framework of the current European Commission and the new European Gender Equality Strategy are strong signals that both environmental protection and gender equality are high up on the von der Leyen Commission’s agenda.

Despite the European Union’s declared commitment to gender equality, women are invisible in the EU’s flagship European Green Deal, which risks turning the gender gap into a chasm and delaying the transition to sustainability, concludes our new report Why the European Green Deal needs ecofeminism. The report, launched by WECF and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) Friday July 16, collects analyses and recommendations from experts representing 23 organizations and institutions.

First, environmental impacts are gendered. For example, men cause on average 8 to 40% more emissions than women, mainly due to their mobility and dietary behaviour. Women tend to opt for more sustainable mobility choices and have different travel patterns with shorter and more frequent trips while public transportation services are often modelled upon men’s direct commutes to work. As economic power is still unequally distributed, energy poverty disproportionately affects women, while women led households may have less resources to invest in sustainable solutions.

Due to social norms, beauty standards, gendered occupations and biological factors, women are disproportionally affected by chemicals such as those found in cosmetics or cleaning products. In terms of representation, the environmental sector is far from being gender equal or inclusive which reflects the overall underrepresentation of women in political decision making. For instance, parliamentarians sitting on environmental committees are still by a significant majority male and 70% of environment ministers in EU Member States today are men.

Based on these findings, we propose a list of measures (while not exhaustive) that can contribute to achieving an inclusive, gender-just, impactful and more effective transition to a carbon neutral and sustainable future.