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By Saskia Electra
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“The liberation of the earth, the liberation of women, the liberation of all humanity is the next step of freedom we need to work for, and it’s the next step of peace we need to create.” Vandana Shiva.


Most of us would agree that women and girls hold a very important role in shaping a brighter future, including a bright future for our environment. That’s why ecofeminism is needed, a movement that highlights the importance of women and girls in creating a sustainable society. We have to understand that the subordination and discrimination of women, girls, and the environment are deeply rooted in the capitalistic system. If we want to fight for environmental justice, we must also fight for women’s rights, and achieve a balanced and healthy social-environment society. 


This leads me to share my own opinions and experience surrounding this topic. Being a teenager living in Indonesia, I’ve experienced both gender and environmental issues in my surroundings. People in my community are very rooted in the patriarchal system, which makes it very common for me to see sexism on several extended levels on a day-to-day basis. It is easier to advocate environmentalism (waste management, street cleaning movements, recycling, etc) in my community compared to feminism since we have seen and experienced the direct effect of the environment on the community. That’s a completely different case for feminism since the patriarchal mindset comes from a religious framework, which makes it hard for people to accept the concept of feminism. Traditional gender roles are still heavily forced upon people, mostly expecting women to participate in domestic roles. 


Living in West Java, Indonesia, I get a display of environmental and gender-based issues all the time, even on a day-to-day basis. Every single time I step out of my house, I can easily spot the issues. For example, I usually use online or public transportation. I see a variety of things even just by being on my way somewhere. A few weeks ago, I got cat-called several times while I was walking through the train station. And on the train, I would often see piles of garbage on the side of the road, which eventually will cause flooding in my area. A neighborhood living in poverty can also be spotted on my train ride. I would see women taking care of multiple children at once, and they would be living in small damaged houses. These issues are right in front of me; I encounter them every day. I ask myself “So, what can I do about it?”


Indeed, the question that should be asked isn’t just “What can I do about it?” because there's just so much that I can achieve as an individual, but what should be asked is “What can we do about it?”. A problem cannot be solved when we are not aware of the root of the issue. Therefore I find that one of the key strategies for facing environmental issues and gender issues is to try to raise awareness and move together. Although I know mass companies and government institutions have a bigger capacity in advocating change surrounding these issues, it’s also very important to remember that an effort for change is still an effort of change, no matter how small it is. So, here’s your sign to start being part of the solution, start small, start now!

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