Throughout history, nature has been depicted as feminine gender. Nature, earth, river, the night, and the dawn have always been depicted as women and goddesses in Indian culture. There are Certain attributes that similar to the environment and women. Therefore, most of the environmental components are depicted as feminine in nature. Our ancient texts are filled with numerous instances of the relationship between the environment. Great poet Kalidas in his work Abhijñānaśākuntalam has depicted Shakuntala as nature’s daughter. Shakuntala develops an intense relationship with trees, animals, birds, etc. Valmiki in his great Epic Ramayana has depicted Sita as the daughter of mother earth and throughout her life, she maintains a bond with nature and the environment. For instance, the depiction of Sita in the garden of Mithila when she meets Lord Rama for the first time and after her marriage. Sita spends half of her life in the forest in Exile. These are some of the few examples of the interpersonal relationship between women and the environment. Critics claim that women have no role or very little role in Environment conservation. In rural India, most of the women have a direct link with natural resources such as water, wood, animals, forest, etc. Women have a direct relationship with the environment. Most of the rural women spend most of their time collecting water, food, fuel from natural resources such as rivers and forests. Therefore they are directly impacted by environmental degradation. For Instance, a rural woman usually goes to the river to collect water. Due to pollution, the river water is not suitable for drinking thus she has to go to the next village to collect water. Through this example, it is evident that women suffer more from environmental degradation than men. Hence, they are the ones who work hard to conserve the environment.
Women and their role in Environmental Conservation
- The talk on women’s role in the Environment government is considered to be incomplete without the revolutionary Chipko Movement. Chipko Movement is considered to be one of the first movement that was held for the Environment by women. This movement was started in 1970 by rural women of Uttar Pradesh to save the trees from loggers. These women raised their voices against the development plans of the Government that allow the cutting of trees
- Apart from that, Bishnoi Samaj of Rajasthan has also played a crucial role in Environment Conservation. The Bishnoi movement can be traced long before the Chipko movement. Bishnoi movement began in 1731 when Raja Abhay Singh gave the order of cutting trees. Numerous villagers under the leadership of Amrita Devi fought against this order and used the same tactics of hugging the trees to prevent them. Even, today Bishnoi Samaj is still working for environmental Conservation. The women of this community treat little animals as their children. Even today women breastfeed little animals like little goats and deer. This shows their utmost love and dedication to the environment and wildlife.
- No one can never forget the Narmada Bachao Andolan and Medha Patkar. She raised her voice against the construction of the dam on the Narmada river. She started this movement in 1989 and tried to protest peacefully by fasting for several days. She is known for her work on environmental conservation and spreading awareness.
- Maneka Gandhi, an animal rights activist and environmentalist, has founded the organization, People for Animals in 1992. This is the largest organization for the welfare of animals in India. For her revolutionary work for the welfare of animals, she has received so many awards.
- Poets such as Sugathakumari and Mamang Dai are well known for their poetry mainly dedicated to the environment. Through their poetry, they have tried to invoke the love for the environment among their readers. Sugathakumari has not only written poetry but has participated in Save Silent Valley Protest.
- Not only the older generation but the young generation is also working hard to conserve the environment such as Dr. Krithi Karanth is Chief Conservation Scientist and environmentalist, she has been researching how human beings and wildlife can co-exist peacefully.
- Dr. Purnima Devi Barman is a conservation biologist working in an NGO called Aaranyak in Assam. She has been awarded with Nari Shakti Puraskar (highest civilian award for Indian Women) for her contribution to environment.
- Not only these, but there are also many more strong women who have worked for the Environment and who have been working for the environment.
So through this blog, my main aim was to break the misconception that women have no contribution to environmental conservation. Throughout history, nature has been depicted as the feminine gender because several attributes are similar to both women and the environment. The main amongst these is the quality of patience both women and the environment are considered to be patient. Both environment and women share a strong relationship because they have a direct link with each other. As it is evident that the condition of both women and the environment is degrading day by day. Therefore being close to the environment women are the ones who have always sympathized with the degraded state of the environment. So it is high time for us to acknowledge women’s role in environmental conservation and to empower them so that they can work more for environmental conservation.