Towards Integrating the Concerns of Women, Poor People, and Nature into Development
Sustainability Education Network is doubly honored to announce and review the newly published work of author Jytte Nhanenge, and applauds University Press of America for its recognition of the enormous value of her scholarship and 500+ pages.
We are honored first and foremost because Nhanenge’s seminal work is a worthy building upon the paradigm shift that for this reviewer commenced when he met Riane Eisler in San Diego in 1992 and read her book, The Chalice and the Blade. Riane Eisler (more below) has since rightly won worldwide acclaim, and her mission is — thank God — ever-expanding.
We are delighted with both works because we see them as being integrated – one building upon the other – and because the overall value of their proposed paradigm shift encompasses our own mission:
If we do not make the required changes in our perception of reality, in our knowledge system, in our institutions, and adjust the way we behave and relate to each other and to nature, then — to borrow the conclusion from Jytte Nhanenge’s book summary below – “patriarchal domination will eradicate life on planet Earth”.
And that brings us to the reason we are doubly honored: To us Ms. Nhanenge is Jytte, a friend across thousands of miles, a caring human being, and one who in 2010 generously contributed to a collaborative effort of SEN and Care2 activists to halt the advance of Monsanto GMOs. She found the time, and we know it was not easily found. We here follow suit.
SEN Review of: Ecofeminism: Towards Integrating the Concerns of Women, Poor People, and Nature into Development, by Jytte Nhanenge
This book should be read by everyone who sincerely cares about saving Mother Earth and all life dependent on it. It is more than highly critical of modern society and its dominant institutions and knowledge system, which are subordinating society and exploiting nature in order to provide the elites with economic profit. By using an ecofeminist perspective, the book clarifies this tragic and unsustainable state of affairs as being a function of patriarchal domination, and explains its underlying concepts and roots. Despite its scholarship, every concept, theory, and idea presented is explained in plain English, making everything easy to understand.
Some readers are apt to be surprised about the totality of the book’s criticisms of the status quo, because it reveals flaws in science, economics, and technology about which most of us are largely unaware, and we have been conditioned to believe they are beneficial. However, upon reading the explanations in the book, one is treated to the “aha” or “lightbulb” moment, and realizes WHY science and economics and technology are beneficial to so few and detrimental to so many (ie why they are not working).
Other readers may initially despair, for thinking it impossible to correct all the many and pervasive problems identified. Again, however, we think any despair will quickly give over to hope and then positive energy as the “aha” and “lightbulb” moments accumulate into a grand “Aha!”, as readers realize that underlying and common to all the problems is the extreme focus on masculine, yang forces in modern society. It becomes clear that including a good portion of feminine, yin energy will balance it all. Thus, it is reassuring that the book also suggests yin-yang harmonious alternatives, which are non-dominant and caring towards society and nature, ie systems that address the needs of women, poor people, and nature.
Happily, the book delivers more than a basis of hope and positive energy for change. It dares to dream, presenting visions of a non-dominant world. It may be a world we only can dream about because we do not know it, but we need to start dreaming.
The book does not purport to deliver absolute truths as to specific solutions — absolute truths derive from fundamentalism, which is a patriarchal fallacy. Instead, the book promotes a diversity of possible changes and solutions. It manifests this diversity in its integration of the wisdom of numerous highly respected thinkers and authors, including Albert Einstein, E. F. Schumacher, Fritjof Capra, Hazel Henderson, Vandana Shiva, Karen J. Warren, Val Plumwood, Noël Sturgeon, Ivone Gebara, Carolyn Merchant, Rachel Carson, James Robertson, Dorothy Rowe, Alice Miller, Paul Ekins, Robert Heilbroner, Irene Dankelman and Joan Davidson, Richard B. Norgaard, Janis Birkeland, Joseph R. Des Jardins, Marthinus Versfeld and many more.
The challenges we are facing in our troubled world are complex, a complexity this book clearly describes and yet renders understandable and soluble, it is therefore among the more important ecofeminism books published to date. SEN therefore concludes its review as follows:
The book is a must reading for every literate person in the world; it is for those who are appreciative of scholarship; it is for those who want to understand the root causes of our present global crises; it is for those who want to improve their knowledge in order to increase their engagement in the current important discussions about necessary global changes; it is for those who want to present their demands more eloquently to political leaders and media; it is for those who want real change and improvement in the quality of life for society and nature and who are fed up with the eternal focus on economic profit; and it is for those who are not yet completely impoverished by the greed of patriarchy and still have some funds available to buy the book*.
*If you are out of funds, I would urge you to ask your library to acquire it.
— Gregory Hilbert, Co-Founder SEN
– Suzanne Sparling, Co-Founder SEN
The Author’s Summary of Ecofeminism: Towards Integrating the Concerns of Women, Poor People, and Nature into Development
This book is for those who desire to improve their understanding of the current crises of poverty, violence, environmental destruction, human rights abuses, and their causes. It is an ecofeminist analysis of modern society’s dualised, patriarchal structure. It is showing that reductionist, masculine, and quantitative (yang) perceptions inform science, economics, and technology, resulting in subordination of holistic, feminine, and qualitative (yin) values. This yin-yang imbalance manifests as patriarchal domination of women, poor people, and nature leading to the above crises. Since similar values inform Third World Development, also its activities are exploitative. Thus, rather than improving human well-being, development increases poverty and natural degradation in the South. Presently, modern patriarchy manifests in neo-liberal policies that promote “free” global economic markets and trades. The policies are generating huge profits to the political and economic elites, while having devastating results for societies and nature worldwide. Unless we increase our awareness and demand changes that balance the yang and yin forces, patriarchal domination will eradicate life on planet Earth. [Please see Detailed Contents toward bottom of page. - GH]
About Author Jytte Nhanenge
Jytte Nhanenge is a Danish citizen in Mozambique who has been working with development in Africa for many years. She decided to find out what is wrong with development, as she was troubled about development’s inability to alleviate poverty. Nhanenge embarked on a lengthy study and discusses the outcome in her book. It’s scholarship is solidly grounded in the dissertation she wrote as part of her Masters of Art Degree in International Development Studies at the University of South Africa (UNISA), in Pretoria, South Africa.
About Riane Eisler
Riane Eisler is an Austrian-born American scholar, writer, and social activist whose family fled from the Nazis when she was a child. She has degrees in sociology and law, and is president of the Center for Partnership Studies. Eisler’s international bestseller The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future was hailed by anthropologist Ashley Montagu as “the most important book since Darwin’s Origin of Species.” Her 2008 book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics, proposes a new approach to economics that gives visibility and value to the most essential human work: the work of caring for people and the planet. Archbishop Desmond Tutu described it as “a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking.”
Ms. Eisler, I will shortly be sending you a letter of my own introduction written by another well-known American woman, Mary Eisenhower, Ike’s grand-daughter and Executive Directive of the People to People International he founded. Suffice it to say here that she was among a group of leaders who honored me with a wonderful sword they dubbed Excalibur. Yes, a BLADE! My purpose, however, is to obtain your consideration of Jytte Nhanenge’s work, which I believe most worthy of your encouragement. — Gregory Hilbert
Detailed Contents of Ecofeminism: Towards Integrating the Concerns of Women, Poor People and Nature into Development
Copyright 2011, University Press of America, All Rights Reserved.
Chapter 1: Aspects of the Crises in the World: The Crisis of War and Violence: Investments, Costs, and Results; The Price of War: Resources Spent on Military and War The Losses of War: Effects of War on Women, Children, and Nature; The Trade of War: Global Arms Trade Is the Biggest; The Futility of War: More and Better Weapons Do Not Secure Peace; Militarization and Social Inequality Increase Violence and Crime; The Crisis of Poverty and Inequality: Lack of Effective Solutions; Poverty, Sickness, and Death: Effects on Women and Children; Development: The Failed Strategy to Alleviate Poverty; The Problem of North-South, Male-Female Inequality; The Crisis of Environmental Destruction: Main Threats, Main Victims; Climate Change; Acid Rain; Ultraviolet Radiation; Deforestation and Desertification; Extinction of Species; Water Scarcity; Dangerous Industries: Their Pollution and Waste; Development: Its Destructive Ecological Consequences; The Crisis of Human Rights Abuses: Main Issues, Main Victims; The Value of Money Is a Priority Over the Value of People; Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, in Theory; Slavery and Human Trafficking; The Root Cause of the Crises: A Perceptual, Intellectual Crisis; Modernity: A Reductionist Perception of Reality; Alternatives: A Systemic Approach to the Crises.
Chapter 2: Perspectives for Transforming the Crises: Cultural Transformation: From Western Crises to Eastern Opportunities; I Ching: What It Is and How It May Promote Cultural Transformation; The Yin and the Yang: Interdependent Parts of a Whole Person; Applying Harmonious Yin-Yang to Unbalanced Western Society; The Systems Theory and Smuts’ Holism: Ecologic Ontologies; General Systems Theory, Smuts’ Holism: Environmental Thinking; Compared to Western, Patriarchal Culture.
Chapter 3: Ecofeminism: What It Is and Why It Is Important: What Is Ecofeminism; History; Positions; A Theory-in-process; Conceptual Framework and Philosophy; The Logic of Domination; The Logic of Value Dualism; Patriarchy; Environmental Ethics; Critiques of Mainstream Ethics; An Ecofeminist Environmental Ethics; An Ecofeminist Social Justice; Social Ecology; Deep Ecology; Radical Environmental Theories and Their Cooperation; Ecofeminism and Post-modernism; Ecofeminism: A Perspective beyond Post-modernism; Ecofeminist Spiritualities; Criticism of Ecofeminism and Response; Ecofeminist Movements.
Chapter 4: An Ecofeminist Analysis of Science, Economics, and Technology: The Origin of the Domination of Women, Others, and Nature; Science: The Foundation in Development; Part I: Modern Science: Its Domination of Women, Others, and Nature; The Scientific Revolution: From a Living World to a Dead Machine; The Scientific Revolution: Important Events for Nature and Women; The Early Domination of Nature; Tension between the Organic and the Mechanical Ideals; Nature Is Like Woman: Chaotic, Unpredictable, Disorderly; Women and Nature Are Inferior to Men and Culture; Superior, Public Man—Inferior, Private Woman; Passive, Emotional Woman Is Secondary to Active, Rational Man; The Men Who Created the Scientific Paradigm; Plato’s Hierarchical Dualism; The Copernican Revolution; Francis Bacon: The Father of Modern Science; René Descartes: Nature Is Dead: The World Is a Machine; Isaac Newton: Putting Theory into Practice; Society Is also a Machine; Mechanism: The Modern Way of Life; Science: An Ideology Founded on Power and Domination; Science Is Violent; Alternative to Mechanical Science; New Physics Declares the Universe Alive; The Relativity Theory and the Quantum Theory; Science Can Only Yield Approximate Knowledge; An Example of Systemic Thinking; Critique of New Science: It Cannot Overcome Dualism; Finally Overcoming Dualism! A Unified, Interdependent, and Harmonious Worldview; A Synthesis of Diverse Perspectives and Worldviews; Part II: Scientific Economics: Its Domination of Women, Others, and Nature; The Emergence of Economics as a Truth about the World; Economics Values Profit Over Society and Nature; Prices Are Objectively Derived; Nature and Society Are Externalized Anomalies; Economic Efficiency: To Destroy Nature and Society; The “Free” Market: Excluding the Needs of People and Nature; Private Profit Is Reaped on Public Costs; Economics Values Quantity of Money Over Quality of Life; Cost-benefit Analysis: Ignoring Social and Natural Values; Unlimited Economic Growth Will End Human Life on Earth; GNP Does Not Bring Happiness, Health, and Well-being; Economics Values Masculine Forces Over Feminine Forces; Individualism Leads to Self-destruction; Denial of Emotions Leads to Greed and Domination; Economics: Exploiting Human Emotions and Social Norms; Capitalism: A Dominant Regime That Generates Poverty; Denial of Ethics and Wisdom Leads to Greed and War; The Psychological Meaning of Money and Power; The Domination of the New Global Capitalism; Structural Adjustment: Domination of Women-Others-Nature ; A Feminist Critique of Structural Adjustment; Structural Adjustment’s Impact on Women and Nature; Neo-liberal Economic Development: A Third World War; NEPAD: A Future of Increased Domination; The Corporation: A Psychopathic, Legal Destroyer of Society; Alternatives to Scientific Economics; Requirements for a New Economics; Alternative Economic Thinkers; Economics for Women, Others, and Nature; Part III: Scientific Technology: Its Domination of Women, Others, and Nature; Technology: The Means by Which Man Controls Nature; Modern Technology: Leading to Social and Natural Crises; Technology Is Not Neutral but Value-laden; Technology Values Profit Over Society and Nature; Technology Values Hardware Over Software; Technology Values Violence Over Peace and Harmony; Biotechnology: The Means to Control Life Itself ; Biotechnology: Colonizing the Reproductive Powers of Nature; Biotechnology: Effects on Society and Nature: Unknown; Biotechnology: Patenting All Life Forms and Processes; Controlling Regeneration of Nature and Women; Appropriate Technology; Intermediate Technology; Nature and Society Friendly Technologies.
Chapter 5: An Ecofeminist Analysis of Development:
Part I: Development: A Discourse of Power and Domination; The United Nations Four Development Decades; The Discourse that Created the Underdeveloped Third World; Catching-up Development: A Neo-colonial Invention; Scientism and Developmentalism: A Violent Combination; Statism, Scientism, Developmentalism: Absolute Power and Control; Developmentalism: A Dualised, Masculine Perspective; Development: The Source of Poverty and Deprivation; Development: A Male-dominant, Gender-blind Project; Development Breeds Violence, Destruction, and Death; Ecofeminism and Post-development; The Arguments of Two Post-development Writers; Critique of Post-development and Response; Part II: Empirical and Socio-economic Links between the Domination of Women, Others, and Nature; Rural Women’s Living Condition in the South; The Framework of Vandana Shiva’s Analysis; Women and Food Production; Women and Water Management; Women and the Forests; Women’s Energy Crisis; Women and Education; Conclusion on Southern Women’s Relationship to Nature; Ecological Grassroots Movements: Chipko and Green Belt; The Chipko Movement of India; The Green Belt Movement of Kenya; Some Conclusions on Southern Ecological Movements; Shiva’s Work: Critique, Response, and Conclusion; Critique of Shiva’s Work; Shiva’s Response to the Critique, and Conclusion; Part III: Women, Environment, and Sustainable Development: An Ecofeminist Intervention into the Development Debate; The Discourse on Women in Development; The Emergence of Ecofeminism in the WED Debate; Events That Led to the Rise of the WED Debate; The Diverse Stands in the WED Debate; Critique of and Response to the Ecofeminist Intervention; The “Ecofeminist Moment” in the Development Discourse; Women’s Environmental and Development Organisation; The Workshop “Women and Children First”; The Conference “Women and Environment—Partners in Life”; “The World Women’s Congress for a Healthy Planet”; The Conference “Roots of the Future”; The UN Conference on Environment and Development; The Results from the Earth Summit; The Outcome of the Global Forum; Diverse Ecofeminist Discourse in Third World Development; Third World Development Is an Ecofeminist Concern; Ecofeminist Analysis of Development Activities;
Chapter 6: Ecofeminist Thoughts on a Possible Non-dominant World: “The Way Things Could Have Been”: A Whole, Interrelated, Mutual Person; Why It Is Important to Redefine the Concept of “a Person”; “A Person,” as Defined by Patriarchalism; “A Person,” as Defined by Ecofeminism; A New Definition of a Person Requires a New Ethics; A Whole, Experiential, and Contextual Epistemology; Opening Up Epistemology to Gender and Ecology; Human Experience: The Guiding Principle of Knowing; Knowing Is a Matter of Interdependence; Knowing Is Holistic—Knowing Is a Process; Knowledge Is Situated and Contextual; Knowledge Is Affective; Knowledge Is Inclusive; Ecofeminist Epistemology Is Relevant Knowledge; Lasting Peace: A Non-dominant Society That Cares for Its Children; Patriarchal Domination of Children; The Motives for Dominating Children; The Consequences from Traditional Child Rearing ; Adolf Hitler: The Abused Child, the Cruel Adult; Children Suffer: Society Turns Its Head and Looks the Other Way; The Way to Forgiveness of Childhood Abuse; Awareness May Bring about a Peaceful World; Building Sustainable, Non-domineering, Non-dualised Societies; A Future without the “Isms of Domination”; Reconnecting Humanity to the Web of Life; An Ecofeminist Development: Liberating Women and Nature
Chapter 7: Summary, Conclusion, and Recommendations: [As we said: "Must reading", and we hope the author's conclusions and recommendations are read far and wide! --SEN]