Climate change, suffragettes, direct action

climaterush.gifClimate change is a big problem. Direct action aimed at encouraging the government, and society in general, to do more to cut our greenhouse gas emissions is crucial.

So, a big thumbs up on that score to the Climate Rush:


Come to Parliament Square at 5.30pm on Monday 13th October.

Why not dress in period costume, or one of our stewards will give you the Climate Rush sash.

If we have a hope of stopping climate change we need to work together – men and women – all demanding a better future.

A range of inspirational women have agreed to speak: Rosie Boycott, Caroline Lucas (MEP and leader of the Green Party), Joy Greasley (Head of the Women’s Institute), Sam Roddick, Baroness Tonge and more…

For photos (of our Suffragettes) and news leading up to the Rush please check out our blog

We will present Gordon Brown with the latest climate researchand our demands:

1. No airport expansion.

2. No new coal-fire power station.

3. Cross-party policy in line with the most recent climate research and science.

Email to keep up to date with the latest speakers, plans and info.

This sounds like a really good event; it’s brilliant that it’s being organised – it’s really hard work to put these things together, so my critique here comes from a place of generally supporting the aims, objectives and so on of the protest, which I will almost definitely try to attend.

As I’ve banged on about, climate change is not gender neutral, and neither is/has been the green movement in general – check out the Women’s Environment Network‘s Women’s Manifesto on Climate Change if you want a good primer on some of the interconnections. Also see this piece on Grist, which draws some conclusions about how – as the environmental movement has become more mainstream, and thus more male-dominated – its objectives have shifted. Here’s yet another resource, which sets out a more international agenda. Gender CC is a great repository of research on this, and its networking listserv can put you in touch with women working on this all over the world.

But, but, but…

It feels to me like the connections are not being shouted loudly enough – dressing up as suffragettes, apparently, is about generalised “social change” and activism; there’s not a word on the blog or website that I can see about the deeply underreported likely impact of a changing climate on women. It seems like a massively missed opportunity. The blog shows images of protesters dressed up as suffragettes, but wearing sashes about airport expansion.

Meanwhile, the major international tools to tackle climate change currently in existance do not even mention gender or women – and we are coming up to a crucial point in the efforts to replace them; perhaps a good time to mention the concept to government. Awareness of the role of gender in climate change prevention and adaptation is at such a low that the New Scientist’s environment reporter only just realised (and dismissed) that it might exist.

Is Climate Rush a good thing? Absolutely. Is there a connection between the women’s and environmental movements? Absolutely. Shouldn’t a protest which so strongly references the women’s movement use the opportunity to bring up some of those interconnections?