WHY CARE IS AT THE CENTRE OF A FEMINIST GREEN NEW DEAL

As featured in Issue 3 of Shado 

An understanding of the ways womxn are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis lies at the crux of the work undertaken by Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) in the UK. To create any meaningful change, we need to acknowledge that the system, which has its roots in colonialism and extractivism, is both a driver and a cause of the current climate crisis. In this world governed by patriarchal, capitalist and racist structures, climate change simply magnifies the existing inequalities within our society.

Care Work

The system devalues nature, womxn, People of Colour, trans and non-binary people and, all too often, puts profit above nature and people. Unpaid domestic work such as caring for children, the elderly or those living with disabilities, is predominantly done by womxn all over the globe. And yet, despite underpinning the whole system, it is not counted in a country’s GDP, nor is even often present in the awareness of its governors.

Within the unfair distribution of care work between genders, a high proportion of these womxn are migrant workers who have been continually and systematically devalued by the government. 

Molly Hankinson @mollyhankinson.studio Shado

Molly Hankinson @mollyhankinson.studio

Unpaid domestic work such as caring for children, the elderly or those living with disabilities, is predominantly done by womxn all over the globe. And yet, despite underpinning the whole system, it is not counted in a country’s GDP, nor is even often present in the awareness of its governors.

COVID-19 and Care Workers

In the UK, COVID-19 has proved the vital role that care workers, paid and unpaid, play in our society. Care workers have finally been recognised as ‘essential’ (albeit superficially) – but will this last? We now need a ‘just recovery’ that addresses the climate crisis and puts equality at the heart of everything we do. The pandemic has highlighted the urgency of addressing existing social, racial and gender discrimination which is also fundamental to tackling the climate emergency. As Mary Robinson said: “When the problems are man-made, the solutions are feminist.”

Molly Hankinson @mollyhankinson.studio

 “When the problems are man-made, the solutions are feminist.” – Mary Robinson

Bringing a Feminist Green New Deal to the UK

Spearheaded by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Green New Deal (GND) in the US outlines a blueprint for a carbon-neutral economy. Wen is building on this proposal, linking in global initiatives to advocate for a Feminist Green New Deal in the UK.

This deal has four main aims, all of which place care at the crux: care for people and care for the planet.

The first aim is better representation in political systems in the UK and developing inclusive participation to increase democracy and ownership. Womxn, especially Black, non-white POC and disabled womxn, are underrepresented in all areas of political life and rectifying this is crucial to creating an inclusive green economy going forward.

Building back better requires building back differently: we need things to change if we want to address climate justice and equality. Care will only become valued if there are people in power who know the value of it. We need to create a culture shift towards valuing care as foundational to the environment and the economy.

Building back better requires building back differently: we need things to change if we want to address climate justice and equality. Care will only become valued if there are people in power who know the value of it. We need to create a culture shift towards valuing care as foundational to the environment and the economy.

The second aim of the Feminist Green New Deal proposes investment in social infastructure. The Women’s Budget Group research finds that a 2% GDP investment in care will create double the number of jobs for womxn and almost as many for men as the same investment in construction. By growing the economy through an investment in the country’s people, alongside green physical infrastructure initiatives, we can ensure a more environmentally friendly and equitable growth.

The third aim is to encourage womxn and girls into male-dominated green sectors promoted by the GND, as well as encouraging boys and men into the already green caring sectors. This will help to address occupational gender segregation. New housing and residential developments should also be designed to enable greater sharing and coordination to reduce the amount of care and domestic work required in private households at the same time as reducing resource consumption and environmental impacts.

Lastly, a Feminist Green New Deal seeks to ensure that womxn and other marginalised groups are also represented in green jobs so that their lives and experiences can help shape a future that works for everyone. The care sector is not separate to the green economy as care jobs are green jobs: they are existing, low-carbon roles that should be expanded, valued and properly paid.

As has been glaringly exposed by COVID-19, ‘low skilled’ labour is equally as important as ‘high skilled’ labour, from both a social and economic perspective. The pandemic has offered a unique opportunity for us to rebuild society and the way we perceive its structures. COVID-19 has caused the machine of capitalism to grind to a halt. For those who have denied or questioned the ability to rethink our world order and its capitalist foundations, perhaps this is the biggest proof that, where there is political will, change can happen.

As the American political commentator and author Thomas Friedman said, “​Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”​

Shado issue 3

 Front cover by @finmelluish

We’re excited to have our Co-director, Kate Metcalf featured in issue 03 of Shado – bringing the voices of activists and artists from around the world together who are taking action and inspiring hope within the climate justice movement. 

Thank you to Shado for allowing us to share this article on our blog. 

We would highly recommend getting hold of the latest issue – there are some phenomenal interviews and articles (see below) – order now 

Shado issue 3

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