REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE AND THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY

Reproductive Justice and the Climate Emergency in the UK

Reproductive Justice and the Climate Emergency in the UK 

This is a summary of our joint webinar, with Birth Companions, celebrating the launch of the Reproductive Justice and the Climate Emergency in the UK paper.  On the panel were:

  • Lola Fayokun, Youth Climate Justice Campaigner, member of Advisory Board, Uplift
  • Olamide Raheem, Portfolio Manager, Impact on Urban Health

  • Helen Lynn, Health Advisor, Wen
  • Katherine Miller Brunton, Policy, Communications and Engagement Officer, Birth Companions
  • Naomi Delap, Director, Birth Companions

  • Kate Metcalf, Co-Director, Wen

You can watch the whole webinar in our recording: 

Katherine Miller Brunton, Birth Companions – Reproductive justice and the climate emergency in the UK 

In the United Kingdom, the climate emergency is not just a distant threat; it’s a pressing reality that intersects with every aspect of our lives. From the air we breathe to the food we eat, its impacts ripple through society, affecting vulnerable populations disproportionately. Among those most affected are pregnant women, birthing people, parents, and families facing inequalities. Recognising this urgent need for action, Birth Companions embarked on a two-year collaboration to explore the intersection of the climate emergency and reproductive justice.

 

Exploring Reproductive Justice in the Context of Climate Emergency:

The journey began with a shared recognition of the urgent need to address the impacts of the climate emergency on reproductive health. We turned to the Reproductive Justice framework as our guiding light, understanding its capacity to encapsulate the multidimensional challenges faced by marginalised communities. Developed by indigenous women and women of colour in 1994, this framework emphasises four core human rights: bodily autonomy, the right to have children, the right to not have children, and the right to parent in safe, sustainable communities.

Collaborative Efforts and Key Findings:

Understanding the complexity of this issue, we engaged in collaborative efforts with stakeholders across sectors. Through workshops, consultations, and shared expertise, we delved into the intricate intersections of climate, health, and justice. The culmination of our efforts resulted in the publication of a comprehensive report and a summary paper, highlighting the key findings and suggesting actionable steps for change.

Impact of Climate Emergency on Reproductive Rights:

The paper meticulously examines various elements of the climate emergency and their detrimental effects on reproductive justice. From air pollution’s impact on infertility to the challenges of accessing essential reproductive healthcare amidst environmental disasters, the threats are manifold. Moreover, we confront prevailing discourses around population control, debunking myths and emphasising the need for equitable resource distribution.

Urging Action and Intersectional Solutions:

As we navigate the complex landscape of climate and reproductive justice, complacency is not an option. Structural, gendered solutions are imperative, rooted in intersectional approaches that acknowledge the interconnectedness of these issues. We call upon individuals and organisations across all sectors to join us in advocating for change, recognising that climate and reproductive justice are inherently linked.

The intersection of the climate emergency and reproductive justice demands urgent attention and collective action. As we navigate the challenges ahead, let us remain steadfast in our commitment to fostering systemic change and building a future where all individuals have equal access to reproductive rights and environmental justice. Together, we can create a world where every person can thrive, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

 

Kate Metcalf – Centering Women in the Green Economy: A Feminist Green New Deal 

In our joint project with the Women’s Budget Group, we’re championing the vision of a green and caring economy where all voices, especially women and those of marginalised communities, are central. Through grassroots workshops, policy papers, and events, we’re amplifying these voices and paving the way for inclusive change. 

Key Elements of a Green and Caring Economy:

At the heart of our initiative is the goal of creating a green and caring economy with equality at its core. We recognize that our current economic system has led to intersecting crises of climate emergency and inequalities, and we’re committed to rewiring it to prioritise care over profit. This means investing in social infrastructure, such as social care and childcare, alongside decarbonising our physical infrastructure. Care jobs are green jobs – they are existing low carbon jobs and are essential to our wellbeing.

Promoting Gender Equality in Green Jobs:

Ensuring that women and marginalised groups benefit from green jobs is crucial. We advocate for a shorter working week at the same pay to promote a more equal distribution of care responsibilities. Additionally, we emphasise the need for inclusive and green public transport, housing, and access to blue and green spaces, designed with the input of women and marginalised groups.

Participation and Decision-Making:

Women and marginalised groups must have a seat at the table in all aspects of decision-making around climate and economic policy. Their perspectives are essential for designing policies and services that work for everyone. Through inclusive participation, we can build a more equitable and sustainable future.

Our reproductive justice paper is just the beginning of our efforts to engage new audiences and spark conversations about the intersection of climate, economy, and gender, racial and social equality. Together, let’s continue pushing for a green and caring economy that uplifts all voices and ensures a brighter future for generations to come. Join us in building a more inclusive and sustainable world.

 

Helen Lynn – Introducing the Green Baby Project: Promoting Healthy Beginnings for Babies and Children 

As prospective parents, creating a safe and healthy environment for pregnancy, babies, and toddlers is paramount. The Green Baby Project aims to guide individuals through every stage, from conception to toddlerhood, considering the impacts of toxic chemicals and other factors on fertility, pregnancy, and early childhood development. With a focus on sustainability and safety, this initiative offers practical suggestions and alternatives to minimise exposure to harmful substances and promote well-being for all.

Key Components of the Green Baby Project:

Feathering Your Nest: Preparing for the arrival of a new family member involves thoughtful consideration of the environment, both at home and beyond. From choosing safer personal care products to selecting eco-friendly furniture and materials, the Green Baby Project offers guidance on creating a nurturing space for the whole family.

Reducing Exposure: The project emphasises the importance of reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and other risk factors in clothing, toys, nappies, and food, particularly during the critical stages of pregnancy and early childhood. By adopting safer alternatives and practices, parents can safeguard their children’s health and well-being.

Engagement and Advocacy:

The Green Baby Project engages with individuals and stakeholders through various channels, including workshops, forums, and advocacy efforts. By partnering with organisations like Birth Companions and hosting events like the Green Baby Day of Action, the project aims to raise awareness and build a coalition of advocates for a safe and sustainable future.

Challenges and Opportunities:

Despite the interconnected nature of environmental and health crises, current regulations often fall short in protecting vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and children. The Green Baby Project advocates for stronger regulations and policies to ensure the health and safety of current and future generations.

As we navigate the complexities of parenthood in an ever-changing world, initiatives like the Green Baby Project provide invaluable support and resources for families seeking to create a healthier, more sustainable future. By prioritising safety, sustainability, and advocacy, we can empower parents and caregivers to make informed choices and advocate for positive change in our communities and beyond. Join us in promoting healthy beginnings for all families.

 

Lola Fayokun youth climate Justice campaigner – Harnessing the Power of Feminist Reproductive Justice in Climate Activism

In recent years, the urgency of the climate emergency has become increasingly apparent, prompting widespread awareness and action. However, amidst this growing movement, one crucial perspective often overlooked is that of feminist reproductive justice. In my work within movement spaces, I’ve come to realise the indispensable role of applying a feminist lens to the climate crisis.

The Feminist Lens: A Clearer Perspective

Applying a feminist lens to the climate emergency helps us see the issue with greater clarity, particularly by highlighting the voices often marginalised in these conversations. By acknowledging the intersecting oppressions faced by women and marginalised communities, we gain a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges at hand.

Bringing Frameworks to the Forefront

The reproductive justice framework, employed in this new paper, is a powerful tool born out of diverse movement spaces. It systematically addresses social issues, enhancing the efficacy of movements advocating for societal change. This framework not only informs grassroots efforts but also drives policy change on a national and governmental scale.

The Importance of Collaboration

Effecting meaningful change requires collaboration across diverse sectors and communities. While grassroots organisations play a vital role in community engagement, broader systemic change necessitates action at the policy level. By bringing together different groups and perspectives, we can advocate for comprehensive solutions to societal challenges.

Protecting Reproductive Rights: A Global Imperative

In today’s political landscape, reproductive rights are increasingly under threat worldwide. Even in the UK, we’ve witnessed attempts to restrict women’s reproductive autonomy. It’s imperative that we not only anticipate future threats but also address existing challenges. This requires critical and imaginative thinking, along with strategic collaboration across sectors.

Expanding the Scope of Action

Reproductive justice isn’t confined to reproductive health issues alone; it intersects with housing, environmental, migration, and racial justice. By expanding our thinking and engaging with diverse perspectives, we can create holistic solutions to complex societal problems.

The integration of feminist reproductive justice into climate activism represents a crucial step toward creating more inclusive and effective movements for change. By centering the voices of marginalised communities and advocating for comprehensive solutions, we can work towards a more just and sustainable future for all. Let’s harness the power of feminist frameworks to confront the challenges of the climate emergency head-on.

 

Olamide Raheem, Portfolio Manager, Impact on Urban Health – Integrating Climate Action into Public Health: A Local Perspective

At Impact on Urban Health, where we focus on tackling health inequalities in South London. Over the years, we’ve recognised the urgent need to integrate climate action into our mission to address health disparities effectively.

Understanding the Local Context

In South London, where we operate, stark health inequalities exist, with disparities of up to 15 years in life expectancy between neighbouring areas. Recognising the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable communities, particularly those already facing health inequities, prompted us to explore the intersection of climate and health.

Building Climate-Health Co-benefits

Our journey began by understanding present and future climate risks in our local area, particularly focusing on the physical health impacts. We assessed factors like air pollution, access to green spaces, and urban heating, which significantly affect residents’ health, especially vulnerable groups.

Integrating Climate Action into Programmes

We incorporated climate considerations into our existing programs, such as children’s health and mental well-being initiatives. By addressing food insecurity, promoting access to healthy foods, and enhancing green spaces, we aimed to improve overall health outcomes while mitigating climate impacts.

Engaging Communities and External Partnerships

Collaborating with community groups like Mums for Lungs and supporting initiatives led by Black and Brown organisations helped us amplify climate action efforts. By harnessing existing energy around climate change, we fostered dialogue and engagement within local communities.

Centering Equity and Climate Justice

Central to our strategy is centering racial equity and climate justice. We recognise that marginalised communities are disproportionately affected by both health inequities and climate change. Our renewed mission prioritises community expertise, policy development, and long-term climate resilience.

Looking Ahead

As we embark on the next phase of our journey, we remain committed to integrating climate action into public health efforts. By prioritising equity, collaboration, and climate justice, we aim to build a healthier and more resilient future for all residents of South London.

 

Naomi Delap, Director, Birth Companions -Taking Action for Reproductive Justice 

As we delve into solutions, it’s vital to recognise that addressing the climate emergency and achieving reproductive justice requires systemic change. While government action and corporate accountability are crucial, individual and organisational efforts also play a significant role.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Read and Share: Dive into the concepts outlined in the paper on reproductive justice and the climate emergency. Discuss it with others and share examples to raise awareness and understanding.

 

  • Support Campaigns: Back initiatives focusing on the intersection of reproductive justice and climate action. Whether it’s environmental campaigns, health projects, or initiatives tackling air pollution, your support can make a difference.

 

  • Engage in Policy Advocacy: Support initiatives like the Feminist Green New Deal and advocate for reproductive justice in climate-related policies. Your voice matters in shaping policies that address structural inequalities and environmental concerns.

 

  • Enhance Organisational Sustainability: Take steps to improve sustainability within your organisation. By adopting eco-friendly practices, you contribute to a more sustainable future and inspire others to follow suit.

 

  • Join Collective Action: Collaborate with like-minded individuals and organisations to organise campaigns and advocate for environmental issues. Join efforts led by groups such as Birth Companions and Women’s Environmental Network to amplify your impact and drive change.

 

By taking collective action and advocating for systemic change, we can work towards a future where reproductive justice and climate equity are central priorities. Together, let’s build a more sustainable and just world for current and future generations.

Download the summary

Download the full report

 

 

 

WHAT IS REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE?

Developed by Black and Indigenous women in the US in the 1990s, the reproductive justice framework provides an invaluable lens through which to understand and address the climate and biodiversity emergency.

The reproductive justice framework centres around four core human rights:

  • The right to bodily autonomy
  • The right to have children
  • The right to not have children
  • The right to parent the children we have with dignity in safe and sustainable communities.

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