EcoWomen is committed to being a thought leader on issues that affect women, the environment, and the workplace. As we find our voice and generate thoughtful commentary on matters of importance, we will post our perspectives here.
EcoWomen and Our Role in Supporting Racial Justice
In light of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many others, it is clear that as an organization and as individuals, we must vocally stand against systemic racism and police brutality. While these problems are not new, they are issues in which the environmental community has too-often been silent.
We want you to know that, across all chapters of this organization, EcoWomen stands with the Black community and is committed to doing better. We want to reaffirm our support for the Black Lives Matter Movement (see our 2016 statement), while recognizing that words alone are not enough to address these long-standing and pervasive issues.
We are actively exploring how we can support more diverse voices within our national and chapter leadership, while strengthening our support of groups led by women of color within the environmental space. When it comes to our advocacy, we are pivoting to focus on diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts. We recognize that much work remains to make our field a space where women of all backgrounds feel welcome, affirmed, and supported.
As an organization, EcoWomen is committed to starting this process by:
Acknowledging the problematic lack of diversity in our organization’s leadership, and that we can and must address these issues through more inclusive recruitment practices.
Educating ourselves on systemic racism so that we can start to dismantle such problematic infrastructure and create a more impactful, inclusive industry.
Continuing dialogues about underrepresentation and career mobility in environmental professions for Black women, and considering how our programming can best support these women in the environmental field by educating all EcoWomen on systemic racism so that we can start to dismantle this problematic infrastructure and create a more impactful, inclusive industry.
Advocating for policy change that challenges racist structures within our society to support Black women, because ensuring their safety and ability to prosper is so important. Without Black female voices and contributions, the environmental movement will never advance as it should.
We have attached some resources that will be available to all EcoWomen and allies who want to start the learning process (with reading lists for kids too!), as well as organizations where you can direct your time and donations.
Black Lives Matter.
This statement was adopted by the Board of Directors on September 7, 2020.
We stand with the #metoo movement. We have all experienced—or know someone who has experienced—the abuse, harassment, exploitation, and dismissal that comes with being a working woman. Collectively, our stories reach across the communities making up the environmentally-oriented profession writ large. We believe that, as an organization with a mission at the intersection between women, work, and the environment, it is our responsibility to add our voice and our perspectives to this discussion.
1. Silence is pervasive and is a huge part of the problem.
Women have historically kept secret their stories of harassment, rape, and other abuses. We’ve done this for many reasons – we are concerned about retribution, we may not want to believe it has happened, we worry about being found credible or damaging our reputation, we might even wonder if the incident warrants the level of speaking up, and so on.
#Metoo has been a challenge for some of us who didn’t want to have to explain to those we love what it meant, who did what to us and when. That said, one of the principal accomplishments of this movement has been pulling women out of silence, and as an organization of women, we commit to providing a platform for discussing the treatment of women in various settings, especially the workplace. We are committed to supporting (and boosting) the stories of our colleagues, friends and loved ones who speak up despite the risk. We recognize that it is not always safe for women to speak out, and we will provide a space for that dialogue.
2. Women cannot change things alone. Men need to step up.
This has been said by others, and we agree that men’s voices are critical to the conversation if change is to happen. The solution to sexual harassment is NOT on women changing their behavior, though we can certainly empower ourselves and each other to be part of an answer. Men need to lean into this discussion, call out their brothers and male friends, colleagues and loved ones when they see these behaviors. The time is now for “locker room” behaviors to be shut down with vigilance and men need to leave behind insecurities that may be preventing them from correcting their buddies. Not standing up for change now, might as well be viewed as contributing to the problem.
3. This is not normal.
It is not normal to have inappropriate and abusive behaviors perpetuated in public by those in power and the more that it happens, the more ground we lose. We cannot become numb to the now seemingly constant flood of accusations and stories. The discussions may be new, and just coming to the collective surface, but the stories are old and still pervasive. Together, we will pay attention to each one, believe women, and actively engage in the conversation.
EcoWomen are a unique force – we are women in the sciences, private industry, government, and academia all united in our desire to protect the environment. We are also united in our experience of abuse in our professional and personal environments. We firmly commit to supporting each other and continuing to share our stories as this movement grows.
This statement was adopted by the Board of Directors on March 14, 2018.
Black Lives Matter
We support and are in solidarity with the movement for Black Lives. EcoWomen is a community of women inspiring each other to create a healthy and equitable society, with local chapters in Baltimore, Colorado, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. We were founded over a decade ago with a mission to improve the working lives of women, and we focus on professional aspects of work in environmental fields.
We recognize and encourage diversity in environmental work, which includes women of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, legal or other categorization or status. Our interest in professional development requires us to address issues that are intrinsic to the experience of women, which includes social justice issues such as reproductive rights, equal pay, and any other barriers to women finding their own work-life balance.
The National Board of EcoWomen recognizes the urgency and necessity of the Black Lives Matter movement and is aligned with its goal to combat structural racism. We further recognize that race, class, ethnicity, and income disparity are deeply connected to environmental issues, and that in many instances the imbalances intersect to further displace vulnerable peoples. Thus, we are compelled to explicitly connect the Black Lives Matter and environmental movements. It is our belief that we can no longer turn our attention to “green” issues while our counterparts, friends, allies, and selves are under threat or flatly murdered in the streets. Supporting Black Lives Matter is our first “policy position” as an organization. As a member-led organization, it has become increasingly clear to us that we needed to make this stance in the public sphere in order to reflect the will of our leadership and our members. In the days and weeks to come, we expect that our chapters will weigh in with their own local perspective.
As we continue to monitor the status of policing and the impacts on our community members we remain allied with any and all non-violent actions to protect black lives. For more information about the interconnectedness of the environmental and Black Lives Matter movements check out these statements:
This statement was adopted by the Board of Directors on August 4, 2016.
Stop Asian Hate
First things first–EcoWomen condemns racism and discrimination of any kind. It is no secret that Asians in America have long-suffered bias and stereotyping. Further still, it is no secret that the same xenophobia that has deep, historical roots in our country is the same xenophobia that fueled the anti-Asian discourse and attitudes that have been exacerbated since the start of the pandemic.
On Tuesday, March 16th, 2021, eight people were senselessly murdered in Atlanta, Georgia, Six of them were Asian and to be more precise, they were Asian women. Six Asian women are no longer breathing today because we live in a society that has not yet made good on its promise of liberty and justice for all. If any of us suffer injustice at the hands of another, we all suffer injustice. Thus, we stand firm against anti-Asian rhetoric and actions. We stand firm against the misogyny that led to this brutal killing. We will say and honor the names of the victims:
Xiaojie Tan, 49
Daoyo Feng, 44
Hyun Jung Grant, 51
Suncha Kim, 69
Soon Chung Park, 74
Yong Ae Yue, 63
Paul Andre Michels, 54
Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33
These women were daughters, sisters, and friends. Aunties and cousins. They were mothers and grandmothers. They cried and experienced hardship. They danced and laughed. They lived. Most importantly, they were human and for that reason alone, they matter. The violence and racist remarks directed at Asian Americans have been rising, and at EcoWomen, we believe that hate has no place in our organization. Discrimination may not take up residence and racism must be shown the door.
To our Asian sisters and brothers who are reading this: we see you. We stand beside you. We see ourselves in you and will do what we can to protect your right to freedom and safety. To all of our sisters and brothers who are of color: we won’t ever stop fighting for you. Your hurt is our hurt. Your pain is our pain. To all who read this: this fight against the cowardly act of racism is ours to fight. We are stronger when we band together to snuff out the very discrimination that threatens to divide and destroy us all. Asian hate has to stop.
Our organization will do what we can to continue this fight. If you’d like access to resources to support your understanding of the plight of the AAPI community and how to combat anti-Asian racism, please review the list of resources linked here.
This statement was adopted by the Board of Directors on May 23, 2021.
Reproductive Justice and the Dismantling of Roe v. Wade
Reproductive justice is “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
With the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on June 24th, the court overturned Roe v. Wade, which affirmed the right to abortion in 1973. Nearly half of the states are expected to ban or limit abortion, immediately impacting 36 million women, trans men, and non-binary and gender-nonconforming people.
We’ve known this was the endgame for decades, but it is still a gut punch. As the justices said in their dissent: “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.” Read the full dissent here.
EcoWomen was founded with a mission to create a just and equal world by empowering women. Although we are environmentally focused, we recognize that environmental justice and reproductive justice are deeply connected – for example, that pollution and climate change, which typically have greater impacts on BIPOC communities, make pregnancy and raising children more dangerous and difficult. We stand in support of bodily autonomy and the right to abortion. Abortion is health care, and health care is a human right. Women and pregnant people have the right to make decisions about their bodies, their futures, and their families.
Forced birth is violence. It is particularly grotesque and cruel in a country that has the highest maternal mortality rate of high-income countries, no mandated paid maternity leave, crushingly expensive childcare, and frequently inaccessible health care. The burden will fall hardest, as it always does, on our most marginalized communities – including people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with the fewest resources and support systems, people with chronic illnesses, and people with disabilities, in addition to vulnerable groups, such as people experiencing domestic abuse.
EcoWomen stands with you. We will depend on the power of our communities now more than ever.
The ruling sets a deeply troubling precedent that erodes decades of progress advancing human rights, including marriage equality and access to contraception. Clawing back our rights will be a long, arduous struggle, but the only way out is through.
For a list of resources and organizations advancing reproductive justice, please click here.
This statement was adopted by the Board of Directors on July 6, 2022.