Indigenous Women, Climate Change Impacts and Collective Action
2014. Hypatia: a Journal of Feminist Philosophy 29 (3): 599-616.
17 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2013 Last revised: 1 Jun 2015
Date Written: September 1, 2013
Like other communities, Indigenous peoples must adapt to climate-induced ecological variations like sea level rise, glacier retreat and shifts in the habitat ranges of different species. In ongoing conversations on climate change, some Indigenous women articulate how seriously they take the specific responsibilities they perceive themselves to have within the systems of responsibilities that matter to their communities. Such responsibilities can range from acting as custodians and teachers of local ecological knowledge to acting as conveners of political movements aiming at respectful co-existence with neighbors. For these Indigenous women, the responsibilities that they assume in their communities can expose them to harms stemming from climate change and other environmental changes. Yet at the same time, their commitment to these responsibilities motivates them to serve as enablers of adaptation and mitigation. efforts.This paper offers a starting point for the following positions: Some Indigenous women have their own unique capacities for collective action that advance adaptation and mitigation. Non-Indigenous parties’ political responsibilities should involve deferring to Indigenous women’s own knowledges of and motivations for collective action. Deference can be expressed through political institutions that bolster the conditions needed to support Indigenous women’s collective actions. In many cases, deference is incumbent on Indigenous national governments and political organizations. Further work beyond this paper should seek to further clarify the political reforms needed to support Indigenous women’s collective agencies for adapting to and mitigating climate change.
Keywords: gender and climate change, climate justice, Indigenous peoples
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