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‘Engendering Equity in Ecuador’s Ecosystem’, Talking Points, Women in Action, Issue 2009-2

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Ivonne Yanez
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Why is oil considered to be a site of struggle towards climate justice and gender justice? Oil industry development projects have additionally burdened already marginalised communities, especially women. Climate change has disproportionate impacts on women; for instance, drastic changes to natural resources complicate their traditionally held jobs of collecting firewood and water.However, women should be seen as stakeholders rather than victims of climate change. Women are increasingly stewards of the environment, so their knowledge of resource use must be integrated into decision-making processes. They have been leaders in campaigns to prevent further damage from being perpetrated by the oil industry, and calling for environmental sustainability. Since most oil is found and exploited on indigenous people’s territories, the identities and issues of these peoples are woven into their activism. For example, Quechua women in the Ecuadorian Amazon are building ‘energy sovereignty’ communities, which promote the generation, distribution and consumption of sustainable energy. This article emphasises how climate change is something that developing countries are bearing the brunt of, though they are not the ones mainly responsible for it. Therefore, Ecuador has not only proposed that its most important oil reserves be left untapped, but it has also demanded a solidarity fund from industrialised countries to pay an accumulated ecological debt dating back to the colonisation period. This fund has the following objectives: renewable energy development, conservation, social rights satisfaction and reparation for past oil extraction. In Ecuador and some other parts of Latin America, exploration of a new economic model is underway which will no longer be based on the exploitation of the environment and humankind, especially reproductive labour. Groundwork is being laid for a post-oil ‘economy of care’ with increased civil society participation in democratic political processes.

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