FORMER IRISH PRESIDENT MARY ROBINSON LINKS FEMINISM AND FIGHT AGAINST WARMING IN NEW INITIATIVE

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24 july 2018

Mary Robinson launches new feminist fight against climate change

Fiona Harvey, The Guardian via Business Green, 24 July 2018

Women around the world who are leading the fight against climate damage are to be highlighted by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner, in the hopes of building a new global movement that will create "a feminist solution for climate change".

Perhaps more revolutionary still, the new initiative is light-hearted in tone, optimistic in outlook and presents positive stories in what the originators hope will be seen as a fun way.

Called Mothers of Invention, the initiative will kick off with a series of podcasts showcasing the work of grassroots climate activists at a local level, as well as globally resonant initiatives such as the legal challenges under way in numerous jurisdictions to force governments to adhere to the Paris agreement goals. Scientists and politicians feature alongside farmers and indigenous community leaders from Europe, the US and Australia to India, Kenya, South Africa and Peru.

The podcast is a first for Robinson, who has focused on climate justice for the last 15 years through her charity, the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice, and as one of the Elders group, after seeing at first-hand as UN commissioner for human rights the danger that global warming presents to women whose lives are already precarious.

"Climate change is a manmade problem that requires a feminist solution," she said ahead of the podcast launch. "What we are hoping to do is create a movement. Climate change is not gender-neutral - it affects women far more. So this is not about climate change, it is about climate justice."

The movement, she added, would grow organically from the women who feature and the women who join in: "It will be happening in an unstructured way, which is all the better, because we are not prescribing what a feminist solution should look like, we are listening - we want women to tell us what they want. That to me is more interesting."

Robinson has paired with Maeve Higgins, an Irish-born comedian based in New York and self-styled "sidekick". They jointly introduce their female guests through a series of informal conversations larded with backchat and jokes - an unusual way of presenting the often gloomy subject of climate damage, Higgins admits, but one she hopes will reach people more effectively than the standard models of climate communication and male-dominated discourse.

"There is a lot of doom and gloom - this is not like that," Higgins said. "This is for people like myself who feel stuck, knowing there are actions they should be taking but paralysed by despondency. The capitalist patriarchy is not going to solve this. We need to."

The internet provides the means to reach women all over the world, she said: "This is democratic, this is available to as many people as possible."

The series will bring in issues of colonialism, racism, poverty, migration and social justice and how these are bound up with feminism and the effects of climate change, and will include related environmental issues such as plastic pollution.

Podcasts are new departure for Robinson. "This is taking me way beyond my comfort zone," she said. But "I'm willing to go there - I am so urgent about the fact that we need to do more."

The first five episodes in the series, which is funded by philanthropic foundations, focus on women, but Robinson promised the initiative would not exclude men's voices. "We will include men in the future," she said, "but we have started with women, who have found it hard to be heard. A feminist solution to climate change involves everyone."


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