The Politics of the Environment: Australian Women’s Activism in the Greens Party

By Yulia Maleta.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article considers the barriers and enablers facing Australian Greens women participating within the interdisciplinary fields of environmentalism. The thematic qualitative data analysis and supporting feminist/ecofeminist and movement literature illuminates the challenges and successes of Australian Greens women within political and everyday practices. It is argued, in this research that hu(man)kind possesses a social role and an ethical responsibility in advocating for equity and democracy within the natural and built environments. Drawing upon my contemporary data, some Australian women identified themselves as ecological feminists or ecofeminists, in that their activism was related to a feminine connection with the natural world and a belief in renewable energy versus resource-based approaches. A full-time Greens mother of three commented that a maternal identity and green versus consumer ideals enabled her to educate her family and community. The majority of participants were university educated, possessed a strong work ethic and commitment towards environmentalism, which has been found in studies of Greens women representing high levels of political engagement in North-West Europe, namely Germany and Finland (Carter, 2007: 97). Empirical data here identified a gender mix in the Australian Greens, whereby women were articulate and competent political actors with excellent inter-personal and communicational skills, whose conciliatory role lessened conflict during adversive negotiations. Older women highlighted their extensive feminist and environmental activism, and drew upon their continuous struggles for equality, fairness and policy reform; nevertheless, these women possessed expert knowledge in environmental governance and complex negotiations. A conclusive finding was that Australian Greens women viewed themselves as lifetime activists in the politics of the environment, whose ethical worldview and lobbying strategies enhanced the interrelated role of humanity towards achieving a sustainable social and natural world.

Keywords: Feminism/Ecofeminism, Environmentalism, Australian Greens, Qualitative, Sustainable, Politic, Everyday, Social and Natural World

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 11, pp.187-200. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 672.974KB).

Dr. Yulia Maleta

PhD Candidate, Social Justice Social Change Research, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Yulia Maleta is a final year PhD Candidate and casual academic located in Social Justice Social Change Research and the School of Social Sciences at the University of Western Sydney Australia. Her interdisciplinary sociological thesis involves researching the gendered and socio-political experiences of women salaried and voluntary environmentalists participating in paid and unpaid work settings/contexts of the Australian environmental movement. It focuses on qualitative methods, feminist theories/methodologies as well as activist engagement and social movement engagement. She has presented her qualitative research findings at reputable conference events, including the landmark Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Queens (Belfast) and in Sydney, Australia, the University of Technological Science (UTS) and Macquarie University. Following her Honours degree, she completed a research internship at the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. Her previous feminist research on the socio-cultural roles, identities and experiences of Australian women rural fire fighters in a traditional male vocation has been published in the Journal of Sociology: Maleta, Y. (2009) ‘Playing with fire: Gender at work and the Australian female cultural experience within rural fire fighting,’ Journal of Sociology 45, 3, pp. 291-306.

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