Climate change, suffragettes, direct action

// 30 September 2008

climaterush.gifClimate change is a big problem. Direct action aimed at encouraging the government, and society in general, to do more to cut our greenhouse gas emissions is crucial.

So, a big thumbs up on that score to the Climate Rush:


Come to Parliament Square at 5.30pm on Monday 13th October.

Why not dress in period costume, or one of our stewards will give you the Climate Rush sash.

If we have a hope of stopping climate change we need to work together – men and women – all demanding a better future.

A range of inspirational women have agreed to speak: Rosie Boycott, Caroline Lucas (MEP and leader of the Green Party), Joy Greasley (Head of the Women’s Institute), Sam Roddick, Baroness Tonge and more…

For photos (of our Suffragettes) and news leading up to the Rush please check out our blog

We will present Gordon Brown with the latest climate researchand our demands:

1. No airport expansion.

2. No new coal-fire power station.

3. Cross-party policy in line with the most recent climate research and science.

Email to keep up to date with the latest speakers, plans and info.

This sounds like a really good event; it’s brilliant that it’s being organised – it’s really hard work to put these things together, so my critique here comes from a place of generally supporting the aims, objectives and so on of the protest, which I will almost definitely try to attend.

As I’ve banged on about, climate change is not gender neutral, and neither is/has been the green movement in general – check out the Women’s Environment Network‘s Women’s Manifesto on Climate Change if you want a good primer on some of the interconnections. Also see this piece on Grist, which draws some conclusions about how – as the environmental movement has become more mainstream, and thus more male-dominated – its objectives have shifted. Here’s yet another resource, which sets out a more international agenda. Gender CC is a great repository of research on this, and its networking listserv can put you in touch with women working on this all over the world.

But, but, but…

It feels to me like the connections are not being shouted loudly enough – dressing up as suffragettes, apparently, is about generalised “social change” and activism; there’s not a word on the blog or website that I can see about the deeply underreported likely impact of a changing climate on women. It seems like a massively missed opportunity. The blog shows images of protesters dressed up as suffragettes, but wearing sashes about airport expansion.

Meanwhile, the major international tools to tackle climate change currently in existance do not even mention gender or women – and we are coming up to a crucial point in the efforts to replace them; perhaps a good time to mention the concept to government. Awareness of the role of gender in climate change prevention and adaptation is at such a low that the New Scientist’s environment reporter only just realised (and dismissed) that it might exist.

Is Climate Rush a good thing? Absolutely. Is there a connection between the women’s and environmental movements? Absolutely. Shouldn’t a protest which so strongly references the women’s movement use the opportunity to bring up some of those interconnections?

Comments From You

Kirsty // Posted 1 October 2008 at 8:27 am

Why do all these events take place in London AND during the week?

marina pepper // Posted 1 October 2008 at 8:40 am

You raise some interesting points. Personally what I have found interesting about Climate Rush is that it’s made me go back and research the suffragettes.

Obviously the blatant sexism of the politicians of the day is overwhelming. Makes me feel genuinely queasy.

This prompts me to consider that similar (though a tad watered down) mindsets are still in force.

I would add that in my time working as a journalist and later to this day as a politician, it’s a constant concern of mine just what concerns readers and the electorate.

Climate change is no longer so forcibly denied. But people aren’t so interested in how it will affect a specific gender. Even less how it will affect people of different ethnicities (including all foreign counties). They want to know how climate change will affect their own personal standard of living. The more enlightened will also worry about their kids and perhaps even their grand kids’ future.

This is why, I would argue, that politicians have failed to act assertively to bring about whole scale change and ultimately salvation.

There’s not many votes in it. Nor indeed will the subject sell newspapers.

Climate Rush, however has excited people. Yes there’s a lot of chatter about costumes and fashion statements.

But then the suffragettes understood the importance of such things. The power represented by people coming together dressd in a non uniform uniform is incalculable. More so now than then. The revolution may not be televised. But Climate Rush will be.

The suffragettes wore purple white and green. We shall wear white with red sashes. The white is a nod to the suffragettes. The red a nod to the phrase CLIMATE CODE RED. It’s the name of a book which argues: imagine the arctic is the canary in the coalmine. Well I regret to inform you the canary is dead.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that there is much to be done to inform women in particular of the horrors globally that lie in wait as we approach climate change tipping point.

But for now we set our gender differences aside, muster all the angels we can gather together and armed only with the latest peer reviewed science…..we rush in.



Grace // Posted 2 October 2008 at 9:22 pm

Kirsty said:

Why do all these events take place in London AND during the week?

– took the words right out of my mouth! I’m really interested in this subject and am going to the Feminism and Climate Change seminar at Feminism in London the Saturday prior to this event, but feel a bit futile in terms of activism when everything is in the week! I understand that these things have to be in London as this is where the government are based though.

Anyway, sorry that’s not helping!

I heard on the radio this morning that there are considerations of rationing meat and dairy products in the future due to the large amount of emissions contributed to the atmosphere by the bodily gases of animals farmed for their meat/produce.

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds