(By Dr. Muryani, S.E., M.Si., MEMD)
Environmental problems are not only a problem for our country, but a global problem. The real environmental issue is a joint problem and requires a solution by sitting together with both developing and developed countries. Indonesia is one of the countries that is developing the economy through improvements in all aspects, namely energy, food and industrialisation. However, economic activity is not the least that leads to the destruction and destruction of natural resources and the environment and endanger human health. For example, cheap land rent per year results in damage to land and waste generated. The availability of abundant water results in patterns of use that tend to damage and pollute, as does air. Vandana Shiva, as an environmental activist, said the nature in which we live is undermined human life itself with certainty. Shiva’s criticise capitalistic neoliberalism from his analysis of the history of modern science based on a masculine way of thinking. Masculine way of thinking is characterised by rational, competitive, aggressive, and dominative tendencies. This principle is different from Shiva, who adheres to the fair policy, where female humans are more intuitive, more willing to coordinate and cooperate and are more inclined to care. More than that, according to him, economic development as a condition of modernisation is more directed to manipulate and motivate people to conquer nature. The presence of environmental ethics tends to be ignored, merely as a discourse without being internally internalised in any development policy. The environment is only presented as if inanimate objects that have no continuous connection with humans. Islam is considered to have no life. Economic activities that involve women and have an environmental perspective where putting nature as a creature that deserves respect and its sustainability is called eco-feminism.
Vandana Shiva’s view of ecofeminism is a contribution to the world of education, which is an effort to raise awareness in humans with severe environmental realities surrounding humans. However, there are many field facts that the female characters that are in line with the principle of femininity of the natural environment provide a real contribution to the preservation of nature. Conversely, if the law of masculinity dominates life, it will tend to conquer nature and the tendency of oppression of women as people who are considered feminine. Therefore, Shiva gives the view that the solution to the problem of gender relations and protecting the environment, must be done through involving the role of women as mothers, caregivers, and caregivers in the family and the environment by using the principle of pure femininity.
Since the formation of civilised communities, women have made a significant contribution to conservation, management and use of resources (Saleh, 2014). The effort is manifested in the activities of managing agricultural land, plants, animals, forests, and the use of renewable energy. Women contribute through the skills, time, energy, and personal vision they have solely for the welfare of their families and communities. Reasonable management efforts are carried out to ensure environmental development in Indonesia, so this effort will minimise environmental damage while increasing the relationship between humans and the environment (and their living things) within an ecological framework.
Women have a stable relationship with the surrounding natural environment. Moreover, its activities are inseparable from finding food and clothing resources for her family. This also happens to women who are near forest areas to collect forest resources (non-timber) to meet family needs (Agrawal in Sunkar, 2017). This phenomenon has occurred in several countries such as Nepal which have women aged over 35 years who have extensive knowledge about the use of plants. This effort is expected by the Nepalese government to support tree regeneration and reduce the number of trees felled. Besides, in Nepal, there are other countries such as Sudan, Malawi, and several other states that have extensive forest resources. In fact, in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, women are involved in the management and use of wildlife. Knowledge about the use of various biota is self-taught through experience of interaction with forest resources in the area.
Rural communities in a developing country are very close to natural resources, such as wood, mangroves, charcoal, and agriculture (Sida, 2016). In some states, women will be primarily responsible for providing energy to households. However, efforts to meet the availability of power by women still use simple technology, so that efficiency is not optimal. For example, in the use of traditional stoves that require a lot of materials to produce energy, such as wood, kerosene, and matches. Then, realising this, various communities have developed more efficient energy development, including the Solar Sister organisation that seeks to provide business and marketing training for women. This community has been developed in several countries, including Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria. The existence of a similar population as a follow-up to inefficiencies in the use of energy to meet daily needs should be more developed so that when homemakers use energy more efficiently, economic costs can be reduced. The existence of a community in providing environmentally friendly energy, for example, solar energy, actually increases the closeness of women to the environment.
Proximity of women to the environment occurs, one of which is a result of historical women as victims of environmental damage. For example, the case of deforestation that occurred had an impact on forest destruction and loss of forest resources that are commonly used by women. This requires women to travel further distances to collect wood (Kumar and Hotchkiss in Sunkar, 2017). Eventually, women will realise how important it is to protect the environment. Gifford Pinchot’s writing in 1910 as one of the world’s pioneers of conservation states that the United States is very dependent on the success of its preservation of women’s knowledge about protection. This has implications for the role of government in increasing the understanding of women, in particular, to be able to know more about environmental protection. In other words, if the number of women who understand about environmental management and resource conservation is high, then the level of environmental quality will increase.
Women, as part of the community, should be able to participate in monitoring the potential for environmental degradation that will cause health problems (Darmastuti et al., 2012). The occurrence of various pollution should be able to move and become the attention of women. Actions that should be carried out must also be accompanied by women’s knowledge related to the environment, so that women will be responsive to the environment. Besides, the potential for injustice that occurs when pollution and the environment require women to respond quickly so that this does not happen. It was concluded that women are required to be supervisors of the potential environmental damage that occurs.
Ecofeminism is a matter that must be considered given the influence of environmental changes on the existence of women. The 2007 Retno Wulan Tyas Study stated that in 1984, on December 2-3, 40 tons of toxic gas had been released from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India. This incident caused 3,000 deaths, and 400,000 people still feel the effects. The impact has been dominated to date by women. In addition to these events, there is a significant impact if the environment changes is the pregnancy process of a woman or her reproductive organs. Studies conducted in Wisconsin, USA in 1990 stated that pregnancy abnormalities were often found to reach 400% from 1970 to 1987.
In addition to the things mentioned above, Tyas Retno’s study also suggested that environmental pollution would have an impact on the health of infants. This is based on the findings of 866 cases of breastfed infants whose mothers experience infection that affects the milk. In other words, the actual impact of changes in quality on the environment will have a more significant impact on women, especially mothers, as one of the agents that provide intake to the family. Therefore, the relationship between women and the environment through ecofeminism should be implemented and sustainable, so that environmental management can be based on experience (women as the biggest victims of environmental damage), so that its implementation is more maximal.
Field facts have illustrated that women have an essential role in the continuity of sustainable development. Sustainable development which is understood as a development while considering the existence of the future through controlling the use of resources and environmental quality, will require the participation of women in its implementation. With the presence of a relatively equal female population with men, so too can education be ensured that women’s involvement in achieving sustainable development can be expected to increase. Under these conditions, the participation of women in the succession of attaining sustainable development should begin with the placement of women not only as objects of development as has been done so far, but also makes women the subjects of development (Hastuti, 2009). The current condition is to make women as objects of development starting from the micro to the macro level so that the potential number of female population is less effectively utilised.
Various legal grounds have been attempted to be built to support women’s involvement in development in potential and positive manner. One of them is Law No. 10 of 2008 concerning Legislative Elections, and Law No. 2 of 2008 concerning Political Parties (Political Parties), the quota for women’s involvement in politics is 30 per cent, mainly for sitting in parliament (Darmastuti et al., 2012). This law implies that women can have direct involvement in various policy-making, especially relating to the environment. For example, in the Law on Environmental Protection and Management (UU PLH) listed in Article 69 of Law Number 32 Year 2009. The existence of this law and the law on women’s quota in the legislature will further increase the potential of women to be involved in protecting the environment. Then, the Life Protection and Management Plan (RPPLH) part III of the UUPPLH and Strategic Environmental Assessment (Article 15 of Law No. 32 of 2009) states that women can participate in making certainty about policies towards development in an area must be based on sustainable principles and guarantee no damage to the environment (Darmastuti et al., 2012). Therefore, this legal tool further strengthens women’s involvement in carrying out environmentally sustainable principles.
Efforts to make women the subject of development mean to involve women in the development process of a country. The involvement of women is not only in the ranks of the legislature or parliament, but also the participation of women as civil society who will also feel the effects of development. This effort can be made through integration between gender perspectives in various development processes so that in the end, the development objectives do not harm any of the groups. In accordance with the statement of the Hyogo Framework of Action organized by the United Nations (UN) in 2005 which states that “A gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster risk management policies, plans, and decision-making processes, including those related to risk assessment, early warning, information management, and education and training “(Darmastuti et al., 2012). Based on this statement, it is clear that the UN is trying to direct various elements of life by considering multiple perspectives. For example, in disaster risk management, planning, and decision making processes. This is because the risks that occur due to these multiple conditions sometimes each gender has different dependencies, so it requires a separate perspective from women when developing development plans in a country, especially those concerning nature and the environment. For example, on mitigating global warming that can be done by women through the use of natural cosmetic equipment without booster gases such as hair spray and perfume. Or the idea of a movement, for example, the campaign to plant trees to increase the urban lung area or protect water resources. These efforts can be made by women in increasing their contribution to life, while minimising the position of women as those who feel the most impact from environmental change.
Apart from the aspect of the impact caused the existence of women as a party who feels more the effect of an environmental change is at the level of physical and economic development in a country. This development will have implications for sustainable development that takes into account the very existence of the environment in it. The Ester Boserup study discussed in the Tyas Retno study also states that the traditional division of labour has changed along with the development process. The impact is that women are more disadvantaged because of marginalisation of women. When the Green Revolution was predicted to increase the welfare of peasants, it even increased the position of marginalised women because of the capitalist agricultural structure of the Green Revolution. Therefore, development should be able to not only focus on men who are the dominant development actors but also focus on women as a unit of creatures that will be affected by the development that occurs in a country. Ideally, it involves both parties to contribute to the success of physical and human development jointly.
Evaluation of the impact of development on women has also been carried out by the community and the Indonesian government, one of which is the evaluation of population aspects. The existence of development efforts through population management due to population explosion has a big impact on women. Through the Family Planning (KB) program, which is expected to control the population, the program tends to cause suffering for women. Following the explanation from Shiva and Mies in the Ema Khotimah study in 2004 mentioned that the Family Planning program that has been undertaken by women has an impact on physical and structural violence. There are some cases that mention that the application of contraceptives treat women inhumanely. During the period of contraceptive use, women have the potential to experience significant pain due to technical and medical errors. This pain arises not as a result of maintaining their fertility, but rather because of maintaining productivity by using contraception. Even worse, infertility that occurs also results from the application of contraceptive methods that damage organs (Dalkon Shield in Khotimah, 2004). In the end, it was women who were blamed for the failure of the program, as well as feeling physical losses due to inhumane and inadequate program implementation.
The emergence of negative impacts on women as a result of government development targets that are not well targeted is very unfortunate given the many advantages explicitly and implicitly owned by women, especially in terms of natural resource management. The Sunkar Study (2017) states that women have good traditional knowledge about a variety of plants, which contributes to food security. Direct involvement with natural resources makes women’s skills sharper in the use of available resources. However, this vast potential is often constrained institutionally, including the absence of women’s negotiating abilities (O’Neil and Domingo in Sunkar, 2017). In other words, women know many things about resources and can manage them well, but are unable to trade them in the market. In this condition, finally, the role of sales is carried out by men whose contribution is more recognised in improving the country’s economy. Therefore, this phenomenon is one of the causes of women’s sacrifice for the country’s development indirectly not identified.
The substantial contribution of women in many aspects to development becomes an irony if the sacrifice has not been assessed as part of a strategic participation in many aspects, such as in Natural Resource Management (PSDA) (Saleh, 2014). In other words, the existence of women is not recognised as a contributor to development because of the assumption that the sacrifice or contribution made by women is indeed the nature of obligation that should be done by a woman. Women’s domestic work has never been considered a valuable service (Saleh, 2014). For example in the case of homemakers who have sacrificed much in taking care of their children or looking for energy sources to meet household needs, are not recognised and legalised in the workforce (Saleh, 2014). In other words, being a housewife by taking care of a child is seen as not contributing at all to develop. Therefore, this condition is increasingly showing that the undervaluation of contributions made by women should be minimised.
From the explanation above, it can be said that development which is supposed to aim at the welfare of the entire population harms a particular group, in this case, women. The adverse effects that occur on women as one of the objects of development implementation should be able to be anticipated, given that women can also contribute in various ways for development. Therefore, through this book, the author seeks to provide multiple perspectives of women as one of the people who do not deserve to be underestimated. Some women have become more dynamic in the current era, especially in their contribution to the country’s development. But more needs to be done to raise the dignity of women today, as a result of past policies that put women behind in many aspects. Development as a whole has not been called growth if it has not involved women, especially in the fields of fields and essential elements and in strategic decision making, especially concerning the management of natural resources and the environment.