The Current Plight of Women
Paul Harrison in his book The Third Revolution saw women’s education as a link to both reducing population AND caring for privately owned land. More and more males are forced to leave the family plots in search of outside incomes. In Kenya, women form the backbone of the soil improvement schemes. In nearly all countries Around the world, including the developed nations, women still earn less than men, even for equal work. How is this possible? This is possible because women often negotiate to have more family support structures available than high positions. This situation in Australia has become worse since people have been encouraged by government to negotiate their income with their employer. Women spend more time caring and making houses into homes, have lower super-annuation savings, and spend more time in the home with children. It has been great to see women embrace permaculture to change their lifestyle, be more active, community enriching and more productive. Most integrated home sites have been implemented and maintained by women. Often the women had been part of the design process. When the user is part of the design, the design is more likely to succeed.
Women spend more often than men. On average, women buy more consumables than men. Men and Women buy big ticket items such as cars, boats, electronics and real-estate. Women also buy more consumables such as food, clothing, chemicals and nappies. These have more potential to pollute because there are less recycling and reclamation strategies in place. A simple plastic container never breaks down into organic matter. Plastics breaks down in harmful nanodes which can wash out to sea and attract heavy metals and fish and birds often think this is food. A simple toxic fly-spray is later digested or mopped and eventually washed into the sewerage and out to sea. It is vital that women understand the destructive power of goods in their regular spending.
In most ‘developed’ worlds women are the primary spenders, they are the main consumer power, and determine the path of most consumer waste. These are key aspects of Permaculture. Permaculture is an education, it has to be learnt. In some cultures many common sense traditions ingrain the ethics and basic truths of natural systems design, and build skills in young people for observing and managing elements of a harmonised lifestyle. But in most cultures, especially in western worlds, permaculture is an education.
Permaculture promotes ethical investment, it explores options about procreative rather than degenerative investment. Procreative investment is to invest in things that will procreate (develop, multiply, grow, have offspring). It includes preventive as well as pro-active measures. Education is capable of both.
Women are in prime positions to observe the effects of a poor environment on human health and happiness, and they can appreciate changes. Women can see the results of poor water quality, insufficient and inadequately nourishing food, stress, and fatigue. The issue of poor nutrition is global, not just in developing worlds.
In developing worlds women and children regularly endure long hours of farm and home care. They work in direct contact with the aged, the ill and nature herself. The fight to save those in their care is powerfully instinctive. One of our correspondence students works in a UNICEF village near Orissa, India. She wrote in search of something more they can do to reduce the appalling infant mortality.
Women are often the first to benefit from improvements, and unafraid of work to spare them long term ills or extra burdens. (Such as reducing water consumption to avoid carrying extra water, through to keeping perfumed sachets of herbs in drawers to prevent silverfish holes, or using black socks as a simple alternative to menstral pads).
Nature is close for women, more natural to them than the less-sustainable answers. Few women have enough disposable income, brute force or destructive inclination to do a lot of damage on the land. Women are practised at thinking, observing, collaborating, forming teams, managing families and communities and motivating others! They come to Permaculture interested in maximising the natural attributes of elements and climate: gently working with nature. The force of nature is intimate to women, especially mothers and carers, we agonise in childbirth. There is a cyclic reminder of our ancient brutal roots. We are instinctively caring and so feel the realities of finding food and enduring shelter.
It was initially surprising that over 85% of our enquiries for our Design course came from women. Yet, what was even more intriguing was that a lot more women sought to include their partners in the discount-for-couples incentive than the men. Men do benefit when they take the risk with their partners. They can invest in their partner and help develop her skills in the same way they would build hopes for their children’s future. The rewards will be closer to home too. What good is a lot of money in the bank and a wife busy spending it anyway? Permaculture women can assess the environmental impact of their expenditure and consumption too. They are encouraged to spend less of their hard-won cash and look to spend money on reducing the load or the debt.
Working families are often trapped with a great house by a great debt. Some environmentally sound options are to divide the housing, downsize, employ other people in a caring way, and share the surplus as you share the load. Time and resources are valuable to most people and so their education needs to be geared for high quality tuition. In cultures where women control most of the family money, permaculture courses must be directed to meet their needs. Child care can be offered and flexibility in times for classes or study.
“Nature shrinks as capital grows. The growth of the market cannot solve the very crisis it creates.” ― Vandana Shiva, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis
Listen here to talk by Vandana Shiva on Womens Rights and power of common people
Education | Procreative Investment | Health | Lifestyle and Home-based Productivity