Walking the Green Feminist Road

Building the Movement
Women are our greatest strength. We are more than half of the world’s population, we are an enormous global constituency. WILPF maintains and builds this network as a safe and inclusive organisation, using it to advance ideas and create momentum for change.
Socio-Economic Justice
Neoliberalism has brought us inequality, exclusion, and environmental destruction. Its very nature makes it an obstacle to peace and justice. WILPF analyses, raises awareness, and advocates for alternatives to neoliberalism. Lasting peace requires fairer economic systems and protection of people and planet.

From the devastating wildfires in Australia and California to extreme weather in India and Bangladesh, in 2020 it was more clear than ever that the world is facing a profound environmental crisis.

As a global organisation working for peace and human security, WILPF is committed to raising awareness about the impacts of militarism, patriarchy, and capitalism on the world’s ecosystems – and how the environmental harm created by these oppressive systems deepens socio-economic inequality.

That’s why, as part of our commitment to highlighting and acting on the root causes of climate change, in 2020 we focused not only on what the world can do – but on what we can do.

Asking ourselves how we can operate in a more climate-friendly and socially responsible way, we strategised how to elevate diverse perspectives on climate justice and further integrate action on the environment into our work.

But first: what do climate justice and social inequality have in common?

Climate justice isn’t only good for the planet. It’s also critical for achieving an equitable future in which the rights of all people are recognised, respected, and upheld.

Environmental destruction and social oppression have always gone hand in hand.

Women are disproportionately impacted by climate change because they are more likely to lack access to and power over natural resources. They are also less likely to be represented in decision-making processes, which prevents women from fully contributing to climate-related planning, policy making, and implementation – ultimately deepening the inequalities they face.

In addition, capitalist systems that prioritise profit over well-being have enabled powerful mining industries that negatively impact the lives of people in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. With policies and practices rooted in legacies of colonialism and present-day racism, multinational companies are exploiting resources in the Global South, international aid systems are creating hierarchies, and the geopolitical priorities of international powers are dividing populations by exacerbating ethnic and sectarian divisions.

It doesn’t stop there. Despite the ever-growing climate crisis, trillions of dollars that could be used to address climate change are instead being poured into weapons and conflict. At the same time, many military activities are highly polluting and have disastrous impacts on social security and access to food, water, and services.

Taken together, environmental challenges and social inequalities are both the cause and effect of the structures WILPF seeks to dismantle.

Sharing stories of hope for a green feminist future

Illustration from zine

To showcase the environmental justice work of WILPFers around the world, on World Environment Day 2020 we launched a zine called Down the Green Feminist Road that shares stories from WILPF Sections and Groups on projects they undertook in 2019 using the WILPF Environment Grant.

In contrast to the 24-hour news cycle, which is filled with climate change disasters and stagnant politics, Down the Green Feminist Road brings stories of hope and progress. Using a creative, accessible, and highly visual format, the zine helped us reach a global audience of climate justice advocates and allies.

Among the stories included in the publication were a look into WILPF Burkina Faso’s work on women’s land rights, WILPF Lebanon’s efforts to create healthier environments for refugees, WILPF Kenya’s innovative mama bomas, and WILPF Sweden’s commitment to shedding light on the link between militarism and the climate.

Spead sample from Zine titled Women supporting Women.

Jamila Afghani, President of WILPF Afghanistan, also spoke with us about her Section’s tree-planting initiative.

“Because of the war, some of the jungles are [being] destroyed by the government because warriors [hide] themselves behind the trees,” Jamila says in a video created to showcase the initiative. “[And because] most people do not have better economic resources, they are cutting the jungle for firewood.”

To help restore Afghanistan’s forests, in 2019 WILPF Afghanistan planted more than 10,000 trees. To learn more about the Section’s efforts, watch the video below.

In the lead-up to the launch of Down the Green Feminist Road, we prepared a package for members, Sections and external partners to help them amplify the message and extend the reach of the zine.

Starting from the ground up

In January, as part of WILPF International Secretariat’s annual Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning meeting, WILPF staff discussed methods of care for the planet and for ourselves. We brainstormed everything from how our emails and data emit pollution to ways to control the extent of travel that comes with our work. We also reflected on the importance of rest and mental well-being in ensuring the sustainability of our work.

WILPF staff group photo

From these discussions, we formed a staff group and started building an environmental and social responsibility policy specific to our work. We hired an environmental consultant and activist, who initiated conversations with staff and members about our priorities, and we exchanged ideas with the UN Environmental Programme on opportunities to integrate environmental priorities into our advocacy.

In addition, WILPF’s Environmental Working Group convened consultations with members, who reinforced our collective commitment to address environmental issues as an integral part of our work for socio-economic justice, human rights, and feminist peace.

Building knowledge, taking action

Our concern for the environment is nothing new.

In 1915 – the year WILPF was founded – Elin Wägner of WILPF Sweden stated that “Everything that disturbs nature’s self-activity must be removed or we too.”

Today, as the world faces an accelerating climate crisis and the deepening socio-economic inequalities brought about by a lack of environmental action, WILPF is more committed than ever to taking action for justice – justice for the climate, for human rights and security, and for a future in which peace, not profit, is the goal.

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Afghanistan Nature gives and we must give back

(WILPF logo on blue background.)
(White background on which appear coloured visuals representing a long green road crossing the image, a warplane, a submarine, fishes, people protesting, a tree and a hot balloon on which is written “Ama la paz”.)
(White and green background alternating rapidly on which is written: “Down the green feminist road”.)
(Green background on which is written: “Afghanistan”.)
(View on the city of Kabul, its buildings and pollution fogging the landscape.)
This climate and pollution and in our country is getting very worse day by day.
(Blue and black background with Jamila Afghani seated and speaking – interview mode.)
Because of the war some of the jungles are destroyed by government because most of the time warriors are hiding themselves behind the trees.
(Kabul landscapes with the city in the front and mountains in the back.)
Due to the severity of the cold lots of trees were cut off. Most of people do not have better economical resources.
(Streets of Kabul – pollution is visible in the air.)
They are cutting the jungle for firewood and people are using not only wood but also coal and also plastic, rubber…
(View of Kabul. We can barely see the buildings because of the polluted grey air.)
It has created a lot of pollution in the environment.
(People walking in the mountain. The air is still extremely polluted and we can barely see anything.)
Most people have got respiratory problems.
(Picture of a young girl in a hospital bedroom. She’s accompanied by a woman and wearing a mask of respiratory aid.)
A large number of people are sick, especially children and women.
(Blue and black background with Jamila Afghani seated and speaking – interview mode.)
That’s why WILPF Afghanistan working with men women and youths to promote culture of peace not only in their personal and social life but also for the environment.
(People – men, women and children – planting trees in deserted fields.)
Afghanistan has very beautiful trees. Last year we cultivated more than 10,000 trees and young girls were looking after the trees for watering the trees and female teachers were giving us report for the growth of the trees.
(Blue and black background with Jamila Afghani seated and speaking – interview mode.)
And hopefully in the next two years these trees will bring in fruit.
(People – men, women and children – planting trees in deserted fields. Someone is holding a sign that says: “Let’s plant for protection of our city environment.”)
At least at the moment they are contributing to our oxygen in a way or another way.
(Two men holding a small tree and a sign that says: “Let’s plant for protection of our city environment.”)
(Blue and black background with Jamila Afghani seated and speaking – interview mode.)
We had different discussions with the local community about the usage of coal and plastic, and usually we are using tannur
(Picture of a tannur.)
Tannur – it’s a big hole within which we put a fire and in which we cook.
(Two women seated near tannurs on fire.)
(Blue and black background with Jamila Afghani seated and speaking – interview mode.)
It’s done by women and then their health is also very badly impacted.
(Woman seated on the ground near a tannur, baking bread.)
So, we were also communicating with women about the usage of proper resources in their tannur.
(War tanks in the middle of deserted field.)
Unfortunately, I wish the money which was spent on war, was spent on development of the country.
(Children playing in a deserted field, surrounded by war tank wrecks.)
It could have been a very very different situation.
(Blue and black background with Jamila Afghani seated and speaking – interview mode.)
So, women can be playing a very major role –
(Women seated around a table, talking together and taking notes in a room. On a wall there’s a sign that says: “Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Afghanistan Section.” Jamila Afghani is with them.)
-for promoting a feminist approach of environmental justice.
(Blue and black background with Jamila Afghani seated and speaking – interview mode.)
We are hopeful for the future.
(People planting trees in deserted fields. Someone is holding a sign that says: “Let’s plant for protection of our city environment.”)
And we are hopeful for a better future for our children and for the next generation of our country.
(People – men, women and children – standing in front of a tree they just planted, smiling and holding a sign that says: “Let’s plant for protection of our city environment.” Slowly the picture becomes a drawing and the cover of the zine appears.)
(Green background on which is written: “Read more inspiring stories about women who are striving for environmental justice in the zine: Down the green feminist road. Available in English, French and Spanish on wilpf.org.”)
(Blue background on which we can read the credits.)
(WILPF logo on blue background.)


Creative Director – Nina Maria Mørk Hansen

Authors – Adalmiina Erkkola (stories), Emily Dontsos (stories), Molly Jerlström (Section snippets), Elena Cason (Section snippets), Tove Ivergård (Section snippets)

Copyeditor – Emily Dontsos

Video transcripts – Adélaïde Barat-Magan

Design – Nadia Joubert

Development – Pierre Joubert

Thank you to Laila Alodaat & Rasha Jarhum (The Women Leading Yemen’s Peace Movement), Elena Cason, Madeleine Rees, Ray Acheson & Nela (WILPF’s COVID-19 Response: Action for Change), Zarin Hamid & Genevieve Riccoboni (Over Two Decades Later, What Have These Women’s Rights Milestones Really Achieved?), Katrin Geyer and Ray Acheson (Feminists for Nuclear Disarmament) and Maria Butler, Jenny Aulin & Elena Cason (Walking the Green Feminist Road) for their help in writing the stories of change and giving feedback on them.

Photo contributions by: Irina Popa, Nela Porobić Isaković, Ari Beser, Korea Peace Now, Charlotte Hooij, dinosmichail, Unsplash, Adobe Stock, WILPF Sections and Groups in Aotearoa, Australia, Argentina, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and Togo. Photos from WILPF Archives, WILPF International Secretariat

Videos contributions by: The Story, Tay Blyth-Kubota, Joanna Maxwell-Scott, Antoine Guide,