Jeanette Schrewe is a firefighter in Hessen.

The fourth wave of feminism: women and fire

From Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf and Judith Butler to Malala Yousafzai – the so-called fourth wave of feminism has seen people mobilized through social media. Undoubtedly, many have recognized the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment and assault.

This wave also comes with a claim for cultural products to portray women’s role in history. Long before there was Internet, women in the US were pursuing equal opportunities as they fought wildfires side by side with men in the 1910s. Your Natural Forest magazine recently published “Drawn to Flame: Women Forged by Wildfire”, an article on women who found their way into fighting wildfire.

In this feature, Dayle Wallien writes about women who have been trained to fight forest fires since 1915, during times when men were heavily engaged in the U.S. military or when a large number of ongoing fires outpaced male-only crews’ capacity.

“This culture, where there is pressure to be the toughest, the baddest and the best, wasn’t an easy one for women to break into”,  writes Wallien. The publication recounts the story of Molly Day, Sara Knapp, Shelly Allen and Lacey England. These women were part of the elite crews: hotshots, rappel and smokejumpers. This vindicates the role of women and their crucial contributions to fighting wildfires.

EFI’s Resilience Programme conducts research on resilient forest. And resilience also means that societies need be inclusive and plural. According to an assessment published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) this year, women are still inadequately addressed in forestry research published in scientific journals. There is more to be done. The different challenges that climate change poses requires everybody to negotiate the gender paradigm and fully integrate a rainbow array of actors.

In light of the Agenda 2030, the fifth Sustainable Development Goal strives to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, leaving no one behind. Rósa Guðrún Erlingsdóttir, head of the equality unit at Iceland’s welfare ministry, recently told The Guardian that equality will not happen by itself. That is why it is impactful to spread the word about women in different fields and highlight their role in making the world more resilient to changes.

Furthermore, women are more vulnerable to climate change. Here are some some articles that elaborate on this issue:

Photo: Jeanette Schrewe, a firefighter in Hessen.

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