Little do Americans and Europeans know where the clothes they are wearing come from? They are made in factories in the Third World packed mostly with young women who had no chance of going to school. They will be forever trapped in the cycle of poverty working for little wages and long hours. I greatly agree with Andy Smith that colonization and not overpopulation is the cause of poverty in the Third world (Smith 27). Actually it was colonization in the past and imperialism in the present that is to blame for poverty. People in the Third World are forced into congested urban cities in the name of development from their native rural settings where they lived for thousands of years and did subsistence farming just to work for pennies in factories to export goods back to the developed world. In the exchange they lose their entire life, happiness and leisure time.
Thus the current global system of Patriarchal capitalism that the world is running on is as detrimental as cancer which Ecofeminism is set to cure. The environment is valueless unless it has something to offer to keep the capitalist system running and profits are more important than preserving the earth for future generations and people are exploited to the greatest extent just to make enormous wealth for the top 1 percent at the expense of the rest 99 percent. The Occupy movement in the U.S. is the proof that people are rising up to the great inequality facing the nation since the 1970s. The income and wealth of the top 1 percent has skyrocketed while the income of the rest has greatly declined with millions of people living in poverty with unemployment benefits and food stamps as the only path left for survival.
Coming from one of the most least developed countries in the world, I know how inequality and oppression of women and nature go together in forming the patriarchal society. More than half the population of Bangladesh lives in poverty and the fact that it is a Muslim country women have to fight very hard to get equal rights as men and often are victims of great social oppression. Women are often underpaid and in many rural places denied education and are only restricted to their homes. Empowerment of women especially education is of utmost importance in protecting them from violence from males and making them financially solvent. The right education is very important to enlighten people to respect each other and also to protect the environment. For instance, if people do not know that trees give out oxygen and sustain life on earth they will continue to cut them for the timber.
The following photographs were taken by me when I was touring The Grameen Textile factories in Savar, Bangladesh in July, 2010. Most of the workers are teenagers or in their early 20s who dropped out of school and will never have a chance of education and a better life. They work 12 hour shifts 6 days a week and get paid about $30 dollars a month. There are millions of such workers in the country and there are often riots as workers demand higher wages. But still the owners of these textile factories are making a fortune as labor is so cheap and live a life of great luxury and drive expensive cars whereas their workers can hardly afford a single meal.
Smith, Andy. Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature. Ed. Karen Warren and Nisvan Erkal. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997. Print.