Re-examining Women, Water, and Environmental Change

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Routledge

Reviewing A Political Ecology of Women, Water and Global Environmental Change, edited by Stephanie Buechler and Anne-Marie Hanson, Routledge, 2015

 

Stephanie Buechler and Anne-Marie Hanson’s A Political Ecology of Women, Water and Global Environmental Change conveys the need to alter the traditional discourse surrounding global environmental change, particularly the management of water resources. The book proposes that employing a feminist political ecology (FPE) framework when studying communities dependent on vulnerable water resources can provide a more inclusive and intersectional understanding of the issues and its complexities.

The editors broaden the discussion by pushing authors from various theoretical disciplines, ideological perspectives, and societal realms to the forefront. These players recount stories from around the globe that highlight the social and economic challenges faced by women subject to adverse environmental factors. Significant issues such as critical livelihood studies, water management, and water pollution, among others, are given a fresh perspective by highlighting the intersection of gender with water management policies and practices.

Bringing to light both the challenges and the successes of women affected by environmental change, the chapters within the book emphasize the importance of looking to spaces of everyday life for sources of knowledge and understanding. More importantly, the book stresses the need to include alternative forms of knowledge, such as Eleanor Hayman’s collaborative chapter with Mark Wedge/Aan Gooshú and Colleen James/Gooch Tláa on Indigenous storytelling. Buechler and Hanson do an excellent job in creating a space that is open to the voices of women to share their personal experiences and insightful knowledge. Throughout the book, examples of women’s lived experiences are recounted through different scales, such as Patricia Perkins and Patricia Walker’s chapter on different groups of women involved in local and global community engagement programs; different sources, like the audio–visual sources discussed in Citt Williams and Ivan Golovnev’s chapter; and different perspectives, resonated throughout the book with each chapter clearly respecting the voices of those sharing their challenges and triumphs in the face of environmental change.

Buechler and Hanson have compiled 12 chapters that illustrate the diverse challenges faced by different individuals, communities, and societies in relation to water resources. The authors highlight that the traditional discourse surrounding these challenges neglect to consider several socio-economic and socio-geographic factors, particularly social differences that intersect with gender. By shifting the methodological lens from which these challenges are viewed and providing diverse, alternative perspectives, forwarding thinking theories and practices are presented as a framework to develop new solutions to these issues. However, in keeping with FPE’s philosophy, Buechler and Hanson’s book does not try to provide a governing, all-encompassing solution to combating climate change. Rather, the book provides a much-needed platform to facilitate a collective dialogue in order to understand the complex social, economic, and environmental challenges being experienced across the globe.

This book will be of interest to a wide array of readers; however, those particularly interested in environmental studies, feminist and gender studies, critical theory, and public policy would benefit greatly from reading this book. At its very core, the book promotes an inclusive and fresh approach to research that would benefit academics and professionals alike.