Happy International Women’s Day! Whilst not exactly celebratory thoughts I am none the less reflecting on the parallels between the causes (drivers) of violence against women (VAW) and what could be called ‘violence against nature’. The most significant contributing to factor to VAW is named as the culture of ‘male privilege’, in the national framework for the prevention of violence against women (Change the Story) and there are several named drivers of violence that can result in such a culture. It would be interesting to change the word ‘women’ for ‘nature’ in relation to these drivers and see what we get; here goes… The drivers of violence against nature are:
1. The acceptance and condoning of violence against nature.
2. The lack of opportunity for nature to contribute to decision making in public and private life.
3. The negative stereotyping of the identity and value of nature
4. The lack of equal and respectful relationships between men and women and nature.
My experience facilitating workshops with many many diverse groups about nature and wellbeing is that everyone has a positive story to tell about the experience with nature and the benefits it brings to their life; its wrong to assume that most people don’t care because studies show that in fact, they do. However there are many factors that make equal, respectful relationships difficult. If we go back to my theoretical drivers of violence towards nature, perhaps the most meaningful things we can be doing are these:
1. Stop allowing violence/destruction of nature to be acceptable
2. Hear natures voice in our planning and decision making
3. Recognise the nature around us and accept its intrinsic value and right to exist regardless of wether its pristine rainforest or the median strip on our street.
4. Challenge our sense of entitlement and dominion over nature
Respectful relationship education is about to begin in schools across the country with Victoria leading the way. It is compulsory for all schools to take a whole school approach to the prevention of violence against women through through this program. In order to fully understand respect for someone else and to develop a healthy relationship with other people, we must have respect and a healthy relationship with ourself too. I wonder if the impact of this program will flow on to also create respect and a healthy relationship with nature ? If it does then we have the trifector that could lead to a dramatic increase in community wellbeing. I wonder what we can do to help schools make this link?! Just a thought….