The failure of the United Nations annual Conference (COP25) in Madrid in December 2019 to come up with a serious commitment to the climate change challenges does not portend well. The situation continues to cast a long shadow over our way of thinking about ourselves, the others, our home in the Universe, and our world. It interrogates more seriously the thoughts underlying our economic, political and social institutions as well as the so-called democratic and our ethical values. The human civilization has indeed invented the power of the atom that is capable wiping away a whole nation in a split second, yet it is incapable of finding a solution to the survival of the human species on the planet. We need a radically different way of thinking and a new pathway to re-calibrate the human consciousness that underlies our socio-economic systems and social relations if the human species must survive. We require a different spirituality and mindset beyond any religious belonging to dismantle the patriarchal mindset that has put the human species on the trajectory of self-destruction and collapse. Eco-Feminist Spirituality seems to provide a veritable pathway and different mindset to sustainable development in contrast to the patriarchy that has underpinned growth through the millennia.

There have been efforts to understand the workings of the universe through the millennia, but these have been with the patriarchal mindset of domination that has presented the universe in mechanical models. What stands out today as acceptable to everyone is that Ecology is concerned with communities, systems and wholes; that it understands nature as an interrelationship of organisms and their environments; that it continually seeks a vision of the whole: the organic interdependence of everything with everything else; but what has been a major challenge remains the acceptance a concrete pathway to maintain the obvious. The resistance does not come as a surprise because it challenges our foundational unconscious assumption underlying our social and economic systems. Nevertheless, this is the core value that Eco-Feminist Spirituality promotes in our civilization, even though her voice is always put down by the louder and more systematically entrenched patriarchy.

Eco-feminism is an organic way of looking at development and provides a transformative path both at the individual and societal levels. At the individual level, it is a process of conversion, transcendence and renewal. It is a change in consciousness that leads to a change in behaviour while at the societal level, it sets the next stage for our global intellectual and socio-economic evolution. It challenges the socially constructed patriarchal set of fundamental beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions such as domination, competition, exclusion, mechanical, hierarchy, and exploitation. Eco-feminism upholds the inclusive and basic principles of an ecological community such as interdependence, integration, solidarity, diversity, resilience, adaptability and limits as alternatives.

Among other things, Eco-Feminism seeks the full inclusion of women in political and economic spheres, transformation of the patriarchal socioeconomic systems so that the world benefits from their ocean of potentials. It also seeks the analysis of culture and consciousness that underly the domination of women and the male monopolization of resources and power. It underlines that the abuse of the earth and the abuse of women are both historically linked in a patriarchal conceptual framework, and these it seeks to transform along with other social orders that promote human oppression and environmental abuse. Furthermore, it observes that the link between the exploitation of the earth and the marginalization of women is intrinsically related to forgetting the Creator Spirit who pervades the world in the colourful dance of life

Eco-Feminist Spirituality is a commitment to the process of changing patriarchy and the spreading of the transformation that it brings. It echoes the thoughts of Thomas Merton that those who attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening their own self-understanding, freedom and capacity to love, will have nothing to give others. They will communicate to others nothing but the contagion of their own obsessions, their aggressiveness, their ego-centered ambition, their delusions about ends and means, their doctrinal prejudices and ideas[1].

In the preamble to the Earth Charter, we read that, all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature[2]. The fundamental demand of the Earth Charter requires a change in people’s spirituality and ethical values. Without such a transformative change, the basic principles of the Earth Charter for a new paradigm shift for development, a people-led development, a development which is pro-poor, pro-nature, pro-woman for global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family and the larger living world will sadly remain a mirage.

Chika Onyejiuwa, CSSp


[1] Thomas Merton,

[2] Earth Charter, 2000

Judith Plant ed, Healing the Wounds: The promise of Feminism. New Society Publisher, 1989.

Mary Mellor, Feminism & Ecology. New York University Press, 1997.