In Solidarity with Women Everywhere

350PDX is joining climate justice groups across the Pacific Northwest in making statements supporting the women in our movement who are facing sexual harassment and other forms of gender based discrimination and violence.

Earlier this summer, an incredible movement organizer Zarna Joshi was sexually harassed while working on the “Block the Bunker” campaign in Seattle. She called her harasser out loudly, and was then intimidated by the law enforcement present into not reporting him. Since then, videos of the incident have been shared widely on social media, and Zarna has been subjected to an astonishing amount of stalking, death threats, rape threats, and further harassment over the internet, via phone and mail, and in person. Unfortunately, this type of thing is all too common.

As an organization that works to create positive social change, 350PDX recognizes the patriarchy as a social system we must dismantle, and supports women who defend themselves against sexual harassment and other forms of gender based discrimination and violence inside and outside of our movement.

We must do this difficult work of naming and organizing against the patriarchy because:

  1. It impacts our staff, volunteers and general membership.
  2. To build a diverse movement to address climate change, we must make our organizing spaces inclusive and welcoming to all people.
  3. Climate change is already disproportionately impacting women around the world.
  4. To bring about climate justice, we must dismantle systems of oppression that keep us divided and ensure that both the way we organize and the solutions we create lead to a world of equality for all people.

Our work to address climate change requires collective action. In order to build a mass movement to take on the most powerful economic and political forces in the history of human civilization, our movement spaces must be inclusive to all people, regardless of background and identity. There is no space for oppressive behavior in our work. Just as we must work collectively to stop climate change, we must work collectively to dismantle patriarchy within ourselves, our organization, and within the broader structures of society.

As a volunteer led organization with an all female staff, issues of sexism & misogyny cannot be avoided. Our staff, volunteers and student leaders face discrimination, street harassment and other forms gendered violence in their personal lives. Every women has a story. As a community organization, we cannot ignore these all too common incidents.

While 350PDX can turn inward to transform our organization, we recognize that the women of 350PDX have to deal with sexism on a regular basis, including coming to and from work.  “I love to ride my bike. It helps me stay mentally and physically healthy, and is a concrete action I can take in my personally life to reduce my carbon footprint. During the summer when it gets really hot, or when biking to functions or meetings with public officials where I need to dress nicer in things like heels, a blazer, or a dress, I get A LOT of unwanted attention from men. Usually, they just wink, whistle, look me up & down, or shout obscenities; all unacceptable, but things I can try to ignore or drown out with headphones. But on too many occasions, drivers have driven recklessly to “get a better look.” One time I was within inches of being hit by a car when the male driver kept speeding past me and them slammed on his breaks so he could try to ask me out as I biked by. I shared the story with one of our summer interns only to learn she had experienced a similar incident with a driver harassing her while biking to our office. What makes a man think that any women on the street is his to oggle, to shout at, or to touch? Active transport — cycling, walking and taking public transport – is a critical part to our local climate solution, but unless we as a community take steps to change these gross behaviors, active transport will leave more than half of Portland’s population vulnerable to street harassment, sexual harassment or worse.”

Climate change is also disproportionately impacting women, so our work for climate justice must uplift the voices of female organizers on the frontlines of climate change.

This fall, 350PDX is working with an international fellow from Bangladesh who is experiencing the real impacts of climate change on her community and fellow women. “Climate Change is disproportionately affecting women’s lives & livelihood. Due to climate change, women have become the most vulnerable group in our society. Life has become more difficult in every aspect than it was earlier. For example, earlier women collected  fresh water from sources nearby per their need for drinking water and could grow vegetables & food easily. Now, due to climate change, the sources of fresh water have been contaminated by salt water and now women spend most of daytime collecting fresh water for drinking, for the household and to grow food as the remaining sources of freshwater are few and far away from their community. Now, a young woman’s first priority is to fetch water rather than going to school.

Climate change also has a severe impact on women’s health as they have to deal with water contaminated by salt water. Water born disease is now a common phenomenon to the women living in the coastal zone in Bangladesh.

Another concerning matter is housing and settlement. Because of aggressive climate change, river bank erosion, random floods,  and high intensity cyclones have become regular and intense; as a result, women are losing their homes, land and settlement. They are forced  away from their traditional earnings and into other unproductive sectors of the economy, which already affected our national development. For instance, earlier, women were involved in agriculture, but now they are affected by climate calamities like flooding, water contamination (by salt water), drought and unpredictable weather patterns. Women are now fighting to have their dignity and financial access again. To help the women in climate impacted areas, we have to work on a collaborative approach. Only then we can make women’s life secure and improve their livelihood.”

While Zarna is not with 350PDX, she and the other women in Women of Color Speak Out are in our movement and we support them. Sexist jokes are sexual harassment. Sexist jokes and other sexist language make organizing spaces uncomfortable for women and cannot be tolerated. Watch the videos in the “Zarna Responds” Facebook series, learn about how the patriarchy manifests, and take action to support women everywhere.

350PDX is building a diverse grassroots movement to address the causes of climate disruption through justice-based solutions by inspiring, training and mobilizing people to act.