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Ecofeminism: Women, Technology, and Sustainability

Shehzadi Aziz

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Ecofeminism is a branch of feminism that sees the relationship between women and the planet as vital to preserving the environment. Although it is known primarily among those involved in academia and tends to be an approach to policy-making, ecofeminism's perspective seems to be just as valuable when being applied to technology and female entrepreneurship.

There remains a central debate when it comes to sustainability and climate change action: growth or degrowth? In other words, should society still focus on wealth creation under capitalism, or should we abandon the need for creating more wealth in favor of reducing production to lessen environmental degradation? This debate has dominated widespread discussion on the issue of how we deal with rising waste production and greenhouse gas emissions. These are questions that, on some level, are still unanswered. Nevertheless, most governments, especially in Western Europe and the United States, continue to favor pursuing exponential growth under capitalism over degrowth. In 2015, The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) declared the need for economic growth as well as climate change action. This leaves us with one primary plan of action: technology.

Accepting the premise that technology is the best and most viable solution for achieving sustainability and dealing with climate change explains why there has been a surge in green technology innovation and social entrepreneurship. Sustainability tech start-ups are constantly emerging. This is where female entrepreneurship holds vast potential for making a difference. Although entrepreneurship is still a male-dominated career path (and women sometimes face more hardship gaining sufficient funding and resources), women in both developing and developed countries are increasingly starting their own businesses. Recent studies show that 55% of social enterprises in the U.S. are led by women, and 31% in the U.K. have Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) leaders. This is good not only because more women are working for themselves but also because it shows the power of women starting businesses that have aims of helping ethical and sustainable causes.

Last year, Forbes put together a list of 50 women-led start-ups that are crushing tech, many of which have aims that correspond with helping the environment. One of two start-ups that caught my attention was Biobot Analytics, a company that aims to analyze the waste found in water and identify toxic substances in order to reduce the harm caused by wastewater consumption. The second is LIA Diagnostics, a company known for creating and distributing the first flushable and biodegradable pregnancy test.

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