Women and an International Court of the Environment
The profound and unique role that women play in protecting and improving the natural environment and human health is undeniable. Grassroots women’s groups in poor communities, in inner-city and urban communities and in indigenous communities have grown up spontaneously.
Other women’s advocacy groups in civil society have formed to support and assist them. This is because it is often women and their families who suffer the most from environmental degradation, pollution, toxic exposure and health risks. They are now calling for environmental and social justice.
In 1994, a special forum, then known as the Social Forum of the International Court of the Environment Foundation (ICEF) added its voice to this movement. At a Conference entitled “Towards the World Governing of the Environment” held in Venice from 2 to 5 June 1994, the important contribution of women in raising awareness to environmental and sustainability issues as well as in campaigning for access to “green” justice was illustrated and debated.
Following on from this, the Forum which by now had been transformed into the
organised an International Conference “Women, Justice and the Environment”, once again held in Venice, on 5 and 6 May 1995. The idea behind the Conference was to present a special public simulation of judgments rendered in the most important cases of environmental damage on the various continents represented. Leading women in the environmental justice movement from different countries participated and gave their testimony. These included Vandana and Mira Shiva and Indira Jaising from India who respectively analysed the issues of food safety in that country and the continuing saga of the victims of the Bhopal disaster; Esperanza Martinez from Ecuador who described the problems caused in her country by oil exploration and pollution; and Rosalie Bertell from Canada who looked at the multiple facets of the nuclear debate.
In 2007, on the occasion of the International Conference on “The Protection and Sustainable Development of the Mediterranean-Black Sea Ecosystem” held in Venice, from 24 to 26 May, the Forum appealed to all World Leaders, governments and civil society to call for the establishment of an International Court of the Environment as a safeguard for the environment itself and for the generations to come. See the 2007 Appeal.
Since then, more women have joined the Forum.