Birth Companions and Wen publish new paper on reproductive justice and the climate emergency in the UK
Birth Companions and Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) have today (Thursday 1st February) published a paper looking at the implications of the climate emergency for reproductive justice in the UK.
Climate change, global heating, air pollution, toxic chemicals, environmental degradation and the decline of nature – referred to collectively as the climate and biodiversity emergency – pose severe challenges to reproductive, maternal, infant and child health. In the UK, we are already seeing the significant impacts of the climate emergency on women’s ability to conceive; sustain healthy pregnancies; and birth and parent their children in safety and health. We also know that women facing poverty, inequality and disadvantage, and those from Black and Brown communities disproportionately bear the impacts of these factors.
Developed by Black and Indigenous women in the US in the 1990s, the reproductive justice framework provides an invaluable lens through which to understand and address the climate and biodiversity emergency. Reproductive justice centres around four core human rights: the right to bodily autonomy; the right to have children; the right to not have children; and the right to parent the children we have with dignity in safe and sustainable communities (SisterSong, 2023).
Today’s paper from Birth Companions and Wen adds to the Feminist Green New Deal (FGND) policy paper series developed in recent years by Wen and the Women’s Budget Group, using the framework of reproductive justice to interrogate specific challenges brought about by the climate emergency, and demonstrate the myriad ways in which the climate emergency undermines our rights.
Naomi Delap, Director of Birth Companions, has commented:
“Our new paper, written in collaboration with Wen, highlights some of many ways in which reproductive justice is limited and undermined by the climate emergency in the UK. Embedding understanding of this is crucial for the development of wider climate justice policy that adequately engages with the experiences and needs of women, parents and children.
"Once reproductive justice principles are understood, supporting women’s wider empowerment and their access to sexual and reproductive health and care are amongst our most powerful tools to tackle the climate emergency.”
Kate Metcalf, Co-Director of Wen, has commented:
“Championing reproductive justice is key to addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency and has been a missing part of the Feminist Green New Deal. We are excited to take this work forward with Birth Companions and others to ensure that future governments include reproductive justice in their climate policy making so that we can build a world where women, communities and the planet thrive.”
Dr Ranee Thakar, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has commented:
“Using the important lens of reproductive justice, Birth Companions and Wen demonstrate the power in taking a holistic, justice-based view of the climate emergency. This is an approach which we don’t see often enough in conversation – and action – in response to these issues.
“Birth Companions and Wen have produced an essential contribution to the conversation, which I hope will spur on action across the sector. It is vital that we all face the issues, call out those who refuse to act, and relentlessly talk about the real-life impacts on women’s lives. Only then can we collectively make a difference!”
Birth Companions and Wen will be leading work with partners in 2024 to ensure reproductive justice principles are put front and centre in policy and action to address the climate emergency in the UK. We will engage with a range of partners across the women’s, health and environmental sectors on this: we cannot, and do not want to, do this work alone.
How can you get involved?
- Support campaigns and initiatives that focus on the intersection of reproductive justice and the climate emergency, including:
- Global Black Maternal Health’s Black Child, Clean Air campaign;
- The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Women’s Voices Involvement Panel.
- Join Birth Companions, Wen and the Women’s Budget Group (WBG) in supporting the Feminist Green New Deal (FGND) roadmap to a sustainable and equal UK economy.
- Advocate for the addition of a commitment to reproductive justice in other key policy initiatives relating to the climate emergency.
- Review and improve individual organisational policy and practice on sustainability.
- Join together to organise and campaign across the women’s and health sectors on environmental issues.
To discuss Birth Companions work in this area, contact Katherine Miller Brunton ([email protected])
Birth Companions is a charity founded in 1996 to support pregnant women, mothers and babies who experience inequality and disadvantage. Our vision is that every woman has the care and support she needs to ensure her health and wellbeing, and to give her baby the best possible start in life. We aim to improve women’s lives, protect their rights, and drive improvements in the care they and their babies receive.
Birth Companions has developed a response to the climate and biodiversity emergency to ensure the charity has less impact on the environment; we have committed to being leaders in this area within the women’s sector, sharing information, policy and best practice; and we encourage other organisations to act with us.
For more information about environment and sustainability at Birth Companions visit: https://www.birthcompanions.org.uk/pages/115-environment
Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) was founded in 1988 to offer a different way of thinking and acting on environmental issues, recognising that the environmental movement often overlooked the perspectives and voices of women. To answer this imbalance Wen established an approach that brought gender-sensitive issues to the forefront and continues this revolutionary method today. Wen fights global problems around gender, health, equality and our environment by taking action on issues affecting our bodies, homes and neighbourhoods. We work alongside communities supporting action and get a real-world understanding of women’s lived experiences in the process. With this knowledge, we create collaborative partnerships with organisations, academics and policy makers to launch projects and campaigns that make a real difference and improve lives.
For more information about Wen visit: https://www.wen.org.uk/