Your Business Is Feminism

New ideas on gender, climate, and equality as we near the quarter mark of the 21st century

Where are we with feminism as we near the quarter-mark of the 21st century?

The gender pay gap has barely budged in the past two decades—in some countries, women make up to 35 percent less than men for the same labor. A new report by the World Bank reveals that women have even fewer legal protections at work than was previously estimated, enjoying about 64 percent of the security that men do. Poverty continues to impact women at disproportionate rates, particularly across the Global South. Afghan girls are still denied an education. In Iran, no public officials have been held accountable for the brutal killing of Mahsa Aminini and other women who’ve defied the veil law. Violence against women continues to impact a whopping 30 percent of the global female population, touching the lives of almost one in three. In West and Central Africa child marriage remains a major problem, with 40 percent of girls forced to marry before the age of 18. And then Roe vs. Wade, the crowning achievement of American feminism’s second wave, was overturned in 2022, denying women in the U.S. the constitutional right to an abortion.

Yes, there have been milestone victories in the past two centuries, but feminism can feel doomed to a life of repetition, making the same very basic arguments again and again. With a wave of regressive legislation in the U.S., and the continued strength of various patriarchal autocracies, we aren’t always moving in the right direction. Despite our passion and frustration, the movement can feel stuck.

Feminists around the world are continually fighting this stasis with new insight, research, and analytical approaches. At Between the Two of Us, our upcoming festival in Tangier (May 2–5), we’re hosting several conversations on a range of feminist perspectives, from ecofeminism and intersectional feminism to Black feminism, Afrofeminism, socialist feminism, and Islamic feminism. We’ll also explore the role feminism has to play in a business context, and why it’s a crucial part of the life-centered economy.

Ecofeminism and the Life-Centered Economy

There’s some pretty significant overlap between life-centered economics and certain categories of feminist thought. Ecofeminism is a good example. Both the life-centered economy and ecofeminism tend to see society, politics, and ecology as interconnected and call for the dismantling of hierarchical, retractive, and exploitative practices. Both look to concepts of circularity, reciprocity, and regenerative economics as the building blocks for a better and fairer world. And most schools of feminism are interested in relationships, which is also a key focus of the life-centered economy. These approaches want to nurture and enrich how people live together and interact—at home and in the community—through a comprehensive reconfiguration of power.

Climate expert and ecofeminist Elise Buckle has a lot to say on this subject. A co-founder of SHE Changes Climate, a non-profit organization that advocates for inclusion and diversity at all levels of climate decision-making, Buckle will join us in Tangier for a session featuring today’s top thinkers in sustainability and economics. In her mind, inequalities in climate leadership are exacerbating the environmental crisis, and effective progress on the climate front depends on empowering women across the world, making them equal players both locally and globally. For Buckle, feminism isn’t just about women’s rights. It’s about giving the largest excluded party an equal voice on climate negotiations, with the hope of thereby bringing other marginalized groups to the table.

As a movement, ecofeminism is on the rise, partly due to increasing evidence that climate change has a disproportionate impact on women and girls, especially in the Global South. A UN report from 2023 outlines why women are especially vulnerable to ecological threats: they have fewer financial resources, less access to literacy, education, and technology, and shoulder unequal caring responsibilities. Women bear the brunt of unpaid family care, which is worsened when food prices climb due to poor harvests, or when family members’ healthcare needs increase amid rising temperatures. And girls are more likely to drop out of school in areas prone to drought. The report concludes that feminism will be an important tool in fighting climate change, and that measures to prevent ecological breakdown must enshrine gender equality and justice if they hope to succeed.

Feminism Wants a Feminist World


Social critic, author, and longtime House member Minna Salami also sees feminism as the demand for profound systemic overhaul. “The end goal of feminism is a feminist world,” she says. “There’s no quick fix for the patriarchy or it would no longer be around. It’s a long struggle, for sure, but we keep up the fight. And it’s important to see that there are many elements of joy, beauty, and solidarity in this struggle. For many feminists, feminism is the biggest gift they have given to themselves.” 

Salami, who will also speak in Tangier, is currently chairing a program on “Black Feminism and the Polycrisis” at The New Institute in Hamburg, exploring the particular impact of climate, war, divisiness, and right-wing politics on Black women around the world. Salami became internationally renowned in both feminism and human rights after the publication of her first book Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone. The book puts forward a compelling way of understanding contemporary power structures, suggesting that we are forced to conform to the precepts of Europatriarchal knowledge—the knowledge of white privileged European men, which has become the epistemic basis of our world. Based on science, rationalism, and empiricism, it’s a kind of knowledge that is by no means entirely bad, having brought us the Enlightenment, universities, cities, trains, airplanes, etc. But according to Salami, it falls short in its ability to create the kind of collective and embodied understanding of humanity that we need to solve the multifaceted issues of our era.

“Europatriarchal knowledge is an approach to knowing that cannot take us to a higher dimension, in which we can experience some kind of harmony, not perfect harmony, but what it means to thrive and be human,” Salami argues. “For that kind of higher dimension, we need something more generative, more explorative. We need a way of knowing that engages the poetic, the body, ritual, Earth, the rapturous.”

The Debates Within

Some feminists are wary of approaches that emphasize female difference, particularly feminists focused on gender fluidity. They may be comfortable with ecofeminism and feminist foreign policy insofar as they advocate for equal representation. But the argument that women are inherently (or even just practically) more compassionate, non-violent, flexible, and collaborative than men opens a can of worms, triggering the debate between gender essentialism and constructivism. The worry is that this kind of claim reinforces problematic stereotypes, which many feminists find untenable.

In Tangier, we’ll hear from experts who are particularly attuned to these stereotypes. Hyper-gender activist Asmaa Guedira has built a personal and professional identity on rejecting conventional labels of male and female. Instead, after struggling with how to categorize herself and her sexuality, she has found a satisfying sense of selfhood by embracing complete fluidity. This self-directed investigation has been the foundation of a successful career as a facilitator and advisor to organizations including the UNDP in New York. What will she say about the role of difference-based feminism today?

The conversation will also include anti-racist activist and journalist Rokhaya Diallo, who has become a celebrity in France for her candid discussions about women and race. We’ll also hear from comic artist Zainab Fasiki, journalist Omayra Issa, and Islamic scholar Asma Lamrabet. But regardless of whether the event exposes conflicting ideas and paradigms, Salami thinks discourse is always vital.

“Feminism is a political philosophy that is about justice, equality, care, groundedness—so many values that our wounded world is in desperate need of,” she says. “So speaking about feminism, advocating for feminism, bringing clarity to the topic of feminism is always going to be a positive thing.”

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