Born in India in 1952 and educated as a physicist, Vandana Shiva started Navdanya in 1987 to challenge the control of seeds by giant corporations like Monsanto. In 1994. with Ralph Nader, Jeremy Rifkin and others, she co-founded the International Forum on Globalization in San Francisco with two goals: 1) expose the multiple effects of economic globalization in order to stimulate debate, and (2) seek to reverse the globalization process by encouraging ideas and activities which revitalize local economies and communities, and ensure long term ecological stability
In her 1989 book Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development Vandana explains that she became an ecofeminist because today’s ecological disruption and our crisis of survival are rooted ”in the arrogance of the west and those who ape it. This arrogance is grounded in a blindness towards the quiet work and the invisible wealth created by nature and women and those who produce sustenance.
“Such work and wealth are ‘invisible’ because they are decentred, local and in harmony with local ecosystems and needs. The more effectively the cycles of life, as essential processes, are maintained, the more invisible they become. Disruption is violent and visible; balance and harmony are experienced, not seen.
“With Adam Smith , the wealth created by nature and women’s work was turned invisible. Labor, and especially male labor, became the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessities of life.”
“The premium on visibility placed by patriarchical maldevelopment forces the destruction of invisible energies and the work of women and nature, and the creation of spectacular, centralized work and wealth. Such centralization and the uniformity associated with it works further against the diversity and plurality of life.
“Work and wealth in accordance with the feminine principle are significant precisely because they are rooted in stability and sustainability. Decentred diversity is the source of nature’s work and women’s productivity; it is the work of ‘insignificant’ plants in creating significant changes which shift the ecological equilibrium in life’s favor. It is the energy of all living things, in all their diversity, and together, the diversity of lives wields tremendous energy.
“Women’s work is similarly invisible in providing sustenance and creating wealth for basic needs. Their work in the forest, the field and the river creates sustenance in quiet but essential ways. Every woman in every house in every village of rural India works invisibly to provide the stuff of life to nature and people.
“It is this invisible work that is linked to nature and needs, which conserves nature through maintaining ecological cycles, and conserves human life through satisfying the basic needs of food, nutrition and water. It is this essential work that is destroyed and dispensed with by maldevelopment: the maintenance of ecological cycles has no place in a political economy of commodity and cash flows.“