The Women’s Environmental Network seeks to enable equality through the intersection of gender and the environment. In conversation with Natasha Piette-Basheer and Shaheda Aziz, I ask: firstly, how do we achieve environmental justice? And secondly, how do we make it intersectional?
Natasha tells me how WEN amplifies the conversation around reusables and plastic free period products. Their “Environmenstrual Week” campaign runs from 19 - 25 October. “It’s about making people feel empowered to make informed choices about menstruation products” she says. Large companies currently dominate the market share in period products. During my recent trip to the supermarket, the sanitary products aisle was dominated by popular brand names, whereas I don’t think I even spotted reusables, for example, moon cups, unless I looked at the bottom. I ask if there are any cross-organisational initiatives that WEN partners with to raise the visibility of toxicity-free reusables. In response, WEN is lobbying big manufacturers to include reusables in their business model and has developed a helpful toolkit and template letter for consumers to ask for greater transparency from retailers and manufacturers.
Shaheda speaks passionately about the ‘Soil Sisters’ project, which brings together domestic violence sufferers across women’s refuges in East London through weekly therapeutic gardening sessions. She visits their homes and facilitates sessions comprising horticulture, as well as cooking, arts and crafts. A wholesome example of ecofeminism in action, Shaheda explains how she entered this space with the utmost respect for these women, offering healing through garden therapy, but with realistic expectations from the outset. In doing so, she was able to form organic friendships with the women, which reinforced a sense of collectivism and sisterhood, and created an environment where women could be happy just being themselves.