How The Chipko Andolan Became One Of India's First Ever Eco-feminist Movements

How The Chipko Andolan Became One Of India's First Ever Eco-feminist Movements

India is a democratic country. Every person has the right to live life according to their wishes and choose causes close to their hearts; as long as they don't invade the private space of other citizens. But, the fact remains that causes are meant to fulfill a greater good, and not a personal motive. Protesting a movie even before watching it because it allegedly misrepresents a community, protecting a rapist who happens to be a godman and destroying public property and raping women for reservation are not collective causes. They serve a personal motive; usually political nature.

But, an excellent example of a cause greater than the people involved was the Chipko movement, or the Chipko Andolan. Today happens to be the 45th anniversary of the famous movement that created waves not only for its environmental consequences; but, also for its feminist undertones and Google is celebrating it aptly with an adorable doodle! Check it out here.

chipko andolan

Talking about the Chipko Andolan, it's a movement that dates back to the year 1730 when, in Khejarli village of Rajasthan, 363 people sacrificed their lives to save trees. However, a highlight of the movement was 45 years ago in Uttar Pradesh (now Uttarakhand). This particular incident became a rallying point for future environmental protests all over the world as well as set a precedent for nonviolent protests in India. But, most notably, it was important because it set the stage for eco-feminist movements all over the world. 

The next obvious question is what is 'eco-feminism' and how did this movement bring it to the forefront? Well, eco-feminism is defined as a philosophical and political theory and movement which combines ecological concerns with feminist ones, regarding both are as resulting from male domination of society. Simply put, eco-feminism asks for equal rights for both women and the environment, both of whom face oppression in the male-dominated society.

2 chipko movement

The Chipko Andolan of 1973 did exactly that. The state government of Uttar Pradesh wanted to fell in the Garhwal district. There had been previous protests against the same and considering this, the government was having a hard time. Instead, the government decided to distract the villagers and then sent lumbermen to cut down trees. A local girl saw these men approaching and ran to inform Gauri Devi, the head of the village Mahila Mangal Dal back then. Gauri, along with only 27 other women, confronted the loggers and tried to stop the felling. When talks failed, and the men got abusive, the women resorted to hugging the trees to stop these men. Not only did the movement stretch into late hours, the women had to keep an all night long vigil to guard the trees against those who had come to cut them. Ultimately, tired, the men relented and left the village. When they returned the next day, the word had spread to neighbouring villages and more people had joined in. Eventually, after a four-day stand-off, the contractors gave up and left! When the news reached the then state Chief Minister, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, he set up a committee to look into the matter, which eventually ruled in favour of the villagers. This judgement became a turning point in the history of eco-development struggles not only in the region but also around the world. Can you believe that? 28 women, together, defeated a bunch of government contractors. That is amazing!

So when Google decided to celebrate the movement through Svabhu Kohli and Viplov Singh's doodle, we think it is very well deserved. In their tribute, Google said "The Chipko Andolan also stands out as an eco-feminist movement. Women formed the nucleus of the movement, as the group most directly affected by the lack of firewood and drinking water caused by deforestation. The power of protest is an invaluable and powerful agent of social change. Take some time to hug your favourite tree-hugger in celebration of the 'Chipko Movement'." Could they have said it better? Umm, no!

Pssst... We're working on a major change. Tune in to on 2nd April to know more!

Images: Google, Indian Express, Studyfry