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Green New Deal

Green New Deal

The concept of the Green New Deal is a reference to the project of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in the 1930’s. Most readers will probably also associate the term with the “New Look” fashion promoted by Audrey Hepburn- a pretty good introduction to the divagations about GND. After all, the “New Look” meant clothes for women who were professionally active, educated (if only vocationally), modern and independent. GND has not yet developed its own image in terms of fashion, however the environmental and futuristic clothes manufactured with respect for human dignity and distributed according to the principles of fair trade will soon become a symbolic reflection of this trend. Perhaps, once GND becomes fully internalized by women, it will also become a part of daily life – an aesthetic and a useful artifact, e.g. a comfortable and cheap set of clothes. But let us forget about clothes for now and focus on the essence. Unfortunately, in its original assumptions, GND is blind to the question of gender. It does not mean, however, that women of the world should be blind to the Green New Deal. On the contrary, the deal can indeed be very much equality-oriented.

GND – what exactly is it?

The first report titled “Green New Deal” was announced on 21 July 2008 by the Green New Deal Group and published by the New Economics Foundation The document presents proposals of strategies aimed at counteracting climate changes and the present financial crisis. This manifesto, for indeed it is one, calls for a new regulation of finances and taxes, as well as government investment projects in renewable energy sources. Its full title is: “Green New Deal: Joined-up policies to solve the triple crunch of the credit crisis, climate change and high oil prices”. Having applied a substantial mental shortcut, one could say that GND is an economic project of sustainable development. It is a proposed reform of the global financial, fiscal and energy systems, as well as of the biggest global investment projects. The objective of these reforms was to invigorate and change the tendencies in world economy by making it independent from the non-renewable energy sources, counter-acting climate changes, as well as creating millions of new (green) jobs.

GND: green jobs = girls to technical universities!

For the time being, green jobs (which are to the detriment of women) are available in typically male sectors, i.e. energy, new technologies, IT related industries, innovations, and physics of the future. It is why we would like for GND to serve women. We are already fighting for our daughters and their daughters, by constantly repeating the slogan “Girls to technical universities!”. We continuously keep on telling women that this is how they can acquire the possibility of choosing their way of life. This is where they will find jobs, money, career opportunities – for themselves and for their partners and children, if they ever want to have children in the future. In the opinion of the Greens, the world has to shift to a green economy and to green technologies of energy generation, as the energy potential of the few hundreds of years based on fossil fuels (non-renewable!) is simply coming to exhaustion. The times of the hierarchical, patriarchic and paternalistic model of authority, management, culture

and human relations is coming to an end. We are witnessing the end of a certain epoch. The new one can take place also with your participation – in the understanding of equal share in power, as well as in the distribution and redistribution of goods. To put it more explicitly – you can become the shareholders of equal rights, i.e. equal pay, position on job markets, equal opportunities “of” and not “from”. But you must educate yourselves and the generations to come for this impending equality.

The Green New Deal is, to an extent, reaching out further than feminist economics. A proposed interpretation of the GND assumptions focusing on women’s issues provides for the existence of “green new deals” created on the basis of different factors similar to those followed during the formulation of the foundations of the feminist criticism of traditional economy (one of the common traits, for example, is the egalitarian approach) but – and this needs to be underlined – they went further. The present text is an effort to make the green perspective more women-friendly. Feminist economy has brought to the economic analyses parameters which are often the direct result of the basic tools of feminist criticism. Feminist economy has introduced the perspective of gender to mainstream economy, proving that economy is not gender-neutral. The most visible manifestations of such a thesis is, for example, the cost-free nature of reproduction or the following simple interrelation, which is often omitted in a conservative economy: the higher the share of women who are professionally active, the higher the population growth. FE was created in the 1980’s as a reaction to the social costs of the policy of structural adaptations in developing countries, based on the recommendations of the World Bank and the IMF. Therefore, FE is already a mature thirty-something, while GND is hardly a young pup in comparison. Let us, however, try to combine the ideas proposed by the two.

FE breaks up the conservative economic models, and GND shows us in which direction the global economy should develop and what economic and social tools should be used so that this systemic change could be implemented. If climate change is a fact and the climate wars are our quotidian reality, if it is true that our natural resources are really shrinking and increasing numbers of people are experiencing crises of different types (environmental, cultural), then we need to remodel the system of thinking about the world and about how the world should be designed. Because a crisis today is something very different from what it once used to be – the contemporary crisis is a means of a quotidian and permanent individual and collective experience, an element of the postmodern world without an order. The Green New Deal is thus an effort to introduce this order. Additionally, a feminized GND could become a holistic equality perspective for development. If, therefore, women can be the driving force of global growth, GND can become the order of women.

What needs to be done for this to happen?

We have already responded in part to this question, recognizing education of equality as one of the most important parameters of the green sustainable future. In other words – equality from the age of kindergarten, or perhaps even conception! Another fundamental issue is the task to feminize professions related to energy and technologies of the future, what will definitely help neutralize and, with time, eliminate the discrepancies in the income of women. The gender perspective should be applied in all studies connected to development and education. There is a need to institute a balance in the presence of women studying technical disciplines related to engineering, technologies and mathematical fields and, as a result, be present in the sectors of modern green technologies. It should also be added that the main guidelines should also include equality-related changes in administration and governmental agencies. There should be gender quotas in the decision and management bodies, in business,7 in politics, and in the planning and designing groups in all the social and economic fields.

The biggest challenge for the future which calls for an immediate political response and practical actions of governments, state and global institutions is the new energy order and the questions it entails. One question in particular is interesting from the equality perspective: what will be the construction of the order and how will it link the support of women with the development of renewable energy and the improvement of the quality of life?

The so called energy democracy is a chance for women, where women consumers can change into energy generators, e.g. by running small domestic electrical power plants or finding employment in the production of Renewable Energy Sources technologies. The above has already been well tested in India (Grameen Shakti, Bangladesh), where systems of microloans for women were introduced to help install over 100 thousand solar panels in rural areas. The schemes not only created opportunities for earning money and surviving but also for development. RES are generally a chance for the development of rural areas where women find it particularly difficult to join the labour market.

The solution could also test well in Polish circumstances. For the time being, however, there is no “Polish energy deal” nor a “Polish green deal”, particularly that no one has heard of green jobs here, not to mention green jobs for women. Still, there is much such work out there and if only women could become more interested in the projects carried out by the Voivodship Funds for Environmental Protection, who are the promoters and managing bodies of funds for thermal modernization projects. Women could also benefit from these opportunities. When looking more broadly, the strategic documents at different tiers in Poland visibly lack a green perspective. For example, “Poland 2030 – Developmental Challenges”, the famous plan of minister Michal Boni, takes no account of opportunities for development in either green technologies or, for that matter, in evening out men’s and women’s pays. The strategy of development of Poland has not, in contrast to many European documents of this kind, included a revaluation: the colonial and discriminatory investment initiatives have not been changed into green job opportunities in sectors such as renewable energy, construction or the huge market of energy effectiveness improvements. Both the green as well as the gender equality perspective are completely absent in the above strategy. Gender equality in Poland is only taken into consideration when there is a duty to fulfil the criteria of European programmes, such as the Human Capital Operational Programme. No comment.

Summary

If we make the GND a project which is more sensitive to gender and, in line with FE and GND, we come to the conclusion that the GDP is not the only or the most important growth factor, we will be able to include in our analyses indicators and the impact assessment of GND on equality issues. This is something we know already from gender-based budgeting and the equality-based perspective for development. It will be the first stage of women introducing an order to the GND. It seems that in Poland the job of performing the assessment could be placed in the hands of local plenipotentiaries for the equal status of men and women nominated on the eve of the presidency. Moreover, one other good platform could be the implementation of the European Charter of Equality of Men and Women in Local Life at the different local tiers (municipality/ region/city). Our women’s electoral platforms should include elements of budgeting from the gender perspective. Such postulates have been many times presented in the programmes of the Zieloni 2004 [Greens 2004] and Partia Kobiet [Women’s Party], as well as at the Congress of Women. These efforts must be continued.

With appropriate developmental strategies in place, green jobs could also mean jobs of equal opportunity. In addition, as the German MEP, Franziska Keller, claims, GND is not just new work places in sectors of modern technologies but also more jobs related to education and care. Let us try to make the Green New Deal – the Women’s Deal, as without women, this project will never be successful.

Małgorzata Tkacz-Janik, co-president of the Zieloni party; cultural studies scholar; businesswoman; social leader; academic teacher of film theory and poetics, mass communication, advertising, PR and lobbying; communication skills coach; feminist activist; initiator of the Silesian Salon of Feminized Thought. Former candidate for the European Parliament and for the Polish Parliament. Organizer of the first Silesian “Manifa” Women’s March and of charitable auctions. Head of the Spaces of Dialogue Foundation Council, co-founder of Gender Initiatives Group Silesia, member of the Women’s Congress, and of the Silesian Women’s Soccer Club. Creator of the civil support movement for Alicja Tysiąc. Co-author of the report “Zrównoważony rozwój metropolii Silesia”; from 2010 member of the Silesian Council. Mother of Maciek, who is dating Marysia. In Silesia they call her “gryfno fela” because of her androgynous sex appeal

 

Added: 3 listopada 2011 Category: General
 
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