Sheila Collins states that “racism, sexism, class exploitation, and ecological destruction are four interlocking pillars upon which the structure of patriarchy rests“ (Collins 1974, p. 161). This is the premise upon which this research lies while studying women’s environmental justice groups (WEJMs) activist strategies and political processes they use. Using a political process theory perspective, more specifically from a ‘contentious politics’ point of view, the aim is to determine what strategies, mechanisms of political change, and contextual factors contribute to the strength and success of WEJMs in the South. It also aims at unfolding the link between movements’ strengths and outcomes and the reasons behind these movements’ tendency to prioritize one over the other. In order to look into these questions, this study will rely on the pillars of critical environmental justice (CEJ) studies, using a contentious politics understanding of social movements to analyse their strategies and political processes. CEJ’s new approach to social movement analysis gives a great deal of importance to crossing perspectives with other fields, such as critical race theory or gender studies, to analyse EJMs successes and failures (Pellow, 2016). In this study, a transformative feminist perspective is focused on, insofar it is as critical of neoliberalism as Marxist and socialist feminism are, but from a point of view of the global South that brings in the imbalance in global power structures from a postcolonial interpretation. The ultimate goal of the study is not only to assess the success of WEJMs in attaining their goals, but most importantly to identify what makes them strong and insures the sustainability of their actions. This analysis also attempts to unfold the link between movement strength and outcomes, and explain the dynamics of their interaction in the case of WEJMs focused on forest protection in postcolonial African countries. The three cases that will be studied for this purpose are the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, Uniao Nacional de Camponeses (part of La Via Campesina) in Mozambique, and Cameroon Ecology.
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