Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Dorothy A. Haecker


Denise J. Doyle


Bernadette E. O'Connor


This thesis demonstrates that ecofeminism is a new feminist theory and discusses the implications of ecofeminism's rejection of dualistic thinking. It also explores the relationship of ecofeminist theory and practice to women's empowerment. Chapter One defines feminism and ecofeminism and determines the place of ecofeminism in relation to existing feminist theories. Chapter Two describes three women's environmental movements, the Green Belt Movement of Kenya, the Chipko movement of India and the Women's Pentagon Actions in the United States. Chapter Three discusses the contributions to ecofeminist theory of Wangari Maathai, Vandana Shiva and Ynestra King. Each of these women is associated with one of the movements described in Chapter Two. Chapters Two and Three reflect on the contributions of these movements and theories to the empowerment of women. Chapter Four examines the implications of ecofeminism's rejection of dualism and expands on the understanding of ecofeminism as a theory that challenges all oppression. It discusses specific actions called for by ecofeminism and imagines how an ecofeminist world might look. This thesis concludes that women can empower themselves through movements against oppression that do not focus specifically on women's rights, women's roles or women's culture. It also concludes that ecofeminist theory has the potential to be more sustainable and inclusive than other feminist theories and urges proponents of those theories to contribute to and accept ecofeminism.