Perhaps the first time that the collective involvement of women was noticed in an environmental campaign was in the seventies, during what came to be known as the Chipko campaign. During this time, to protest the cutting of trees in their villages by contractors, many women in the Gharwal region in northern India clung to trees to prevent them from being chopped. This was only the beginning and as the movement spread, it was marked by the high participation of women who asserted their right to protect the environment within which they lived and worked. As their activism developed, women came into campaigns to protect forests, to fight for rivers such as the Narmada, to protect their lands from being privatized or mined for minerals, and against nuclear power.
The long history of rural women's environmental activism, is complemented by the massive involvement of urban women of Bhopal in the movement against Union Carbide after the Bhopal gas disaster in 1984. In the many years that have passed since this tragic event in which thousands of people were killed as a result of a gas leakage from the Union Carbide plant, the campaign for justice has been kept alive by women.
Over the years, battles for resources such as water and forests have grown and people engaged in them have had to fight on many fronts, the more so as globalization sweeps across India and more and more natural resources are being privatized. These changes within homes and families, where one member may benefit, albeit in the short term, while the other has to face increasing burdens, pose new challenges for women and the women's movement.
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