Women’s identities in African environmental ethics
Discourses on the necessity and nature of African environmental ethics are sprawling in contemporary African studies. Like other debates on substantive issues in African philosophy that have largely witnessed an underrepresentation of African women voices, there are relatively few women authorship identities in African environmental discourses. This chapter conversationally interrogates the perspectives of three female Nigerian philosophers on the idea of African environmental ethics: Sophie Oluwole, Philomena Ojomo and Pat Agboro. This chapter discovers that the common identities that straddle across the writings of these three philosophers on the topic are female authorship and the geographical criterion of Africanness of a thought. Neither of the positions of the three selected scholars shares a feminist bias for environmental concerns or underscores an appreciation of the roles and constraints of women in sustainable environmental management, whether in Africa or elsewhere. Focusing on the sexist identity of scholars in African environmental ethics neglects the multiple identities necessary in redefining the horizon of the emerging field. Using the African eco-activist and eco-feminist bias of Wangari Maathai as motivation, this paper calls for a womanist bias in African environmental ethical discourses. It argues that there is an important nexus between women’s empowerment and a good environment, especially in the African context. For a holistic orientation in African environmental ethics, which will serve as a pivot for effective and sustainable management of the environment in 21st-century Africa, this paper concludes that the metaphysical must reinforce not only the ethical, womanist dimension, but also non-philosophical variables such as law, technology, education and eco-activism.