Context, as a metaphor for our specific and embodied experiences, must be accounted for when discussing planetary challenges of environmental deterioration and social inequality. These issues have driven theological response to the need for a new cultural paradigm. My thesis compares Ivone Gebara’s theological ecofeminism to Paul F. Knitter’s pluralism through an analysis of panentheist theology and postcolonial critiques of liberation hermeneutics. While Knitter’s theology focuses on the urgency of cross-cultural communication, Gebara highlights the intrinsic worth of every living organism as a motivation for grassroots social change. Through this study, it is clear that although practical strategies for dialogical action are needed, the theological basis of ecofeminist panentheism more adequately nurtures an environmental ethic than the pluralist approach. These perspectives explore practical solutions to pressing social and environmental concerns. A shift in cultural values must occur if we are to address ecological challenges, and this can be guided in part through alternative understandings of God.
Drawing from ecofeminist perspectives, this paper assesses the saliency of women not as victims of environmental degradation, but rather as potent agents of change. Situated within the context of increasing environmental damage and looming irreversible climate change, this study examines whether, and to what degree, women’s political empowerment impacts environmental sustainability. With particular emphasis on women’s status, ordinary least squares regressions models were used to investigate predictors of ecological footprint, environmental well-being and environmental performance cross-nationally. The results demonstrate that while affluence, measured in GDP per capita, is a strong predictor in every case, women’s political empowerment leads to better environmental outcomes only in environmental policy performance. This suggests that women’s political empowerment may be yet another modernisation factor which affects national environmental policies and outcomes, but cannot reduce the overall environmental impact beyond national borders. This study concludes by stating that despite of promising results, women’s status may still suffer from globalisation and other mediating world-system processes.