Renowned ecofeminist to discuss women and the global water crisis

February 26, 2009

University Park, Pa. — Author, ecofeminist, and environmental activist Vandana Shiva will visit Penn State's School of International Affairs on Monday, March 16 to present a public lecture on gender issues and access to water in the developing world. The event will be open to the public and will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Greg Sutliff Auditorium of the Lewis Katz Building, located off of Park Avenue and Bigler Road in University Park. Attendees are invited to a reception immediately following the event.

The scarcity of water in the developing world has a profound impact on women, who most often suffer the opportunity cost of walking long distances for water, waiting for water and managing the family's water resources. In the 2008 documentary "One Water" about the global water crisis, Shiva describes how the water shortage is especially hard on women in India who are responsible for obtaining household water located far from their homes.

"Even though women as water providers stretch their bodies, stretch their energies, walk miles…there is a limit beyond which you cannot walk," she says in the documentary produced by the University of Miami.

In her book "Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution and Profit" (South End Press, 2002), Shiva argues that water is a common good that should be accessible to all and advocates creating a global movement to guarantee water rights for everyone.

A quantum physicist by training, Shiva left an academic career and established what is now Navdanya, a foundation dedicated to protecting "nature and people's rights to knowledge, biodiversity, water and food," according to its Web site. In addition to creating a seed bank and market network for organic farmers, Navdanya makes agricultural policy and land use recommendations on a national and international level. Navdanya trains farmers in organic techniques, and strives to empower women and preserve their traditional knowledge about agriculture, health, and food.

"For me, ecology and feminism have been inseparable," she writes on her organization's Web site.

Shiva has authored many books on environmental policy, including "Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Crisis" (South End Press, 2008), "Globalization's New Wars: Seed, Water and Life Forms" (Women Unlimited, 2005) and "Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace" (South End Press, 2005). She is the co-author of "Ecofeminism" (Zed Books, 1993) and editor of "Manifestos on the Future of Food and Seed" (South End Press, 2008).

"Time" magazine recognized Shiva as an environmental hero in 2003, and "Asia Week" has called her one of the five most powerful communicators in Asia. Dr. Shiva is a recipient of Global 500 Award of the United Nations and Earth Day International Award. She has also received the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award) in 1993 and is a member of the Order of the Golden Ark.

Her visit is being sponsored by the Women's Law Caucus.


  • IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 22, 2015