Season for Interfaith-Intercultural Celebration

9-Week Self Study Program

Week NINE: Eco-Feminism, Peace, Gender Equity

Interview Dialogues
Discussion Questions
Preparation & Background
Related Global Manifesto
Further Reading/ Links


Prof. Chung Hyun-Kyung on Eco-Feminism and Peace
Professor of Ecumenics and World Christianity at Union Theological Seminary, New York, she is active in Christian women's movements in Asia. Formerly Professor of Systematic Theology at EWHA Women's University, Seoul, Korea. Author of Struggle to be the Sun Again and other books.


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Sr. Joan D. Chittister, OSB on Peace and Gender Equity
She is a well-known author and activist in the areas of human rights; peace and justice; ecumenism; contemporary religious life; and women, church, and society. Co-Chair, Women's Global Peace Initiative. Formerly prioress, Benedictine Sisters, Mount St. Benedict, Erie, Pennsylvania. Formerly President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Author of Winds of Change: Women Challenge the Church and many other books.


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1. What is your understanding of “eco-feminism?” Why do the concepts of the empowerment of women and the stewardship of the Earth intertwine so powerfully?

2. It has been suggested that feminism and ecology are the two most visible dimensions of the dramatic cultural evolution that marks our age. How do you respond to that observation?




Theme: Eco-Feminism and Peace

The connection between feminist insight into the world and human society is profoundly interdependent with ecological thinking. As Susannah Heschel said at the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions (in Chicago): “It’s not an accident that we call the Earth ‘Mother’ and then proceed to treat her as we have always treated women.”

But what is the connection between feminist consciousness and ecological activism? Why aren’t more women eco-activists? How does feminist consciousness affect men? How can activists embrace and engage the eco-feminist connection? How can men rediscover the feminine through ecological activism?

And finally, what does this discussion tell us about the evolution of culture and consciousness in our time? What can we learn from the visionaries, pioneers, and activists in the field?

Excerpt from Thriving in the Crosscurrent: Clarity and Hope at a Time of Cultural Sea Change (Jim Kenney, Quest Books 2010), p. 203:

Is the Planet Really Sacred? Thomas Berry thought so. Before his death in 2009, Berry had become one of the most important religious voices addressing the human relationship to the Earth and the planetary community. In Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community, he wrote: “The ancient human-Earth relationship must be recovered in a new context, in its mystical as well as in its physical functioning. There is need for awareness that mountains and rivers and all living things, the sky and its sun and moon and clouds all constitute a healing, sustaining sacred presence for humans, which they need as much for their psychic integrity as for their physical nourishment.”

Theme: Peace and Gender Equity

The slow decline of patriarchy’s long domination of human society and culture is one of the hallmarks of the cultural evolutionary transformation that marks our age. Joan Chittister has long been one of the most eloquent voices for gender equity and one of the most tireless and effective activist working for planetary cultural change. In this conversation, we learn why new understandings of gender and culture are vital components of the linked struggles for human rights, social and economic justice, and peace in our time.

Excerpt from Thriving in the Crosscurrent: Clarity and Hope at a Time of Cultural Sea Change (Jim Kenney, Quest Books 2010), p. 202-203:

The sea change associated with the First Axial Age (the first millennium BCE and the birth of the great classical religions), like all major cultural evolutionary shifts, eventually disclosed its darker aspects. One, as Leonard Swidler has shown, was a world dominated by competing religious and cultural monologues. Another was the universal ascent of the patriarchal order, replacing what may well have been fairly widespread egalitarian gender norms. The great traditions all seem to have succumbed to the male-dominance paradigm that is still preeminent, though dramatically eroding, in religions today.

The Feminenza Network (“an international network of women formed in April 2000, working in 16 countries with a view to pioneering a new template for women”) describes the healing process: “The establishment of basic human rights for women (at least in the West) that has occurred in the last 100 years can be perceived as restoring a more natural state of affairs between men and women that started to go wrong during the start of what some historians call ‘The Axial Age.’”

Women’s reempowering represents a transformative aspect of the current cultural evolutionary flux. Swidler notes that the end of the age of monologue emerged first in an interreligious context, but eventually affected the entire spectrum of the global culture shift. In the same way, a transformation of women’s role in religious institutions and of the feminine in spirituality is a major marker not only of the Second Axial shift but also of the entire twenty-first-century sea change.


The Chiang Mai Declaration: Religion and Women—An Agenda for Change (The Peace Council, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2004)



Chung Hyun Kyung: a brief profile

Hyun Kyung and Alice Walker

Union Theological Seminary

Joan Chittister, “Women, Power, and Peace”

The Peace Council and the Chiang Mai Declaration on Women and Religion (A Study Guide)

Benetvision (Benedictine Sisters of Erie resource center for contemporary spirituality)