The crisis of survival and the threat to sustenance arises from ecological disruption that is rooted in the arrogance of the west and those that ape it. This arrogance is grounded in a blindness towards the quiet work and the invisible wealth created by nature and women and those who produce sustenance. Such work and wealth are ‘invisible’ because they are decentred, local, and in harmony with local ecosystems and needs. The more effectively the cycles of life, as essential ecological processes, are maintained, the more invisible they become. Disruption is violent and visible; balance and harmony are experienced, not seen. The premium on visibility placed by patriarchal maldevelopment forces the destruction of invisible energies and the work of women and nature, and the creation of spectacular, centralized work and wealth.
Such centralization and the uniformity associated with it works further against the diversity and plurality of life. Work and wealth in accordance with the feminine principle are significant precisely because they are rooted in stability and sustainability. Decentred diversity is the source of nature’s work and women’s productivity; it is the work of ‘insignificant’ plants in creating significant changes which shift the ecological equilibrium in life’s favour. It is the energy of all living things, in all their diversity, and together, the diversity of lives wields tremendous energy. Women’s work is similarly invisible in providing sustenance and creating wealth for basic needs. Their work in the forest, the field, and the river creates sustenance in quiet but essential ways. Every woman in every house in every village of rural India works invisibly to provide the stuff of life to nature and people. It is this invisible work that is linked to nature and needs, which conserves nature through maintaining ecological cycles, and conserves human life by satisfying the basic needs of food, nutrition, and water. It is this essential work that is destroyed and dispensed with by maldevelopment: the maintenance of ecological cycles has no place in a political economy of commodity and cash flows. …
The revolutionary and liberational potential of the recovery of the feminine principle consists in its challenging the concepts, categories, and processes which have created the threat to life, and in providing oppositional categories that create and enlarge the spaces for maintaining and enriching all life in nature and society. The radical shift induced by a focus on the feminine principle is the recognition of maldevelopment as a culture of destruction. The feminine principle becomes a category of challenge, which locates nature and women as the source of life and wealth, and as such, active subjects, maintaining and creating life-processes.
Vandana Shiva, “Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development,” South End Press 2010, pp 44-46.