8 Women Environmentalists Who Are Saving the Planet
Women Who Are Saving the Earth
8 stories (& doodles) of awesome women environmentalists
Berta Cáceres was an environmental activist and a Lenca indigenous leader in Honduras. She was the co-founder and coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, an organization that provides resources and education to rural indigenous populations across the country. In 2006, she worked with the Council and the Lenca community to oppose the construction of hydroelectric dams that would threaten the indigenous peoples' access to water, food, and medicine. The community actions and protests lasted for 10 years, with protesters regularly removed, imprisoned, and even attacked. Berta was assassinated in her home in 2016.
Jane Goodall is a British zoologist and anthropologist best known for conducting a 60-year study of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania in which she identified family dynamics and social interactions amongst the animals that closely mirrored human nature. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, a global wildlife and conservation organization, and the Roots & Shoots organization, which connects students of all ages to work together on conservation issues. Jane is also a UN Messenger of Peace, promoting the work of the UN as an ambassador for nearly 20 years.
Winona LaDuke is a Native American environmentalist, economist, and writer who is known for her work preserving tribal lands in the United States. She is the executive director and co-founder of Honor the Earth, an organization that supports Indigenous environmental justice and was at the forefront of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Winona also operates a 40-acre industrial hemp farm and is an advocate for the potential of hemp to decrease the reliance of the American economy on fossil fuels.
Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar and environmental activist. She is often referred to as "Gandhi of grain," a reference to her activism around food sovereignty. Her work in agriculture was inspired by the 1984 Bhopal disaster, a gas leak at a pesticide plant that exposed over 500,000 people to highly toxic gasses and resulted in thousands of deaths. Vandana advocates for seed freedom (rejecting corporate patenting of seeds) and against GMOs. She is also a founding councilor of the World Future Council, which is an independent caucus that advocates for policy that supports climate security.
Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist who initially gained notice in 2018 for initiating the School Strike for the Climate movement by spending her school days sitting outside of the Swedish Parliament. She inspired students to enact similar protests in their own communities, which eventually became the Fridays for Future or School Strike for Climate (SS4C) movement. Greta has spoken at various UN climate events, the World Economic Forum, the European Parliament, and the legislatures of Italy, France, the UK, and the US.
Sunita Narain is an Indian environmentalist and political activist. She is the director of the Centre for Science and Environment, a research and advocacy organization, and has been with the organization since 1982. In her tenure with the Centre, she has built the financial and managerial infrastructure for the programs and their over 100 staff members. Under her leadership, the Centre has exposed the high level of pesticides present in American brands of soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi, and continues to investigate food adulteration and consumer product safety.
Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Nairobi in Kenya, becoming the first woman in East and Central Africa to become a Doctor of Philosophy. She founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots organization focused on environmental conservation through the planting of trees, which in turn provides fuel for cooking, combats deforestation, curbs soil erosion, and educates and empowers women in rural areas to gain skills and generate income. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work, becoming the first African woman to win the award. Wangari passed away in 2011 due to complications from ovarian cancer.
Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist who is widely credited with catalyzing the modern global environmental movement. Her 1962 book Silent Spring warned of the negative impact that dangerous chemical pesticides have on the environment, and brought environmental concerns to a wider American audience than ever before. Rachel's research and advocacy led to policy and activism that eventually led to the creation of the US environmental Protection Agency.
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