Women are glue that holds society together. As we continue our celebration of International Women’s Day, here is a list of incredible women who are leading activist efforts in the area of climate change and sustainability.
Gro Harlem Brundtland
“Economies are stalling. Ecosystems are under siege. Inequality – within and between countries – is soaring. These afflictions are clearly rooted in political short-sightedness, where narrow interests triumph over common interests, common responsibilities and common sense.”
“Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can ‘solve the climate crisis’. But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”
Greta Thunberg is a young climate activist from Sweden who started an international movement to fight climate change in 2018. With the strong yet simple message “School strike for climate” handwritten on poster board, Thunberg skipped school on Fridays to protest outside the Swedish Parliament. Thanks to social media, her actions have spread and influenced millions of young people all over the world to organize and protest. Through “Fridays For Future,” Thunberg and other enraged youths throughout the world pressure leaders and lawmakers to act on climate change.
“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?’”
Rachel Louise Carson (1907-1964) was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose influential book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. Already having the disadvantage of being a female scientist in a male dominated field, Carson emerged at a time when individual and corporate profits were thriving at the expense of environmental health, making her a hero to some and a heretic to others.
“Our past, our present, and whatever remains of our future, absolutely depend on what we do now.”
Affectionately known as “Her Deepness,” National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle holds the record for deepest walk on the sea floor. She is a world-renowned expert on marine biology. The first woman to lead the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Earle advocates for ocean conservation and education.
“Diversity creates harmony, and harmony creates beauty, balance, bounty, and peace in nature and society, in agriculture and culture, in science and in politics.”
Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental thinker, activist, feminist, philosopher of science, writer and science policy advocate. She is the founder of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (India) and President of Navdanya International. Shiva believes that the intersection between feminism and ecology is inseparable, making her a leader in the Ecofeminist movement.
“Awareness is key. In the absence of information, none of us know what is happening and what could be jeopardizing our health, our water supply, and our planet.”
Erin Brockovich is an American environmental activist, consumer advocate and legal clerk. She played an immense role in filing a case against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), in California in 1993, despite not having a formal law education. She passionately developed the case, and continues to passionately advocate for the planet. Erin proves that no matter your background, anybody can make a difference.
“I think that when you abuse your environment, you abuse yourself.”
Isatou Ceesay is a Gambian environmental activist and recycling advocate. he initiated a recycling movement called One Plastic Bag in the Gambia. Through this movement, she educated women in Gambia to recycle plastic polluti9on into sellable products that earned them income She started the organization, the Njau Recycling and Income Generation Group. Hundreds of women participate in the organization. Together, they gather trash for repurposing, reducing landfill waste.
“For many parts of our natural environment it is already too late, for many communities their lives have already been turned upside down. Support for them is non-negotiable. However, this is not an excuse to give up on delivering serious, systematic emissions cuts. This is bad, but it could get significantly worse.”
Helen Clarkson believes that big brands can influence positive action from other companies and customers, accelerating the clean energy transition around the world. Clarkson joined The Climate Group as chief executive officer. She works with multiple brands across the planet in order to establish sustainable business practices in the world’s largest companies.
“We don’t have time to sit on our hands as our planet burns. For young people, climate change is bigger than election or re-election. It’s life or death.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest women to ever be elected to US Congress. Representing New York’s 14th district, she passionately advocates for climate policy. Controversially, she introduced The Green New Deal, an initiative focused on decarbonizing the US economy within 10 years. Furthermore, climate change disproportionately affects marginalized communities, and her plans seek to revitalize these communities while protecting the planet.
“Fortunately, nature is amazingly resilient: places we have destroyed, given time and help, can once again support life, and endangered species can be given a second chance. And there is a growing number of people, especially young people, who are aware of these problems and are fighting for the survival of our only home, Planet Earth. We must all join that fight before it is too late.”