International Women’s Day is an observance that takes place every year on March 8th to honor the sacrifices and achievements of women across the globe who have, who do, and who will fight for justice, serve as leaders, and generally pave the way for a better future. The theme for 2022 is #BreakTheBias, and it refers to the goal of establishing a gender-equal world in which people of all cultural and geographical backgrounds can cooperate and celebrate one another. In this spirit, we have compiled a list of eight female environmental activists we admire. They hail from different continents, and their work centers on various issues. Still, they share the same dream of reviving human-environmental connections that are sustainable and fair to all involved.
Thank you for taking the time to hear their stories!
8 Female Environmental Activists from Around the World
- Wangari Maathaĩ : Maathaĩ was the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Prize, and from only a glance at her work, you would be able to understand why. A Doctor of Philosophy, she applied her diverse skill set to work with the environment. She founded the Green Belt Movement, an NGO that focuses on environmental and women’s rights, and she was also a member of Parliament and environmental advisor to the Kenyan government.
2. Vandana Shiva: Shiva founded Navdanya, an Indian-based NGO that holds cultural and biological diversity as its foundational values. Her aim is simple: “I don’t want to live in a world where five giant companies control our health and our food.” She has received the prestigious Right Livelihood Award for her extensive activism and intellectual work.
3. Winona LaDuke: Another activist involved in the realm of food systems, environmental justice, and climate change, LaDuke founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project to nurture and revive Indigenous relationships with the land. Thus, her work parimarly revolves around land stewardship. She has won numerous awards, and she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
4. Berta Cáceres: Berta Cáceres was a prominent justice advocate for the Lenca people, a Honduran indigenous community that has been brutally displaced by dam and construction projects since the early 2000s. She called for the preservation of the Lenca’s homeland, which holds spiritual significance and precious natural resources that cannot be replaced. In the face of frequent violence, she demonstrated impressive dedication to achieving her goals. She won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 before being killed in 2016 at her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Her fellow activists and family members continue to seek justice on her behalf.
5. Erin Brockovich: You may have seen her played by Julia Roberts in the Oscar-winning film of the same name. Brockovich is an environmental and consumer rights activist whose most well-known case involved the groundwater contamination caused by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company in California. Though she received no formal legal education, experience and passion have taught her enough to succeed in her anti-pollution lawsuits.
6. Sunita Narain: Based in Delhi, India, Narain specializes in shaping the international cooperation measures required to achieve climate forward goals. A talented writer, she achieved the Padma Shri in 2005, and she continues to work on issues like climate change, food, and water safety, waste management, and air pollution.
7. Margie Richard: Richard achieved the impressive feat of acquiring an agreement from Shell Chemicals to reduce its emissions by 30%, as well as to pay for the relocation and community development of members of the Old Diamond neighborhood, which suffered from the company’s toxic emissions (they experienced extremely high rates of cancer and birth defects). She was the first African-American to win the Goldman Environmental Prize.
8. Ngụy Thị Khanh: Khanh has helped lead Vietnam away from fossil fuels, advocating renewable energy as a replacement for coal. As part of her efforts, she founded the Green Innovation and Development Center (GreenID), which has advised the government in their development and climate action plans. Khanh also won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018.