March is women’s history month, and this year in particular we think that it’s important to point out the contributions that women have made to science, especially environmental science and awareness. Several years ago, we made our April Earth Day Month environmentalist feature Rachel Carson, but she’s far from the only woman to have fought for the planet and awareness of the need to save it. Today, we’re running through some of our favorite female environmentalists whom you may or may not have been aware of.
Wangari Maathai: A Billion Trees and Counting!
Wangari Maathai is most famous in environmental circles for being the frontwoman for the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign. But her story is much richer than the trees she’s led the charge to populate the world with. She was both the first African woman and the first environmentalist to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. While her fight isn’t limited to environmentalism and also includes women’s rights and combatting poverty, she’s unquestionably one of the women who matters most in the struggle to save the planet.
Vandana Shiva: Growing Green and Healthy
We think we can all agree that chemical farming and GMO proliferation is one of the greatest threats to both the environment in general and the natural balance of the biosphere. Vandana Shiva is the founder of Navdanya, an Indian NGO developed to promote her environmental passion causes of organic farming and seed saving. While fighting against the profiteering of biotech companies, she empowers and creates eco-friendly food security for local communities.
Majora Carter: Urban Environmentalism at Its Best
Majora Carter is the founder of Sustainable South Bronx, which not only focuses on spearheading sustainability projects on the South Bronx waterfront but also runs one of the first green-collar job training programs in the nation. She’s a winner of the Rachel Carson Award, granted by the National Audubon Society, which already makes a place in our hearts for her. She’s described as an environmental justice advocate, which we believe is about the most impressive thing that anybody can be called these days!
Dian Fossey: Fighting Against Poaching and Habitat Loss
Dian Fossey isn’t the first woman who’s famous for her work with mountain gorillas, but her story is perhaps the most relevant in terms of showing the importance of fighting against the environmentally harmful practice of poaching. Fossey spent years in the jungles of Rwanda observing mountain-gorilla behavior and ultimately beginning a powerful campaign against the cruelty of poaching. Her mysterious death in her cabin in 1985 was most likely due to murder at the hands of a poacher or poaching group. She died protecting the animals she loved and the natural habitat they lived in, and her work continues through her charitable foundation, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
Winona LaDuke: Native American Principles Applied to Environmental Concerns
Winona LaDuke has spent her life working to merge her passions of Native American rights and environmental sustainability. She leads the White Earth Land Recovery Project, which revived the cultivation of wild rice in Minnesota and sells traditional foods under the label Native Harvest. She is also the founder of Honor the Earth, which provides grants to Native-run environmental initiatives. While her work is primarily with Native tribes, her hope is that as more people understand their connection to the Earth, sustainability initiatives will grow.
Isatau Ceesay: One Plastic Bag at a Time
Known as The Queen of Recycling in Gambia, Isatau Ceesay, like many African women, was forced to drop out of school at a young age. But her mind thrived despite the shortfall of available education. She saw the wasteful plastic bags littering and harming her village, strangling animals, killing plants and helping mosquitos to breed and she crafted a solution. She began the Njau Recycling and Income Generation Group, which weaves the colorful (and wasteful) plastic bags into usable baskets and purses which are both used locally and sold to raise funds for local needs. You can purchase one (or find a purchasing location) at their website, OnePlasticBag.
Did we miss a famous woman environmentalist or climate leader that you’d like to tell us about? Share her on the social media channels below.
Photo Credit: Indigo Skies Photography via Flickr