“Hold up a mirror and ask yourself what you are capable of doing, and what you really care about. Then take the initiative - don’t wait for someone else to ask you to act.” 

-Sylvia Earle

In honor of International Women’s Day this year, we are spotlighting notable female environmentalists from past and present. Our hope is for these inspiring women to help you to believe that you are capable of anything, no matter what odds may be against and motivate you to cherish and protect our Earth. 

Wangari Maathai

Maathai was a Kenyan environmental, social and political activist and was the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology, she became the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, an environmental organization that focused on sustainable land-use practices, environmental conservation, and women's rights. Wangari stressed that environmental change was more than planting trees, emphasizing the importance of “planting ideas” and promoting action to create change. 



Vandana Shiva

Born in India in 1952, Shiva was a physicist and social activist. Shiva was an advocate for the preservation of biodiversity and most notably, fought against Asia’s Green Revolution, an international effort that began in the 1960s to increase food production in less-developed countries through the increased use of pesticides and fertilizers. Shiva believed that this effort had led to pollution, a loss of seed diversity and traditional agricultural knowledge. In response, Shiva established seed banks throughout India to preserve the country’s agricultural heritage while training farmers in sustainable agricultural practices.


Rachel Carson

Carson was a marine biologist and nature writer who authored the now-famous “Silent Spring” which exposed the truth about the use of chemicals and synthetic pesticides and the dangers associated with their use. Despite chemical companies attempting to discredit her by calling her a communist and a “hysterical woman”, Carson received medals from the National Audubon Society and the American Geographical Society and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Carson posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980 and she is largely recognized as the mother of the modern environmentalist movement today. 



Isatou Ceesay

Ceesay, known as the “Queen of Recycling” was born and raised in a small village in Gambia. As single-use plastic and pre-packaged food became more prevalent, Ceesay noticed a massive build-up of trash in her town. In 1977, Isatou founded the Recycling Centre of N’Jau, now renamed the Gambia Women’s Initiative. The focus of this project was to educate fellow villagers on the importance and benefits of plastic recycling but over the years the project has expanded to empower marginalized poor women to support their families by selling purses and bags made from recycled plastic.


Marina Silva

Known as “The Guardian of the Amazon”, Silva is a Brazilian politician and environmentalist and is currently Brazil’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Silva is extremely passionate about reducing deforestation in the Amazon and has dedicated her political career to this fight. As a result of her first stint as the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Silva reduced deforestation in the Amazon by 70%. However, Silvia still has a long fight ahead of her and has pledged to totally eradicate deforestation.


Sylvia Earle

 Sylvia Earle was an American oceanographer that is credited with raising awareness of the threats that overfishing and pollution pose to the world's oceans. Earle led many ocean expeditions, including leading the first all-female expedition team. These expeditions brought light to the effects of pollution on the delicate coral reefs and ocean ecosystems. Earle went on to become the first woman to serve as the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as National Geographic Society’s first female explorer in residence.


Vanessa Nakate 

 Nakate is a young Ugandan climate activist. Inspired by Sweden's Greta Thunberg, Vanessa began to take action against the climate crisis by protesting in front of the Ugandan parliament building. Vanessa has also spoken up about the power of Africa voices in response to an incident in which she was cropped out of a picture from a climate conference as she posed with white peers. Additionally, she has been one of the driving forces in a big campaign to save Congo's rainforest, which is facing massive deforestation.





What's the greatest lesson a woman should learn?


that since day one 
she's already had everything she
needs within herself
it's the world that convinced her she 
did not


-Rupi Kaur
March 07, 2024

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