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Celebrating the Lives of International Female Environmentalists

We are grateful for their contributions.

Sometimes we believe that the actions of a few can not possibly impact entire communities or generations. We are honored and grateful to share the stories of women who directly and indirectly impacted the lives of people within their own communities with rippling effects felt around the world.


PHOTO of Wangari Maathai by (c) Patrick Wallet

Wangari Maathai was active in the National Council of Women of Kenya in 1976-87 and was its chairman in 1981-87. It was while she served in the National Council of Women that she introduced the idea of planting trees with the people in 1976 and continued to develop it into a broad-based, grassroots organization whose main focus is the planting of trees with women groups in order to conserve the environment and improve their quality of life. However, through the Green Belt Movement she has assisted women in planting more than 20 million trees on their farms and on schools and church compounds. 

Over the past three decades, Vandana Shiva has tried to be the change she wants to see. When she found that dominant science and technology served the interests of the powerful, she left academics to found the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, a participatory, public interest research organization. When she found global corporations wanted to patent seeds, crops, or life forms, she started Navdanya to protect biodiversity, defend farmers’ rights and promote organic farming.

Navdanya/RFSTE’s journey over the past two decades has taken then into creating markets for farmers and promoting tasty, healthy, high-quality food for consumers. They have connected the seed to the kitchen, biodiversity to gastronomy. And now they have joined hands with Slow Food to celebrate the quality and cultural diversity of our food.

The defense of nature’s rights and people’s rights have come together for her in Earth Democracy – the democracy of all life on earth, a living democracy that supports and is supported by living culture and living economies.

Vandana Shiva
Winona LaDuke Executive Director of Honor The Earth

In 1989, Winona LaDuke founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) in Minnesota with the proceeds of a human rights award from Reebok. The goal is to buy back land in the reservation that non-Natives bought and to create enterprises that provide work to Anishinaabe. By 2000, the foundation had bought 1,200 acres, which it held in a conservation trust for eventual cession to the tribe.[3]

WELRP is also working to reforest the lands and revive cultivation of wild rice, long a traditional food. It markets that and other traditional products, including hominy, jam, buffalo sausage, and other products. It has started an Ojibwe language program, a herd of buffalo, and a wind-energy project.[3]

LaDuke is also executive director of Honor the Earth, an organization she co-founded with the non-Native folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls in 1993. The organization’s mission is:

to create awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities. Honor the Earth develops these resources by using music, the arts, the media, and Indigenous wisdom to ask people to recognize our joint dependency on the Earth and be a voice for those not heard.[5]

Information sourced from Wikipedia

Marjory Stoneman Douglas (April 7, 1890 – May 14, 1998) was an American journalist, author, women’s suffrage advocate, and conservationist known for her staunch defense of the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development. Moving to Miami as a young woman to work for The Miami Herald, she became a freelance writer, producing over one hundred short stories that were published in popular magazines. Her most influential work was the book The Everglades: River of Grass (1947), which redefined the popular conception of the Everglades as a treasured river instead of a worthless swamp. Its impact has been compared to that of Rachel Carson‘s influential book Silent Spring (1962). Her books, stories, and journalism career brought her influence in Miami, enabling her to advance her causes. Douglas lived to 108, working until nearly the end of her life for Everglades restoration.

Information sourced from Wikipedia

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