4 Inspiring Women Fighting for Sustainability
Looking back on International Women’s Month (which, if you ask us, should be EVERY month) we are honoring four inspiring female leaders who are leading the fight for sustainability and protecting our planet! Their courage and strength have led to great change around the globe.
In August 2018, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, 15, spent her school days outside the Swedish parliament calling for stronger action on climate change by holding up a sign reading "Skolstrejk för klimatet" (school strike for climate). Her image went viral and later that year, she addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which sparked multiple school protests around the world. Her global influence has been dubbed the "Greta Effect" and she was named Time magazine's person of the year in 2019. She has received widespread recognition for her straight-talking manner, both in public and to political leaders around the world.
As head of the UN climate change convention, Christiana Figueres brought together the biggest voices in government, finance and technology, NGOs and activists to deliver the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. She persuaded 195 countries to commit to keeping a global temperature rise this century below two degrees Celsius. She's also the founder of the Global Optimism group, a platform which works with organizations to make their systems more sustainable. Her new book, The Future We Choose: Surviving The Climate Crisis, focuses on changing people's consciousness towards climate change and offers 10 actions which include building gender equality. Her goal? To halve our emissions by 2030.
Native American land rights activist, environmentalist and politician, Winona LaDuke has spent her career championing sustainable development, renewable energy and environmental justice with indigenous communities. In 1985, she helped found the Indigenous Women's Network and has fought to recover lands for the Anishinaabe, an indigenous community in what is now the USA and Canada. In 1989, she founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota, which is one of the largest reservation-based nonprofit organizations in the US, with a goal to buy back land within the reservation that belonged to the indigenous people. In 2000, the foundation had bought 1,200 acres and worked to revive the harvesting of wild rice, the traditional food of the Ojibwe people.
Known in The Gambia as the "Queen of Plastic", Isatou Ceesay has been empowering women there to recycle plastic waste, the country's biggest pollutant, for 17 years. Along with four others, Ceesay initiated a recycling project called One Plastic Bag in 1998 near her native village, which aimed to educate communities on the necessity to reclaim waste and turn it into revenue. Every week, members of the Women Initiative The Gambia (WIG) produce craft wallets, bags and balls for children using the reclaimed plastic bags which they cut, knit and sew. The group has amassed more than 2,000 members in 40 different communities throughout the country with many communities now opting to use paper bags in local stores.