“They’re driven by love. And they’re fierce.”
In the lead up to International Women’s Day, I asked the staff of 350.org who were some of the women that inspire them in the climate justice movement. Women all over the world bear the brunt of climate impacts; however, it’s crucial to remember that they are also leaders in finding and implementing real sustainable solutions.
I also hope that International Women’s Day can progress to be more queer-inclusive and so I welcomed stories of women, trans, and gender-non-conforming people.
Here were the incredible responses from our team around the globe:
– Melina Laboucan-Massimo
Climate & Energy Campaigner Greenpeace Alberta Tar Sands Campaign
“She’s an amazing leader from the frontlines of the tar sands and has worked tirelessly to connect the issue of missing & murdered indigenous women with climate justice.”
– Lidy Nacpil
Convener of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and Asia coordinator of Jubilee South, vice president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition of the Philippines. She also serves on the board of 350.org and is the coordinator of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice.
“Lidy was a student activist during the Marcos’ regime. Her first husband, Lean Alejandro, was believed to have been killed by the rogue elements military in 1987. Since then, continued her work on economic and social justice and is now considered one of the leading experts on the subject.”
Watch her interview with Amy Goodman during the recent climate talks in Lima, Peru in December 2014.
– Naomi Klein
Author, journalist, activist
Beyond the fact that she is an incredibly intelligent woman who brings the world some honest truths it needs to hear — in her many interviews with the press she continually highlights the role of so many of the women on the frontlines of fighting climate change.
– Koreti Tiumalu
Pacific Coordinator 350.org
“This woman inspires me to become the best I can be in this movement. She took me under her wing and showed me all the amazing things that can happen if I believe. Strong and courageous with a warm heart, these are the important things that make an inspiring woman.”
Watch her speech at Power Shift 2013
– Christine Milne
An Australian Senator and leader of the parliamentary caucus of the Australian Greens.
“I cannot even begin to imagine where we would be in Australia without her years of leadership on climate. She is without a doubt one of the most knowledgable people in Australia when it comes to climate policy and is unbelievably generous with her time, especially with young people.”
– Amelia Telford, Maria Clague and Larissa Baldwin
Organisers at Seed
“Seed is an amazing project which is organising young Indigenous Australians around the country to take part in the fight for climate justice. It’s difficult work that hasn’t really been done before but it is so vital to the climate fight. The work they are doing is absolutely vital and the fact that it is being led by three young women is just so cool.”
– Ewa Jasiewicz
“She’s an all-round radical uncompromising activist. She’s involved in Palestine solidarity work, union organising, and is a journalist/writer as well – and does everything amazingly. She occupied a gas-powered power station in a high profile story here in the UK. She’s also leading efforts against fuel poverty, and working with pensioners’ associations in the process. She’s not one who engages with mainstream climate stuff and is uninterested in working at the margins – she *makes* the margins into the mainstream. She’s amazing at connecting the dots. She’s super smart and kind.”
– Wangari Maathai
The founder of the Green Belt Movement and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
“When you talk of women and climate in Africa, you’ve gotta talk about Mama Trees! Sadly, she passed away in 2011, but she left an amazing legacy in Africa and Kenya especially and we still reference her a lot in our work.”
– Anjali Appadurai
“It was just a short speech, but I remember her talking at the 2011 Durban conference, and it hitting me like a lightning bolt… the power and the clarity and the compassion of what she said has stuck with me for years.”
– Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement!
“I can’t just choose one woman – but I just wanted to give a shoutout to all the badass women who are many of the crucial leaders of the fossil fuel divestment movement in the United States. Through my organizing around divestment the past 2 and a half years I have met more phenomenal women and queer organizers who are deeply committed to climate justice. It’s striking and inspiring that so many women are leading the movement to move our universities away from fossil fuels. ”
– Inna Datsiuk, Olga Monchak and Helen Angelova
“These three started the Ukrainian Youth Climate Association few years ago and have been developing it to become a leading youth-based movement building organization in the region.”
– Iryna Stavchuk and Nastassia Bekish
” Iryna is a leading climate and policy expert at National Environmental Center of Ukraine and a mom, rocking the analytical work and inspiring many to step on the climate activism path.”
“Nastassia is a mother of two, climate policy adviser at Green Alliance Belarus and a co-coordinator of CAN-EECCA together with Iryna Stavchuk.”
– Tatyana Kargina
“One of the brightest environmental activists in Russia, tirelessly leading on numerous fights, including the iconic movement against Copper-Nickel mining in Voronezh region in place named Khoper and numerous others.”
– Giovanna Di Chiro
The Lang Professor for Issues of Social Change at Swarthmore College, and Policy Advisor for Environmental Justice at Nuestras Raíces, Inc. in Holyoke, Massachusetts
“Because she articulates environmental, climate and reproductive justice; because she’s not only a thinker but is involved in organising (toxic tours); because of her claim to “bring ecology back home”.”
– Colette Pichon-Battle
Executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy
In a 2014 interview she said: “Today should not have to be about reminding the nation that thousands of Gulf Coast residents continue to be impacted by the environmental and economic damage created by the BP oil disaster. The request by coastal residents four years later is the same as in 2010. Clean up the oil. Pay for the damage. And ensure that this never happens again.”
– Shadia Wood
Founder and Director of Project Survival Media
“Shadia is an inspiration because she partners with women around the world to tell stories from the front lines of the climate crisis — empowering them to make beautiful videos, amplify underrepresented voices, and become catalysts for change in their communities.”
– Anna Goldstein
U.S. Deputy Director 350.org
“The way she combines pragmatism and idealism, joy and seriousness, playfulness and responsibility, wisdom and humility, she’s truly an inspiration — I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought, I hope I can be more like Anna.”
I get to wrap up this list with my own nomination:
– Oo Nie Kie
She was a young woman from the Karen ethnic minority in eastern Burma, and also my good friend and neighbor. Oo Nie Kie had an effervescent personality and took care of many people around her. Educating women and whole communities in Karen state about the connections between gender justice and environmental justice was her passion. Even though Karen areas were still thick in a civil war with Burma’s military regime, she would spend weeks in villages at a time running training programs. I recorded this little video below one night after we cooked dinner, and just let her talk about some reflections. She had just returned to the Thai-Burma border after seeing the environmental devastation in her home. Not only do Karen women have to face the atrocities of the Burma Army, as well as patriarchy, but also abuses from foreign companies building pipelines through the region. When Oo Nie Kie passed away in September 2009 it was a massive blow to the community. I know she would have loved to meet every person on this list.
There are so many more people that should be added! Who inspires you? Share on your social media.