International Women’s Day 2021: 5 women environmentalists you should know

International Women’s Day 2021: 5 women environmentalists you should know

Women bear the brunt of climate change according to the research. But they are also guiding the fight against it, with resilience, courage, and innovation.

 Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

To mark International Women’s Day 2021, we’re celebrating leading female environmentalists across the world. 


Jane Goodall – Primatologist

Dr Goodall is most well known for her study of chimpanzees. In 1960, she left England for the forests of Tanzania to discover the secrets of humans’ closest relatives. 

The experience turned her into a fervent conservationist: in 1970, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute to help protect the primates and their habitat. Hers was a revolutionising approach, as, for the first time, local communities took centre stage in conservation efforts, a model still applied today. 

In 1991, she set up the Roots and Shoots programme for your people, which turns 30 this year. It connects children in 100 countries united by the desire to help make the world a better place. 

Even the pandemic didn’t stop her. Unable to share her wisdom in person, at age 86, Dr Goodall turned to podcasts. In The Jane Goodall Hopecast, she takes us on a journey into her extraordinary life and the growing movement it sparked. 


Vanessa Nakate – Activist 

At 22, Vanessa mobilised her country in the fight against climate change. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, in 2019 she started her own climate movement in Uganda. For months she stood outside the Ugandan Parliament to draw attention to deforestation in the Congolian Rainforests and protest the law makers’ inaction. Her efforts gave life to Fridays for Future Africa and the African branch of the Rise Up Movement for climate change awareness. 

Despite her young age, she already has remarkable achievements under her belt: in December 2019 she spoke before world delegates at the UN’s COP25 climate conferences in Spain. She was one of the young activists calling leaders to stop subsidising fossil fuels at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, and later last year gave a speech at the Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture urging governments to declare a climate emergency. 

Recently, she started her Green Schools Project, supporting the installation of solar systems and energy-saving stoves in schools. So far, the initiative has successfully involved six schools and is raising funds to convert more. 

Follow Vanessa’s journey on Instagram.


Vandana Shiva – Scientist and author

It is difficult to imagine a more diverse and impactful career than Dr Shiva’s. After studying physics in India, she moved to Canada to pursue a degree in philosophy of science and later completed a PhD in philosophy. Her multidisciplinary studies include science, technology and environmental policy. 

Dr Shiva is better known for her work in agriculture. She has fought against the use of pesticides and advocated for Indian farmers’ rights, fair trade, organic farming and biodiversity through her organisation, Navdanya, “nine seeds”. 

Her writing and activism also gave rise to ecofeminism, which views both the earth’s and women’s struggles as a result of a male-dominated society. Dr Shiva is helping change the perception of third-world women, their relationship with nature and the role they play in ecology. 

Keep updated with Dr Shiva’s campaigns on Twitter


Marina Silva – Politician 

In Latin, silva means forest or woodland. And what better name for the woman born in the Amazon rainforest who spent her life protecting it. 

As a child, Marina Silva helped her father in a rubber plantation in the Brazilian state of Acre. Her early experiences shaped her desire to preserve the rainforest and in the 80s, she helped organise the empates – peaceful demonstrations by forest-dwelling rubber tappers against deforestation. 

Throughout her political career, she never lost contact with forest communities, becoming a symbol of grassroots resistance. As a senator and minister for the environment, Silva built support for environmental protection of the reserves, social justice and sustainable development in the Amazon region. 

Currently the spokeswoman for Brazil’s Sustainability Party, she continues to campaign for the environment opposing the current government’s nuclear energy plans in favour of renewable energy. 


Natalie Isaac – CEO and activist

Natalie Isaacs is the founder and CEO of 1 Million Women, a global movement of women and girls who fight climate change through a lifestyle revolution. 

A former cosmetics manufacturer, like many of us at some point Natalie thought climate change was “someone else’s problem”. Then, she realised that individual action matters in the path to solving the climate crisis. She decided to leave behind the over-packaged world of beauty to create an organisation that inspires women to act. 

Since 2009, 1 Million Women has become one of Australia’s largest environmental networks. It is rapidly expanding internationally and includes 965,000 women learning how to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. 

Natalie is considered a pioneer in gender and climate change in Australia and received a United Nations Award for 1 Million Women. Her journey from apathy to climate action empowers women and girls of all ages by delivering the simple message that “one small action at a time multiplied by millions and millions changes the system”.

Stay up to date with Natalie’s journey on Twitter.


Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

Know any inspiring women making waves in environmentalism in your community? Let us know by tagging us @charistaytravel on Facebook and Instagram.

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