By Monica Fatogun
The month of March as we all know, celebrates women in power and women potentials. Cheers to every woman out there. I hope you had a wonderful and memorable International Women’s Day, and I hope you continue to #chooseToChallenge the norms as we strive for a more equitable world for both women and men.
To commemorate this celebratory month, I will be highlighting five women that have paved the way for environmentalism globally, and those that I personally gain inspiration from. They are ranked in no order and hope you enjoy learning about them:
- Amrita Devi
To study environmentalism in India is to know about this fearless lady right here. In 1731, she along with 363 women in a small village in Rajasthan India, sacrificed their lives for the protection of the
‘Khejral’ trees. This major moment planted the seed of the chipko movement among others. Her life’s work and story struck me and taught me that in order to care for the planet, you don’t need any form of qualification. All you need is to have just enough empathy.
Pic 1: Drawings of Amrita Devi and her daughters hugging the trees
- Wangari Maathai (Late)
“The generation that destroys the environment is not the generation that pays the price. That is the problem.”
She needs no introduction; she is a Kenyan environmentalist and the first African woman to win the Nobel prize in 2004. She is responsible for introducing the idea of community-based tree planting.
She continued to develop this idea into a broad-based grassroots organisation, the Green Belt Movement (GBM), whose main focus is to reduce poverty and foster environmental conservation through tree planting.
- Dame Jane Goodall
“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”
Dame Jane Goodall is the most well-known primatologist. Her popularity grew because of her unconventional approach to her research, which transformed relationships between humans and animals from 1960. She was my first love. Her interactions with animals, especially the chimpanzees, mesmerised me to the point that I just had to be like her. I wanted to understand animals just like she did.
With the establishment of the Jane Goodall research institute, she’s now opportune to travel the world for speaking engagements about environmental concerns, while also encouraging young people to get active about the future of the planet.
- Sunita Narain
“Water is the key to dealing with the twin challenges of poverty and growth.”
She first struck my curiosity the first time I watched her documentaries. One of such documentaries was Leonardo Di Caprio’s “The Flood”(2016). Therein, she unabashedly raised her concerns on climate change in to Leonardowithou She is an Indian based environmentalist majorly active on climate action initiatives and water resource management. Sunita is presently the Director-General of the India-based research institute; Centre for Science and Environment.
- Amina J Mohammed
Amina J Mohammed is a nigerian politician and is presently the deputy secretary-general of the United Nations and was the federal minister of environment in Nigeria from 2015-2017. She played a major role in cleaning of the numerous oil spills in Ogoni Niger-Delta region. She was responsible for the enactment of the Sustainable Development Goals by the U.N in Nigeria. She is one of the celebrated environmentalists from Nigeria who is a beacon of hope to many people in the environment sector, including me.
It is important for us all as humans to clamour for better laws and policies to protect our planet. It is indeed a responsibility bestowed upon all of us to save the planet for future generations. Truth be told, women and children living in underprivileged communities will be the most hit by the negative impacts of climate change. It is no wonder why and indeed, most encouraging how women across the globe are advocating and championing for governments and industry kings to take climate actions and changes more seriously in all parts of the world.
*Fatogun, a Wildlife Conservationist writes from Lagos.