Today is International Women’s Day, a day in which to celebrate women all around the world while also focusing on the many issues that women face on a regular basis. There have been so many women who have studied, worked with, and helped animals and the environment all across the world. In honor of their work and International Women’s Day, here are a few amazing women and women-led organizations to know:
- Dr. Jane Goodall was only 26 years old when she went to the Gombe forest in what is now Tanzania. She went to study wild chimpanzees and spent years making observations on how these animals live in the wild. She helped path the way for understanding these animals and for many women scientists. Dr. Goodall now travels the world to speak on the threats that chimpanzees face, environmental issues, and how we can all get involved. Learn more about her beginning research and life in the 2017 documentary Jane and much more at the Jane Goodall Institute.
- The Black Mamba APU is a mostly female anti-poaching unit in South Africa that works to end the poaching of rhinos. They work within the Balule Nature Reserve to make poaching within the reserve both undesirable and very difficult. Plus, the Black Mambas also do educational work with local schools to help children understanding the importance of conversation.
- To get to know two of the rangers in the Black Mamba APU, Fight for Rhinos interviewed two of the rangers back in the summer of 2015.
- Shivani Bhalla is a conservation biologist and founder/executive director of Ewaso Lions in Kenya. Since 2007, she has been doing work with Ewaso Lions to promote the co-existence between people and carnivores like lions. Using scientific research and focusing on the relationship between people and lions, Ewaso Lions works with local communities to provide education, training, and conservation practices that help people and wildlife alike.
- Agnes Baker Pilgrim belongs to the Federated Tribes of Siletz and is one of the oldest members of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, an organization that represents a diverse group of women who have devoted their lives to prayer and action. Pilgrim has worked on many issues over the years and has spoken out for animals, trees, water, and all beings. After 140 years, she brought back the Salmon Ceremony to welcome returning salmon in 1994. The Salmon Ceremony was held on the Kanaka Flats on the Applegate River in southern Oregon from 1994 to 2006 before it was moved to the Ti’lomikh (Powerhouse Falls) in 2007.
- Wangari Maathai was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization that works to empower communities (especially women) to work on environmental conservation. Maathai was the first woman in East and Central Africa to receive a Ph.D after getting a Ph.D from the University of Nairobi in 1971. While working with National Council of Women of Kenya in the late 1970s, she introduced the idea of community-based tree planting, which eventually became the Green Belt Movement. Her work on environmental conservation has helped people and wildlife alike.
- Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist, writer, and water protector. She is the Executive Director of the organization Honor the Earth, an organization she co-founded with the Indigo Girls and founder of the non-profit White Earth Land Recovery Project. Books by LaDuke include”
- Greta Thunberg is an 18-year-old climate activist who is internationally known for her ‘School Strike for Climate’ and her challenges of world leaders. Students from around the world have repeatedly joined Greta’s school strike for climate, highlighting the fact that the younger generations will have to deal with the consequences of older generations’ actions.
These women are just some of the many, many women who have and continue to work on environmental and wildlife conservation. If you want to learn more, I definitely encourage you to look into the ongoing work being done by women in the fields of conservation, science (of all kinds), and more! The movement Women for Wildlife is a great place to start to learn more. The podcast ‘Lady Science’ also has an episode titled ‘How Women Built the Environmental Movement’.
There are many women working here in the Pacific Northwest and around the world to protect the environment and wildlife. To all those women and many more soon to come, thank you!