Written by: Allie Willison, Staff Writer @blueland
February 25, 2021
Women have been fighting for the planet for over a century, digging into the structures that make up our world to uncover the harmful effects humankind can have on our planet as well as ourselves.
From the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Jane Addams, to Wangari Maathai, another Nobel Peace Prize recipient. History has a plethora of women environmentalists, and as the youth inherit the earth there are many women across the globe following in their footsteps.
Greta Thunberg (https://time.com/person-of-the-year-2019-greta-thunberg/) is a force to be reckoned with. Dubbed climates Joan of Arc by Margret Attwood and she lives up to the name. Named Person of the Year by Time Magazine in 2019, she has become one of the most recognizable environmentalists to date.
It started when she skipped school in 2018 to protest in front of the Swedish parliament, holding a sign that read:
Skolstrejk för klimatet or School Strike for Climate
And only 16 months later she helped spur 4 million to join a climate strike in September of 2019 (https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/9/20/20876143/climate-strike-2019-september-20-crowd-estimate), had spoken at the U.N., and been absolute when addressing world leaders on the need for action.
She once said to a crowd of CEOs and world leaders. “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” This kind of gumption has made her into an icon and inspired millions to support climate action around the world.
Disha Ravi (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/18/disha-ravi-the-climate-activist-who-became-the-face-of-indias-crackdown-on-dissent)is an Indian climate activist who has become the face of the recent protests across India after her arrest in mid-February. She has been active in environmentalism since 2019, as co-founder of the FFF (Fridays For Future) Indian branch.
“We are not just fighting for our future, we are fighting for our present,” she was quoted in 2020. “We, the people from the most affected are going to change the conversation in climate negotiations and lead a just recovery plan that benefits people and not the pockets of our government.”
Autumn Peltier (https://naaee.org/about-us/people/autumn-peltier) is a First Nations environmental activist who has been fighting for clean water since she was 12 years old. Dubbed the “Water Warrior” she famously addressed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2016 about his support of pipelines and the lack of protection of indigionous water sources. She has addressed the U.N., been nominated for the Children’s Peace Prize, and was named the chief water commissioner of the Anishinabek Nation at age 14.
In 2019 she addressed the U.N. yet again and stated, “I said it once, and I will say it again. We can’t eat money or drink oil.” Going on to say, “We have this one last chance to save our planet. Let’s do this for our great, great grandchildren.”
Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar
Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/560224) is a Maylaisan environmental activist responsible for rallying over 1,000 for a protest to get her government to address climate change. She is the founder of Klima Action Malaysia or Kamy, an activist group that was only created 4 months before the protest in 2019. While in school for a degree in environmental science, she was exposed to activist groups like the Sunrise Movement and inspired to bring that momentum to Malaysia.
Jamie Margolin (https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/zero-hour-youth-climate-activist-jamie-margolin-video-979679/), a co-founder of the climate group Zero Hour (http://thisiszerohour.org/who-we-are/), is a young activist from Seattle who is determined to fight the growing climate crisis. Being a first generation American, and daughter of Colombian immigrants, she is committed to uplifting Latinx voices in the climate movement. After taking to social media when she felt she wasn’t making as big a difference locally, she and other activists across the country were able to form Zero Hour. She was also essential in organizing the 2018 Youth Climate March.
She calls for systemic change over individual change. “We can’t blame someone for using a plastic utensil if that’s all they have,” she told Rolling Stone in 2020. “We’re not in this climate crisis because a couple of individuals were irresponsible. We’re in this climate crisis because there has been mass systematic oppression, capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and racism. All of these systems have been pushing people down for so long, and communities are suffering.”
Nadia Nazar (https://www.ioes.ucla.edu/person/nadia-nazar/) is also a co-founder of Zero Hour and a climate activist based in Baltimore. She spoke at the 2018 International Day of the Girl summit to address how the climate crisis affects girls all over the world. Being Zero Hour’s Art Director, she uses art to communicate and uplift climate action.
“The climate crisis is the largest threat to every single person and living thing on this planet,” she told Vox (https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/10/11/20904791/young-climate-activists-of-color) in 2019. “We must make sure that we include everyone in our solutions because everyone needs to be uplifted. This movement led by Indigenous, frontline, and youth of color will win and achieve a livable planet for all,”
Nakabuye Hilda (https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2020/02/climate-change-activist-hilda-nakabuye-mobilizing-africas-youth/) is a Ugandan environmentalist and activist. She is the founder of the Ugandan chapter of Fridays For Future, which is now 25,000 strong in their fight for the planet. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, she started working to bring awareness to her own country, and though discouraged at first, she took to the street outside her university with her own sign that read: I’m a young climate activist demanding climate action.
Since then the movement started by her has grown beyond Uganda, to Gabon, Nigeria, Angola, Togo, Niger and other African countries. “Our actions are starting to pay off,” she said. “Every other day, more young people come into the movement. We still have a lot of work to do until everyone understands that climate change is real and starts to engage in actions that can preserve our environment.”
Isra Hirsi (https://www.internationalcongressofyouthvoices.com/isra-hirsi) is the daughter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and is a co-founder of the Youth Climate Strike. She organizes locally and nationally to encourage young people to join the climate movement with a focus on making space for young people of color. Her focus is on environmental justice and how to inspire those in cities into climate action.
She told Vice (https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/10/11/20904791/young-climate-activists-of-color), “Everyone should be able to see themselves in a movement like this, and if you don’t, then that’s reason to make this space more inclusive.”
These young women are the next generation of environmentalists and activists who are determined to change the world. Their tenacity and dedication to climate change has proven they are willing to fight the big fight, as well as see it through and make women everywhere proud.