As I have written before, during Women’s History Month, many green women leaders have been recognized and honored for their work on behalf of our planet. Earth Day provides us with another opportunity to honor and thank these women, and to highlight the important contributions they have made.
These include one of the most tireless anti-nuclear activists, Dr. Helen Caldicott, a well-known physician, pacifist and anti-nuclear activist who has worked for more than 35 years to educate the world about the medical and environmental hazards of nuclear energy. The author of Nuclear Madness, she was named by the Smithsonian Institute as one of the most influential women of the 20th century. In the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear accident, she is more active than ever.
Many of my personal green heroines are women farmers, especially those who lead the sustainable agriculture movement and show us there is a way to farm with the earth in mind.
I am also very inspired by women who not only work towards improving our planet, but towards improving communities and empowering women as well. One of the most inspiring of these women is Wangari Maathai, a 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner and the founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya.
She was the first African woman and the first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai began the Green Belt Movement as a grassroots tree planting campaign in the late 1970s, and it has grown into an international organization that works to improve rural communities by providing both sustenance and income opportunities through the planting of trees. It also works to empower women by raising awareness of women’s rights.
Maathai passed away last September, but the movement she started is still going strong. They have created a campaign to honor her memory, the “I am the Hummingbird Campaign,” an international tree planting campaign that is honoring the memory of Wangari Maathai by planting trees, something she deeply loved. The goal is to plant 1 billion trees around the world in her memory.
There are so many women that can inspire us all, at any stage of our lives. However, they can be especially important to young girls. As I have written about here before, their work and personal commitment can serve as a way to inspire the next generation of young women environmentalists.