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The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

Women and the Environment

Since the early 1900s, March 8th is celebrated as International Women’s Day (IWD), a day that was started in the early 1900s celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of women. This is an important holiday because in certain countries (such as Afghanistan and Cuba) that do not celebrate Mother’s Day, IWD is held in its place. The significance of International Women’s Day is that it helps shed light on discrimination, civil awareness, and anti-sexism regarding women around the world. Each year, the UN creates a theme for International Women’s Day to celebrate a specific aspect of women around the world. The theme for 2014 is “Equality for Women is Progress for All,” highlighting the importance of social equality for women. And though this article may be a few days late, it is still an important article to write as it helps us recognize the important work that women have done in the field of environment past and present. While it can be noted that there a great number of women that have contributed an immense amount in the environmental field, this article will only highlight 4 different women. For a more comprehensive list of women in the environmental field, click here.

  1. Rachel Carson, author, marine biologist, and conservationist. Considered by many to be the “patron saint of the environmental movement,” Rachel Carson is most notably known for her book Silent Spring. Though she started off her environmental career working for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, it was really Silent Spring that is credited for advancing the environmental movement. In fact, Silent Spring helped create a reserval of the the U.S. national pesticide policy, resulting in the banning of DDT among other pesticides. Further, her conservationist book inspired an environmental grassroots movement that resulted in the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. To view the full impact of Rachel Carson on the environmental movement, the University of California has created a hour long video that analyzes her work and impact. That video can be viewed here.

  2. Vandana Shiva, campaigner, environmental activist, and author. Vandana Shiva is the founding director of the Research Foundation of Science, Technology, and Ecology. Though she is involved in an array of environmental issues spanning from forest conservation, world farming policy, and organic farming, one of her main contributions to the environmental movement has been her involvement and work opposing genetic engineering, especially within the context of GMO seeds. In fact, in India, Vandana has created the Navdanya Network, a network that supports seed keepers and organic producers. A video of Vandana Shiva’s work with Navdanya can be found here.

  3. Wangari Maathai, environmental and political activist. Wangari Maathi is known by most as Africa’s “tree woman” for being the founder of Kenya’s Green Belt movement. Wangari’s green belt movement has been responsible for planting over 10 million trees, which has helped prevent soil erosion. Her green belt program has also provided firewood for villages requiring wood for cooking. In fact, most of the trees that have been planted have been planted by poor women, providing them a source of income that they could not otherwise have. In 2004, Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental work in Africa. To learn more about Wangari’s Green Belt Movement, you can click here.

  4. Severn Cullis-Suzuki, environmental activist, speaker/television host, and author. A more local environmental hero, Severn Cullis-Suzuki is the daughter of famed Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki. Though she may gain immediate recognition through her last name, Severn as an environmentalist has contributed a lot to the environmental movement. In fact, one of her earliest contributions to the environmental movement was her speech at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, when she was just 12 years old. Her speech earned her United Nations Environment Programme’s Global 500 Roll of Honour. Since then, Severn has continued her work within the environmental field, serving on the board of directors at the David Suzuki Foundation and is an Earth Charter Commissioner. To view her Rio Summit speech titled “The Girl Silenced the World for 5 Minutes,” click here.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Google released a Google Doodle on March 8th that celebrating all things women. That google doodle can be viewed as a video below.

For further readings regarding International Women’s Day or Women Environmentalists, see below:

The top 100 Environmentalists via the Guardian

International Women’s Day via UN Women

11 Environmental Heroines via Treehugger

Female Environmentalists Celebrated during Women History Month via Huffpost Green

9 Great Quotes by Women Environmentalists via Forbes

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