5 Women Environmentalists Fighting for the Planet
5 Women Environmentalists Fighting for the Planet
Across the globe, women are at the forefront of driving the environmental movement forward. These remarkable individuals, often referred to as environmentalists, stand out as champions of our planet. While many might choose to rest and focus on their personal lives, these individuals have taken up the mantle of advocating for the protection of our environment. Their commitment goes beyond personal interests, reflecting a dedication to a greater cause. By preserving our environment, they have not only benefited our world but also contributed to our collective well-being. But how many of these champions can we truly name? How familiar are we with these women who are actively engaged in environmental conservation? Though their numbers might be few, their impact is immeasurable.
Here, we celebrate some of the most inspirational women who have dedicated themselves to crucial environmental causes!
Tulsi Gowda, a dedicated environmentalist hailing from Honnali Village in Karnataka, India, has played a pivotal role in nurturing over forty thousand trees and actively participating in the afforestation efforts of the Forest Department. Born into a modest background and belonging to the indigenous Halakki tribe in Karnataka, Gowda is widely recognized as the “Encyclopedia of the Forest,” owing to her extensive knowledge about various plant and herb species. From the tender age of 12, Gowda has been tending to and planting countless trees. Later, she collaborated with the forest department as a temporary volunteer, earning recognition for her relentless commitment to preserving nature. This recognition eventually led to a permanent position in the division. Even at the age of 78, Tulsi Gowda continues to nurture plants and generously shares her profound expertise with the younger generation, striving to cultivate an awareness of the importance of environmental protection. Her remarkable contributions were acknowledged with the prestigious Padma Shri award, one of India’s highest civilian honors, on January 26, 2020.
She is a renowned environmental advocate who has been deeply engaged in the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), a powerful grassroots movement opposing the construction of a massive dam on the Narmada River. The ambitious Sardar Sarovar Dam project, estimated at multi-crores, threatened to displace over 320,000 individuals. This concern for the unaware locals troubled Medha Patkar greatly and this is why she used nonviolent means, including multiple fasting episodes, to convey her message and resist the project. This unwavering commitment eventually resulted in elevated public awareness and garnered support for the cause.
Meet the remarkable Almitra Patel, an 84-year-old champion of anti-pollution advocacy and an advocate for environmental policies. During her school years, Almitra broke ground in 1959 when she became the first Indian woman engineer to graduate from MIT. However, her deep commitment to environmental causes emerged during the 1970s. She became a driving force behind various environmental issues, ranging from safeguarding the Gir Lions and preserving Ulsoor Lake to promoting effective solid waste management and constructing affordable housing. Notably, Almitra embarked on two Clean India campaigns, journeying by road in 1994 and 1995, which highlighted her unwavering dedication. In 1996, her expertise earned her a position on a Supreme Court Committee for Solid Waste Management. Her contributions were pivotal in shaping the country’s inaugural Municipal Solid Waste Management Rule, a testament to her visionary leadership and dedication to sustainable practices.
Affectionately known as the “Recycling Queen,” Isatou Ceesay is a dedicated activist from Gambia who initiated the One Plastic Bag movement. Through this initiative, Ceesay strives to raise awareness about recycling and minimizing waste generation. She launched a remarkable project that transforms discarded plastic into yarn, shaping them into bags through creative upcycling. Her innovative approach has yielded remarkable results in her village, significantly decreasing waste while also generating employment opportunities for numerous West African women, offering them a steady monthly income.
Maneka Gandhi is a notable champion of environmental and animal welfare causes. In 1994, she founded People for Animals, an organization that has grown to become India’s largest entity dedicated to safeguarding animals. Driven by the principle of ahimsa (non-violence), Gandhi felt a pressing need to create a movement in India that would combat the mistreatment of animals. Her commitment extended to hosting the television show “Heads and Tails” and penning a book of the same title. Presently, she holds the position of chair for the jury of the International Energy Globe Foundation, tasked with selecting the most noteworthy environmental innovations of the year.
Women environmentalists not only amplify the call for change but also redefine what it means to be stewards of the environment. Their impact extends beyond policies and regulations – it reaches the hearts of people around the world. As we celebrate these indomitable spirits, let their dedication serve as a reminder that safeguarding our planet is not just a duty, but an emotional bond that unites us all.