Student’s Corner

According to the UN, 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. In many regions of the world, women are primary caregivers and providers of food and fuel. This puts them in a position where they are able to see firsthand the impact of climate change on their communities. Being in this position, women can play the role of changemakers. The fact that women are disproportionately impacted by climate change was highlighted in the 2015 Paris Agreement which also called for empowering women and providing them an equal platform to contribute to the fight against climate change. Here are some inspiring women in sustainability who are leading the fight against climate change.

Christiana Figueres

The 2015 Paris Agreement was made possible by the efforts of the head of the UN climate change convention, Christiana Figueres. Some of Figueres’ other notable contributions in the field of sustainability are the Global Optimism group, a platform she founded which works with organizations to make their systems more sustainable and, her book, The Future We Choose: Surviving The Climate Crisis, which focuses on changing people’s consciousness towards climate change and offers 10 actions which include building gender equality.

Greta Thunberg

Another well known female climate activist is the young Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg. Thunberg caught the attention of global media in August 2018 when she spent her school days outside the Swedish parliament calling for stronger action on climate change by holding up a sign reading “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (school strike for climate). Thunberg addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference shortly after which sparked multiple school protests around the world. 

Isatou Ceesay

Isatou Ceesay, a Gambian activist also known as the “Queen of Recycling” has been recycling plastic waste since 1998 when she initiated a recycling project called One Plastic Bag. The project educates communities on the necessity to reclaim waste and turn it into revenue. Every week, members of the Women Initiative The Gambia (WIG) produce craft wallets, bags and balls for children using the reclaimed plastic bags which they cut, knit and sew. The group has more than 2,000 members in 40 different communities throughout the country.

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva is an ecologist, physicist, and activist from India who built a new movement called Navdanya, the country’s biggest network of seed keepers and organic products for the conservation of indigenous diversity. She is also the founder and director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy. Shiva has been a key figure in putting pressure on the World Bank and has led international campaigns on food rights, as well as a global movement called Diverse Women for Diversity. Time magazine named Dr Shiva an “environmental hero” in 2003.

Written by Hanyia Ahmed, Class of 2022


Photo Courtesy by The Ecologist