International Women’s Day, celebrated around the world since 1911, to honor the work that women do. This year’s theme is a pledge for parity, with the core belief that empowering women will lead to greater sustainability on the planet.
1. Berta Cáceres, a Honduran environmentalist and human rights worker, 2015 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, who rallied the indigenous Lenca people to oust the builders of the Agua Zarca Dam, a project which would have cut off water for the Lenca and made it impossible for them to continue living sustainably on the land. She was assassinated last week in her home.
2. Harriet Tubman, whose story amazes and inspires me, challenges and informs me. If all you know about her is that she rescued people out of slavery, you owe it to yourself to find out more about her, about her many roles during the war, and how she continued to work for human rights and dignity until she died.
3. Wangari Mathaai, the Kenyan college professor and founder of the Green Belt Movement, first woman in East Africa with a doctorate degree, and 2004 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who saved Karura Forest, who planted trees, who worked for the rights of women. (Karura Forest is again threatened with development, and the Green Belt Movement is working to save it yet again.)
4. Jane Goodall, who, though she is in her early 80s, continues to travel around the world to speak on behalf of sustainability, earth care, and animal rights.
5. All you women in my life who have mentored me and modeled for me how to live sustainably, how to regulate and care for my own energy, how to stand up and speak out, how to do the work. Friends and family, women older than me, my peers, and young women, too–my nieces and my students–who show me every day what it means to make a hopeful difference in the world.
May we walk with wisdom, with courage, and with strength. May we make the world a better place.