March Voices – Women in Climate!
By Megan Birnbaum
Throughout Womens’ History Month, we asked TCI staff members to share women in the climate space that inspire them. As we close out March, we are highlighting women who are leaders in the climate space – in climate justice, policy, advocacy, science, storytelling, and more.
Young women in particular have been, and continue to emerge, as leaders in the movement to urgently address the climate crisis. Alexa Sabatini, TCI Programs Fellow, shares that “it is important to recognize the contributions of hundreds of youth leaders, especially those from Indigenous backgrounds. Xiye Bastida is a Youth Climate Activist, an organizer for Fridays For Future, and cofounder of the Re-Earth Initiative. Bastida was the 2018 recipient of the UN Spirit Award, has been featured as a speaker at various UN events, and is a leading figure in emphasizing the intersectionality of youth climate work. She’s another great example of the power youth have to make our voices heard!”
As Xiye Bastida emphasizes in her advocacy, climate work is, and must continue to be, intersectional. Megan Birnbaum, TCI Fellow, shares that “Leah Thomas inspires me! She was one of the first creators I followed on social media who focuses on intersectional environmentalism. She also co-founded Intersectional Environmentalist, which has incredible resources on the interplay among race, class, gender, religion, and more, and climate change. I am also making my way through her book, Intersectional Environmentalist.”
Environmental justice is a prevalent and pressing issue everywhere, and particularly in places such as Guam, which is experiencing first-hand effects of increasingly strong tropical storms and flooding due to climate change. Javan Santos, TCI’s Policy Manager, expresses that “Monaeka De Oro is a huge inspiration for me! She was able to build her organization, Micronesian Climate Change Alliance from the grassroots up, starting out as a public school teacher back in Guam. Now her organization is doing work with national and international organizations, attended COP27, and she’s doing lots of work in talking about circular economies and environmental justice back in Guam. It’s also cool to note that she helped us with our Climate Justice & Equity Learning Lab, coming from a Pacific Islander lens!”
The ecological science of climate change, and conveying that science to the public, go hand in hand when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. Kristina Madarang Stahl, TCI’s Director of Development, shared that she admires Rae Wynn-Grant: “[Wynn-Grant] is a large predator ecologist who inspires me by making conservation science and field work (particularly with bears) accessible & popular. My personal, professional, and academic approach to climate is through ecology, so I admire Dr. Wynn-Grant’s talent and passion for illuminating and communicating complex (and sometimes unexpected) interactions between species that have impacts on the well-being of humans and our climate!”
This collective well-being can (and must) be approached from a policy lens as well. Kate Keefer, TCI’s Operations Manager, spotlights Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand until January 2023. “She is a staunch climate advocate and a very talented politician. She pushed for aggressive net zero laws, supported a ton of indigenous-led climate projects, and juggled having a baby while in office. She’s progressive, positive, and a great role model for how to manage a healthy work-life balance!”
Women leaders in the climate space are role models for each of us. Julia Anders, TCI’s Development Associate, highlighted Julia Butterfly Hill. “Among so many other things, she saved a portion of California redwood forest by living in one of the trees for over two years, preventing it from being cut down. I was in elementary school in northern California when she was living in the tree, and I remember the local excitement surrounding the event. It really inspired me that a girl (like me!) named Julia (like me!) not only loved the forest and climbing trees (like me!), but also was brave and taking action to save what she loved. It made me feel like maybe someday I could be brave and make a difference in the world, even if I was alone and felt scared.”
Our uncertain climate future can certainly spark fear, and this fear can often halt action because it can be paralyzing. Many women in the climate space are actively working to move us from a place of fear and doom, and into a place of action and hope. Ariel Maldonado, TCI’s Youth Engagement Manager, is inspired by Aliana Wood. “She continuously works hard to fight climate doom amongst youth. She is a science communicator based out of Appalachia who breaks down climate news and happenings to the public so that they can see what efforts around the world are happening. As people are learning about the causes and effects of the climate crisis, conversations around climate change and mental health are becoming more popular and necessary! Her refusal to allow the climate narrative ro remain negative is so important to the overall movement.”
This month, and in every month moving forward, we encourage you to research, learn from, and amplify the voices and work of women in the climate space, who are leading the fight for a livable and just climate future.
Rae Wynn-Grant https://www.raewynngrant.com/
Xiye Bastida https://www.xiyebeara.com/
Leah Thomas https://greengirlproductions.com/
Monaeka de Oro https://www.youth4pacific.org/moneka-de-oro
Julia Butterfly Hill https://www.juliabutterflyhill.com/
Aliana Wood https://www.thegarbagequeen.com/