Celebrating climate leaders on International Women's Day
An ode to the amazing women advocating for eco, zero waste, and sustainable living, along with pushing for individual action and larger scale changes. Their climate change and feminist related work pushes us to hold ourselves and others accountable for our impact upon the world.
by Paige Taylor
"Raise your words, not your voice" - Rumi
"Raise Your Words." That is the motto of For Your World, a platform I founded for discussing climate change. It might seem simple, but for women* (*women identifying and people affected by misogony), it's not always easy finding your voice in the face of traditional gender stereotypes.
As a young girl, I was “ladylike”. Traditional gender roles were the norm in my community and I conformed to their expectations of being quiet and polite. I was initially recruited into my primary school’s eco-club aged ten for seeming especially ‘caring’ - another girlhood stereotype.
It wasn’t until I began my Masters in 2019 that I started to question these tropes. In a unit on leadership, we discussed male and female leaders and the stereotypical traits of each, looking at examples of strong female leaders and how they are discussed in the media. It was this discussion of gender and leadership that lit a fire within me. I wanted to be that kind of leader myself: a strong, feminine, caring, and outspoken female.
It was as if a switch had flicked within: I started to raise my voice for the issues I cared about. Why should I stay quiet for fear of how I would be received? I launched my own campaign For Your World to discuss climate change. I wanted to take a stand on social media and shout about the things I felt weren't getting enough attention - and channeled this energy into creating content for FYW. With each post I hope to inspire at least one person to make a difference and forge a caring, outspoken community.
For me gender and the environment have always been inextricable. I’ve long associated the act of caring for the planet with women. The people who taught me about the environment were always female until I started University. I quickly noticed how environmentally friendly products are marketed towards women with make-up and cleaning products, sanitary items and fashion at the forefront of ethical consumerism. I saw the world discussed as Mother Earth and Mother Nature and charity adverts on TV showing crises in developing countries focussed on mothers and daughters within these communities.
Simultaneously I saw men like David Attenborough at the forefront of climate crisis discussions and typically male politicians debating environmental legislation. Only after digging below the surface of the media did I find incredible female figures putting themselves at the frontline of the fight against climate change.
During International Women’s Day we see great women of our past and present discussed and celebrated in the media. As a young female leader, I often believe I have to raise my voice to be heard. However, today I feel inspired by Rumi to raise my words to showcase the strong female leaders that use their platforms for daily acts of climate leadership. Here is my list of 10 women changemakers paving the way for climate revolution.
Alexandria is the U.S. representative for New York's 14th congressional district. She introduced the ‘Green New Deal' which is a congressional resolution that laid out a superb plan for tackling climate change in 2019. Alexandria is the youngest woman ever to serve in congress, which I find extremely inspiring as a young woman; age doesn’t have to be a barrier. It’s wonderful to see someone so passionate about the environment in a powerful position.
Jamie is the author of Youth To Power, a phenomenal book that I enjoyed very much, proving no matter your age you can make a change. She is also the founder of Zero Hour, an intersectional movement of youth activists fighting for a liveable planet for all. As a gay, Jewish activist she has a great platform to demonstrate how climate change is an intersectional issue.
Pattie is a drag queen bringing education to the outdoors. The alter ego of Wynn Wiley, Pattie’s outfits are created from old climbing gear, waste picked up from hikes and inspiration from the outdoors. Pattie & Wynn work hard to save ‘mother natch’ (as Pattie calls her) and make the outdoors an inclusive space for everyone. I was inspired by Wynn to begin picking up litter during my hikes.
Kiona has 4 degrees, a doctorate and is the founder of the 'howtonottravellikeabasicbitch' podcast. Kiona posts an ass pic every 1000 followers to remind you that you can have 4 degrees, post pictures of your body and still deserve respect – we love to see it!
Kiona embeds Black and Asian history in all of her work whilst she endeavours to educate on the effect of tourism. As someone who loves to travel, her feed has offered me invaluable information on how to travel responsibly. At current her Instagram is brimming with content explaining the effect of Covid-19 on communities who rely on tourism.
Jacinda is the current president of New Zealand, serving since 2017. She was celebrated for continuing to work whilst pregnant, showing that strong political leadership can be comparable with pregnancy and motherhood. At first, I was amazed to see her leading whilst carrying a growing being inside her, but it has only strengthened the link in my mind between women and successful leadership. Jacinda always has the environment at the heart of her policies and initiatives, as when New Zealand was placed into a ‘Climate emergency’ in December 2020 and she pledged a carbon neutral government by 2025.
Laura offers every day sustainable tips on her Instagram. She has done an amazing speech on kicking our plastic habits with Ted X which caught my eye because of her passionate and down to earth approach. You may have seen her recently, popping up in an interview with imprint discussing Oatly and Blackstone’s Investment!
Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile
Kat Kai is a trans performance artist and human rights advocate from Botswana. Their journey as the first openly transgender public individual from the country is truly inspiring. They create beautiful, self-loving content which can be found under #kolkesexclsuive and importantly acknowledges the need for an intersectional, cross-generational approach in the fight for climate change.
Greta is an individual I am certain you have heard of! This 18 year old Swedish activist has taken the world by storm with her passionate, straight-speaking challenges to world leaders. She famously sailed to speak at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, has been nominated for two consecutive Nobel Peace Prices (2019 & 2020) and has inspired global youth strikes. My first event with For Your World was a digital climate strike, as Greta showed me the power of youth coming together online. As an individual with Asperger’s syndrome she has challenged stereotypes on what those with learning difficulties can achieve.
Caroline leads an extraordinary life as a pro-skier, mountaineer and public speaker for climate action. I adore her platform for the scenic shots of faraway mountains, but more importantly, she promotes climate activism and sustainable swaps whilst endeavouring to make skiing an inclusive space. As a climber, I know that sport communities taking responsibility plays a large role in healing the planet. The conception of the sporting industry is athletes eating absurd amounts of meat and flying around the world on short trips. It is encouraging to see outdoor sports taking charge for the environment they compete in.
Karen is an indigenous climate activist, runner, hiker and climber. She is proudly of Oaxaqueña-Indígena-ÑuuSavii heritage and speaks profusely of her native heritage. She is also the founder of 'Get Out Stay Out', an Indigenous youth-led non-profit reconnecting to the outdoors through culturally equitable outdoor programming. I have spent my summers working on outdoor programmes and I am continually inspired by the impact that spending time outdoors has on young people. Karen’s work is vital in inspiring our next generation of leaders.
Hopefully this listicle has shown you some new faces and initiatives that are being performed across the world. These women are just a sprinkling of the strong voices currently fighting for our planet. Each individual has their own unique perspective on climate issues, and brings their own nuanced approach to how we can work towards a better world.
My advice for you this International Women’s Day is to curate a feed which not only supports the environment but the strong female presence within this community. Search for women in your local area or within your online communities - then raise their platforms and let their voices be heard. Women are disproportionately affected by climate change, so climate justice is also a fight for our sisterhood. It is a fight we need to win for the sake of every human being on this planet.
Paige Taylor is a Bristol based creative. Having graduated from the University of Bristol with BA Theatre and Performance Studies, she is now wrapping up her MSc in Events Management. A self-proclaimed feminist, climate activist and humanitarian; she is on a mission to make the world that little bit better. Paige enjoys climbing and hiking whilst she waits for her big break into the third sector. Read her previous article here, and follow her instagram @foryourworld_