From left to right: Starhawk, Julia Butterfly Hill, Majora Carter, Vandana Shiva, and Patricia Gualinga.
August 26th is Women’s Equality Day, a day to honor when American women gained the right to vote, 95 years ago. In honor of women’s equality, we present 5 fearless women leaders who are creating a more just, sustainable world. Enjoy!
Using the seed as a symbol of hope, Vandana Shiva is leading a global movement to bring food and farming out from the control of corporations and back into the hands of farmers. In addition to speaking against GMO’s she has founded theGlobal Alliance for Seed Freedom, which unites farmers from around the world to save their seeds to preserve the precious variety that is left. She calls on individuals and grassroots communities to begin shifting society’s relationship to the earth simply by growing their own food, and calls organic farmers the best peacemakerson earth. “To heal the planet and to heal humanity, just take a seed and put it in a bit of soil, and nurture it. That nurturing becomes paradigm shift and the worldview shift.”
Majora Carter first gave her inspiring talk “Greening the Ghetto” at TED in 2006. She has since gained national momentum in her approach to community development that has created miles of green spaces in her neighborhood, the South Bronx. She powerfully articulates the links between race, poverty, and environmental issues, stating that “no community should have to deal with a disproportionate amount of environmental burdens while enjoying few environmental benefits.” She launched the non-profit Sustainable South Bronx, and has gone on to become a leader and a model of hope for struggling communities. She now has several non-profits, a consulting company of her own, and is a radio host. She said, “I entered this field because I was not satisfied with the way things were happening in my community. I believed that our dreams for the beautiful future we wanted were the right dreams for anyone, and I did not fear that others might consider us fools for having the audacity to hope.”
Starhawk wrote the classic neo-pagan book The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. Although it was published in 1979, the book continues to be sold in several languages and used in Wiccan and pagan communities all over the world. The Spiral Dance launched the Reclaiming tradition of modern Wiccans, which has made earth-centered worship accessible to everybody. Her work has made ritual, feminism, and sustainability come together in a way that draws thousands into community. Starhawk continues to publish andspeak about environmental issues and has been a large part of the permaculture movement. She says she believes that “permaculture is a practical application of the belief that the earth is sacred.”
Julia Butterfly Hill is best known for living in a Redwood tree for over two years in order to impede logging in a California forest in 1997-1999. Her act brought worldwide awareness to the problems of deforestation and inspired many to take action for the earth. She has continued to teach, write, and advocate for sustainability consciousness, founded multiple organizations including What’s Your Tree and Circle of Life, as well as written the story of her activism in the bookThe Legacy of Luna. Hill has become a symbol for the impact that an individual can make in defending the earth.Watch a short interview with Hill on disposability consciousness.
Patricia Gualinga has become a spokesperson in indigenous Amazonian women’s fight to protect their land. In October 2013, she helped organize and lead a marchof over 100 indigenous women to Quito, Ecuador to protest the destruction of their communities. She spoke at the National Assembly of Ecuador on behalf of the group, calling on the government to develop alternative energy and halt the oil extraction from indigenous lands. As an indigenous woman, Gualinga and her group are leaders in the shift of consciousness toward the sacredness of the earth. She says, “We are here for life, not only resources. We are here for our lives, yours, the entire world’s lives, and those of future generations.”