12 Women Leading The Fight For Sustainability


March 7, 2022

By Mia Krejci

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we felt there was no better way to acknowledge the wonderful world of women than to reflect on 12 women who are leading the fight for sustainability through their dedication to environmental activism and confronting climate change.

Our founder Frances Lucraft embarked on creating Grace & Green to help tackle the urgent and growing climate crisis. As she believes that it’s the biggest and most pressing issue we face. We’d like to share some of the women who have inspired our team over the years, not only on a personal level but also in helping to shape what Grace & Green has become today.

These women have been fearless in their fight to help address the environmental crisis. Their stories are remarkable in how they have led their lives through personal sacrifice, actions, and mission. I hope they spark a light of hope and inspiration for you too and highlight that there is an opportunity for change and a brighter future.

Jane Goodall

“We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place, or not to bother.”

Jane Goodall (*1934)
Primatologist, anthropologist & environmental advocate

Fascinated by wildlife, Goodall went to Africa where she made ground-breaking discoveries of wild chimpanzee behaviour. Her work of nearly 60 years is recognized as one of the greatest achievements of 20th-century science. Jane is a vegetarian and advocates the diet for ethical, environmental, and health reasons. As an ambassador for nature and animal welfare issues, she founded the global wildlife and environment conservation organization
Jane Goodall Institute and was named UN Messenger of Peace.

Photo Source: Itcilo.org

“The generation that destroys the environment is not the generation that pays the price. That is the problem.”

Wangari Maathai (1940–2011)
Social, environmental, and political activist

For her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace, Maathai became the 1st African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004). Maathai founded the Nairobi-based Green Belt Movement, which is an NGO that focuses on planting trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. She was chairperson of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK), Honorary Councillor of the World Future Council, and member of the Parliament of Kenya, serving as assistant minister for environment and natural resources.

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“The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”

Greta Thunberg (*2003)
Swedish Youth Activist

Greta is getting global attention for challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change. She initiated the School Strike for Climate (2018), a movement known as #FridaysForFuture, calling out politicians on doing far too little for climate protection. To avoid CO2 emissions, Greta leads by example and attends international events such as UN Climate Action Summit or COP25 by train or electric car, not by plane. She has been named the youngest Time Person of the Year and received 3 nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sunita Narain

“Everybody has the right to development, which means everybody has the right to clean energy.”

Sunita Narain (*1961)

Sunita is an environmentalist, political activist and important proponent of the Green concept of sustainable development. She’s director of both the Society for Environmental Communications and of the India-based research institute Centre for Science and Environment through which she exposed the high level of pesticides in American soft drink brands such as Coke and Pepsi. Narain has won multiple awards on global environmental issues like rainwater harvesting or reducing air pollution and talks about including more voices from the Global South in the climate-change dialogue.

Sustainability Grace Green Kotchakorn Voraakhom

“The awareness of climate change means we, in every profession we are involved in, are increasingly obligated (…) to put whatever we are working on as part of the solution.”

Kotchakorn Voraakhom (*1981)
Urban landscape architect

Voraakhom is working on building green public spaces to combat climate change. She founded the Porous City Network, a social enterprise that addresses the impacts of climate change, particularly flooding, in Southeast Asia. Her landscape designs include the Siam Green Sky rooftop garden, Centenary Park at Chulalongkorn, and Asia’s largest urban rooftop garden TURF, which combines sustainable food production, renewable energy, organic waste water management and public space. She also advocates for more green spaces in cities and is a 2018 TED Fellow.

Sustainability Grace Green Vandana Shiva 1

“In nature’s economy the currency is not money, it is life.”

Vandana Shiva (*1952)
Urban landscape architect

Because of her anti-GMO activism, she is often called “Gandhi of grain”. Shiva’s work is dedicated to developing sustainable farming methods, protecting biodiversity and indigenous seeds. She founded Navdanya, Third World Network, and the Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO). Shiva plays a major role in the global ecofeminist movement, encouraging more women to fight ecological destruction. Her book Ecofeminism (1993), co-written with Maria Mies, links Western & Southern feminism to “environmental, technological and feminist issues, all incorporated under the term ecofeminism”.

Sustainability Grace Green Rachel Carson

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
Marine biologist, ecologist, conservationist, and writer

Carson is a key figure in the birth of environmentalism in the 20th-century. Her book The Sea Around Us (1951) became an award-winning bestseller, followed by her famous work Silent Spring (1962), which warned of the harmful effects of chemicals, pesticides, & insecticides (DDT) on humans, animals & the environment. It revolutionized the global environmental movement, selling over 2 million copies. Her books are among the most influential environmental writings ever published and are celebrated for their unique combination of science and lyrical prose style.

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“I think when you abuse the environment, you abuse yourself.”

Isatou Ceesay (*1972)
Activist and Social Entrepreneur

Known in The Gambia as the “Queen of Plastic”, Isatou Ceesay is a wonderful grassroots activist who, despite leaving school in The Gambia at a young age, seldom lets anything stop her from learning or taking action. Her recycling project, which began in 1998 amidst much resistance and taunting, is still thriving today and she has inspired and led a community to radically change their behaviours and create a positive impact on the planet. Women’s Initiative Gambia now works with communities across the west African state to address not only the environmental impact of unregulated waste disposal, particularly plastic, but also the empowerment of women in a male dominated society.

Sustainability Grace Green Rhiana Gunn Wright

“Equity doesn’t happen on accident. You create it.”

Rhiana Gunn-Wright (*1988)
US political advisor

Gunn-Wright is Climate Policy Director at the Roosevelt Institute, signatory on the Women Lead Climate campaign and Policy Lead of the Green New Deal. For her, climate policy is closely linked to social justice; e.g. African Americans are more likely to live near an oil and gas facility, or in the same district as a refinery than wealthy white Americans. She is currently working on the Green New Deal which includes a plan for 100% renewable energy, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable jobs and quality healthcare

Sustainability Grace And Green Winona Laduke

“In the time of the sacred sites and the crashing of ecosystems and worlds, it may be worth not making a commodity out of all that is revered.”

Winona LaDuke (*1959)
Author, environmentalist, economist, and indigenous women’s rights activist

LaDuke’s career includes founding organizations like Indigenous Women’s Network to publicize forced sterilization of Native American women, White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) to buy back & reforest the land on the reservation in Minnesota and Honor the Earth, an indigenous environmental organization that played an active role in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests (#NoDAPL). In 2016, she became the 1st Green Party member to receive an electoral vote for US Vice President.

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“Listen to environmental podcasts, learn from leading figures who are making their stamp in the climate change sphere, keep up with the news, and learn about the impacts on the environment.”

Juliet Davenport (*1968)
Founder and CEO of Good Energy, UK

As the founder of a leading renewable energy company, Davenport is focused on delivering the needs of society in a purposeful way, putting the planet ahead of profit. We love her passion for creating a business that not only does good but challenges the conventions of a male dominated industry. She is the innovator we are in need of and a powerful woman figure who has had to carve her own path in her mission to power a cleaner, greener world.

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“I’ve always been a bit ambitious, but I do think the Green Party is the real opposition.”

Caroline Lucas (*1960)
Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion

If anyone can help us fight the climate crisis and bring about the political accountability we need, it’s Caroline Lucas. Elected as the first Green Party Member of Parliament in 2010, she is a beacon of hope for us in the UK as her politics are all about sustainability, social justice and peace. She is outspoken, passionate and fearless in what she stands for – the perfect example of an empowered woman using her platform to drive meaningful change.