8 Women Saving The Environment You Should Know About

by JR Thorpe
Brent Stirton/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you're concerned about the future of the planet, you're not alone. There are many people currently working to make sure that we don't completely wreck the earth, and there are a lot of shining lights among them who just happen to be women. From grass roots activists starting eco-campaigns across the world to young inventors producing ideas that will save energy and make the world a cleaner, less polluted place, girls and women are at the forefront of the environmental movement right now. These eight female environmentalists are some of the many names that you should know — because they're changing the world.

Many of the biggest names in the history of the modern environmental movement have been women too, from author Rachel Carson, who authored the classic eco-text Silent Spring, to Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on forestry in Kenya. The relationship between women's empowerment and environmental causes is a mutually sustainable and supportive one; eco-feminism, a theory that tracks how empowering women and saving the planet are often one and the same, is now pretty fundamental to today's ecological thinking. And all the women on this list are going to keep shaping how we save our planet.


Vadana Shiva

Shiva has been transforming Indian agriculture since the 1980s, when she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy to find more sustainable ways to farm. She's also behind a huge number of seed banks that have attempted to preserve biological diversity across the continent in the face of corporate pesticides. Her work against GM foods has been controversial, but you can't deny that she's having a serious impact.


Severn Cullis Suzuki

Severn Cullis Suzuki rocketed to world fame at the age of 12 when she spoke at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, as the head of a group of child environmentalists. She's been called "the girl who silenced the world for six minutes." The daughter of Canadian green activist David Suzuki, she's carved a career for herself as an environmental campaigner in adulthood, working with everybody from the UN to cosmetics giant Dove on helping to further environmental causes.


Sunita Narain

If you know about sustainable development, part of the credit belongs to Sunita Narain. The Indian environmentalist is the director-general of the Center for Science and Environment, and has spearheaded campaigns for everything from rainwater harvesting to saving tiger populations, but her most lasting work is on the topic of development and how it goes hand in hand with being green.


Isatou Ceesay

Ceesay's title among activists is "Queen Of Plastic Recycling," and she's earned it. In Gambia, Ceesay's been working for nearly 20 years to encourage plastic recycling and lower its polluting impact on the environment. Her group, Women's Initiative Gambia, also empowers women, who collect the plastics and recycle them into goods that can provide an income.


Ann Makosinski

Ann Makosinski has been one of the brightest lights in the new generation of environmentalists, garnering profiles in places like Teen Vogue. She made Forbes' 30 under 30 list in 2017 at the age of 17 for her invention, a flashlight that is charged by human body heat rather than requiring expensive and environmentally damaging batteries.


Purnima Barman

Purnima Barman won the equivalent of enviromentalism's Nobel Prize, the Whitley Award, in 2017. She's the force behind the grassroots women's collective known as the Hargila Army, which has helped to save the population of storks in Assam, India, and preserve their wetland habitats. It's a victory for women's rights as well as environmental goals, and Barnam recognizes they go hand in hand.


Deepika Kurup

Inventor Deepika Kurup is on her way up. The young environmentalist, currently at Harvard, invented a water purification system using solar energy in her teens that has led to a swathe of awards, a TED talk, and a very promising future. Watch this space.


Mari Copeny

Mari Copeny, aka Little Miss Flint, is a Flint, Michigan, native who has spent years advocating for a response to the water crisis in that city. The 11-year-old activist has been named a Women's March Ambassador for her work raising awareness to the crisis, which began in 2014.


These women and countless others are at the forefront of environmental justice through their work in STEM and advocacy alike. Saving the earth isn't a boy's club anymore.