The world celebrates International Women's Day on 8 March – a day to mark the political, social, cultural and economic achievements of women.
We're marking the day by highlighting the accomplishments of some of the world's most formidable female environmental activists. From defending rights to introducing vital laws, their successes are truly inspirational for women and men everywhere.
1. Disha Ravi
My motivation to join climate activism came from seeing my grandparents, who are farmers, struggle with the effects of the climate crisis.
The young activist is the founder of the Indian branch of global youth climate movement, Fridays for Future network. In February 2021 she was arrested and charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy for protesting against new agricultural laws which farmers say are "anti-farmers laws" and will leave them at the mercy of big corporations. Disha Ravi has since been released on bail.
2. Berta Cáceres (d 2016)
I want to live. There are many things I still want to do in this world but I have never once considered giving up fighting for our territory, for a life with dignity, because our fight is legitimate.
Berta Cáceres was an indigenous, environmental and human rights activist who was murdered in her home on 3 March 2016. As an activist she was aware of the risks she faced and said publicly that she knew she was top of the army's list of wanted human rights fighters. But, she added, it would never put her off fighting for "our territory".
You might not know: Berta Cáceres rallied her fellow indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.
3. Bina Agarwal
I believe we want a world that is pro-poor, pro-development, and pro-environment.
Indian economist, a leading thinker and advocate of women’s roles in land management and conservation since the 1980s, she has influenced governments, international agencies and others worldwide.
You might not know: In 2004-5, Agarwal led a successful campaign in India to secure equal rights for Hindu men and women to own and inherit property, including land, in the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act.
4. Gro Harlem Brundtland
It is simple, really. Human health and the health of ecosystems are inseparable.
Gro Harlem Brundtland
First female Prime Minister of Norway and chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Brundtland's definition of sustainable development, "meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" was adopted by the UN, and the 1987 Brundtland Report led to international action on sustainable development.
You might not know: Brundtland was one of the main targets of the massacre on Utøya island in 2011, but had left the island shortly before Anders Behring Breivik arrived.
5. Wangari Maathai (d 2011)
It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.
Kenyan activist and politician, renowned for using community-based tree planting to reduce poverty and conserve the environment, and for being the founder of the Green Belt Movement.
You might not know: When Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, she was the first African woman and the first environmentalist to do so. The Green Belt Movement has now planted more than 51 million trees across Kenya.
6. Erin Brockovich
When women get together, they’re a pretty tough force to push back.
American activist made famous by a 2000 film about her work on the legal case against Pacific Gas and Electric Company for water contamination. She continues to bring legal cases for environmental pollution and public health.
You might not know: Brockovich has also worked on cases related to women’s reproductive and pharmaceutical care.
7. Rachel Carson (d 1964)
Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
American scientist and conservationist whose 1962 book Silent Spring on artificial pesticides is credited with sparking the environment movement. Her powerful style of writing attracted widespread media attention, inspiring people to take action across the world.
You might not know: Before writing Silent Spring Carson worked as a marine biologist and wrote bestselling books, articles and radio scripts about marine life.
8. Arundhati Roy
Another world is not only possible, she's on the way and, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe.
Arundhati Roy is a novelist, writer and political activist on human rights and environmental issues. One of the spokespeople of the alter-globalisation movement she continues to be a target of the Indian government for her activities.
You might not know: Arundhati's novel The God of Small Things won the Booker Prize in 1997. She donated all the prize money as well as royalties from her books on the project to the campaign against the Narmada Dam.
9. Octavia Hill (d 1912)
The need of quiet, the need of air, the need of exercise, the sight of sky and of things growing seem human needs, common to all.
English social reformer who co-founded the National Trust and saved iconic London green spaces such as Brockwell Park to improve the health and wellbeing of the poor.
You might not know: Hill was the first to use the term "green belt for London".
10. Vandana Shiva
We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a human future at all. Vandana Shiva
Indian physicist, ecofeminist and founder of Seed Freedom. She has campaigned internationally on the environmental and human costs of chemically-treated and genetically engineered food. She's supported anti-GMO movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.
You might not know: Time magazine called Dr Shiva an environmental hero in 2003, and in 2010 Forbes magazine identified her as one of the world’s top 7 most powerful women.
11. Petra Kelly (d 1992)
If there is a future, it will be Green.
Co-founder of the German Green Party and leading international activist for peace and non-violence, ecology, feminism and human rights.
You might not know: Petra Kelly spent her teenage years in the USA where she was inspired by the civil rights movement.
12. The anti-fracking Nanas
I want clean water and clean air for my children... Fighting fracking has brought this community together. "Nana" Cheryl Atkinson
A group of women from the north of England – including Cheryl Atkinson, centre front, and Tina Louise Rothery, right. They first came together in 2014 to protect their community and the environment from fracking – hydraulic fracturing of underground shale rock to extract gas/oil.
You might not know: The Nanas fronted several rallies and campaigns, and even went to court. They successfully helped stop fracking operations in the UK.
13. Simona Getova
Macedonian activist and member of Young Friends of the Earth Europe. Her group, SOS Valandovo, has worked tirelessly for years to raise awareness of the potential environmental and community damage threatened by the Kazandol copper mine in this unspoilt agricultural region.
You might not know: Getova quit her job to move back to her home town in south-east Macedonia to help build the resistance to the Kazandol mine.
Based on an article by Jenny Hawley, first published in March 2016.