7 women who defend the environment, animals and vulnerable populations

“Every individual makes a difference and we must use the gift of our lives to make this world a better place”. – Jane Goodall, ethologist and UN Messenger of Peace.


March 8th is International Women’s Day. At 3Love Inc, we want to celebrate this date by remembering the legacy of 7 women who have stood out for their defense of the environment, animals and vulnerable populations.


1. Rachel Carson

In 1962, this American biologist and conservationist published “Silent Spring”, a book that addressed the devastating consequences of pesticide use on wildlife. Her work contributed to raising awareness of the importance of the environment.


Rachel Carson’s work and testimony contributed to the creation, years after her death, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to the celebration of Earth Day, to the laws passed in many countries around the world on pesticides, insecticides and similar products, and to the development of the movement known today as environmentalism.


2. Jane Goodall

This English anthropologist, environmentalist and ethologist is considered a pioneer in the study of wild chimpanzees and is best known for her sixty-year study of the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.


She has done a great deal of work in conservation and animal welfare. Given that the chimpanzee is currently the species genetically closest to Homo sapiens, her findings revolutionized the knowledge not only of chimpanzees, but also of human beings. If you want to learn more about her life and legacy, we recommend the documentary “Jane” (2017) by Brett Morgen, available on Disney+.


3. Wangari Maathai

In 2004, this Kenyan biologist, also known as the Woman of Trees, received the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development. This prize was the first to be awarded to an African woman.


In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, which aimed to fight desertification, deforestation, the water crisis and hunger in rural areas. It began first in Kenya, where several women planted trees throughout the country. In 1986, the movement spread throughout Africa and led to the founding of the Pan-African Green Belt Network.


4. Caroline Earle White

White founded the Women’s Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (WPSPCA) in 1869, which later founded the first animal shelter in the United States, located in Philadelphia. The shelter continues to operate to this day under the name Women’s Animal Society.


After battling against scientists’ desire to use shelter animals in experiments, she also founded the American Anti-Vivisection Society in 1883, which also still exists today.


5. Vandana Shiva

This Indian-born physicist and philosopher understands the Earth as an entity that is part of the individual and calls for a transformation that will put an end to climate change, inequality, injustice, wars and hunger. She was one of the founders of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).


In 1993, in recognition of her dedication to alternative movements and “for placing women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse,” she received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize.


6. Pat Derby

Derby began her career as an animal trainer for movies and television shows, but became an animal activist after seeing the prevalence of abuse and neglect in the entertainment industry. In 1976, her first exposé of animal abuse, “The Lady and the Tiger,” won an award from the American Library Association.


In 1984 her husband Ed Stewart and she founded the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in California, which was the first sanctuary in the United States with the capacity to care for elephants. It has since expanded to thousands of acres that continue to provide a much-needed refuge for abused and abandoned wild animals.


7.  Nemonte Nenquimo

This activist and leader of the Waorani people living in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest filed a lawsuit against her country’s government. In 2019, the Waorani people succeeded in stopping oil drilling in the Ecuadorian rainforest, protecting 500,000 acres of the Amazon from exploitation, safeguarding lives and livelihoods, and setting a legal precedent for regional indigenous rights.


Nenquimo is also the co-founder of the Ceibo Alliance, which unites indigenous communities to protect rainforest territories and cultural survival, including promoting solar energy and creating economic opportunities for women. In 2020, she was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine.


By: Juan Carlos Ugarelli

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