International Women’s Day: Celebrating Women Making History in Environmental & Political Movements

international womens day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to highlight just some of the incredible women who have made waves in environmental and political movements. 

Women have played crucial roles throughout moments in our history, and here are just a few of those achievements.


#1: Rosalie Edge

Rosalie Edge

During the Great Depression, Rosalie Edge was considered the most militant conservationist.

She established the Emergency Conservation Committee in 1929, to expose the conservation establishment’s ineffectiveness, and strongly advocate for species preservation. 

#2: Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist who was the first woman to serve as Chief Scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

She was a crucial resource in the Exxon Valdez, Mega Borg, and Deepwater Horizon disasters.

#3: Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

She spent her life promoting intersectional environmentalism, advocating that environmental action is “more than planting trees, it’s planting ideas.”

#4: Lois Gibbs

Lois Gibbs

Lois Gibbs is an environmental activist who has been at the forefront of the environmental movement in the United States for several decades.

She bought wide public attention to the environmental crisis in Love Canal – a neighbourhood that was found to be sitting on top of 21,000 tons of buried chemical waste.

#5: Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva is the founder of Navdanya, a movement for biodiversity conservation and farmers’ rights.

Shiva fights for changes in the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food: “I don’t want to live in a world where five giant companies control our health and our food.”

#6: Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres is an internationally recognized leader on global climate change.

She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and successfully steered world leaders to reach the Paris Agreement in 2015. 

#7: Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is an expert in the adaptation and mitigation of indigenous peoples to climate change.

She is an advocate for the greater inclusion of indigenous people and their knowledge and traditions in the global movement to fight the effects of climate change.

#8: Jane Addams

Jane Addams

Jane Addams was one of the most prominent reformers of the early 20th century Progressive Era and would probably have been considered an environmental justice activist if the term had existed at the time.

She was a pioneer in uncovering environmental health concerns and advocating for environmental equality for all people, no matter their income or ethnicity. 

#9: Mollie Beattie

Mollie Beattie

Mollie Beattie was the first woman to be appointed director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where she was instrumental in protecting landmark environmental laws, such as the Endangered Species and Clean Water Acts.

Mollie passed away after less than three years in her position, but left a powerful legacy, including the reintroduction of the grey wolf to Yellowstone and the creation of 15 new wildlife refuges.

#10: Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson worked to preserve the world for future generations.

During the 1950s Rachel Carson conducted research into the effects of pesticides on the food chain and published her most influential work, Silent Spring, which condemned the indiscriminate use of pesticides.

The book led to a presidential commission that largely endorsed her findings, and helped shape a growing environmental consciousness, which led to the banning of DDT.


#1: Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams was an early advocate of women’s rights, famously known for saying “remember the ladies”.

She was also a vital confidant and advisor to her husband – President John Adams.

#2: Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright

In 1997, Madeleine Albright was the highest-ranking woman ever in the US government as the first female Secretary of State.

As Secretary of State, she reinforced America’s alliances, advocated for democracy and human rights, and promoted American trade, business, labor, and environmental standards abroad. 

#3: Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune was the daughter of former slaves who went on to become one of the most important black educators, civil and women’s rights leaders and government officials of the twentieth century.

A champion of racial and gender equality, Bethune founded many organizations and led voter registration drives after women gained the vote in 1920.

#4: Carol Moseley Braun

Carol Moseley Braun was the first woman of color to be elected to the U.S. Senate and the first female U.S. Senator from Illinois.

During her time in the Senate, she worked to advance women’s rights, civil rights, gun control and more, including the historic preservation of Underground Railroad sites.

#5: Hattie Wyatt Caraway

Hattie Wyatt Caraway

After the death of her husband, Hattie Wyatt Caraway filled his U.S. Senate seat and then went on to win it herself in 1931 – becoming the first woman to be elected to the upper chamber of Congress.

Her defiance of the Arkansas establishment in insisting that she was more than a temporary stand-in for her husband enabled her to set a valuable precedent for women in politics.

#6: Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress, the first woman to run for the Democratic nomination for President and the first African American candidate in a major party’s nomination for President.

During her time in Congress, she led expansion of food and nutrition programs for the poor and rose to party leadership.

#7: Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

In 2016, she was the first woman nominated by a major party for President of the United States.

She has served as a U.S. Senator from New York for 8 years and Secretary of State for 4 years. From 1993 to 2001, she served as First Lady and was the first in that position to have her office in the West Wing.

#8: Dianne Feinstein

Dianne Feinstein

Dianne Feinstein served in the Senate for over 25 years, and during that time she’s helped create AMBER alerts and the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

She was also the first woman to chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

#9: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1993 by Bill Clinton and was well known for her work on gender equality and women’s rights.

She was the first woman to serve on two major law reviews. 

#10: Diane J. Humetewa

Diane J. Humetewa

As a member of the Hopi tribe, Diane J. Humetewa is the first Native American woman to be a judge at a federal level.

She has dedicated her career to making a difference on Native American legal issues.

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