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Celebrating female climate leaders this International Women’s Day

By Lauren Armstrong on March 8, 2024

Happy International Women’s Day 2024! To mark the occasion we want to celebrate some of the women leaders in climate. Those who we work with who are making things happen, and others in the wider world we look to for inspiration.

Women planting mangrove saplings along the riverbanks of the Matla river in Sundarbans, India

Women and climate change

We know that girls and women are more likely to feel the effects and be at higher risk from climate change, especially in global majority countries. Intersecting with social and gender roles and norms, women are often in charge of care and gathering resources such as food and energy. All of which are highly interlinked with climate. Yet women are often left out of the conversation, especially at the highest levels of decision making.

Equality, equity and proper funding for women and girls is crucial to climate action. Harnessing the power of women can move us faster to where we want to be, whether that’s in business, building resilient communities or in politics. And female leaders can #InspireInclusion and in turn, more female representation.

Let’s spotlight some* inspiring female climate leaders

First off we want to give a shout out to women leaders close to home, who currently, or formally, worked with us at Climate Outreach:

Noora Firaq – Our inspiring deputy CEO who takes her experience of living in the Maldives to hammer home to governments why we have to involve all of us in the net zero transition at COP.

Rachael Orr – Our CEO who is taking us on a journey to help change the climate story, to one of progress and possibility.

Zoe Macalpine – Our Chief Income Officer, who is key to our continued success by ensuring we raise the vital funds needed to support climate action.

Camilla Born – Our former Chair of Trustees, who was Advisor to the COP26 President. She is razor sharp on the things we need to do to tackle climate change and not afraid to say what and how to anyone, from Ministers to global funders. 

Dr Amiera Sawas – Our former Chief Research and Engagement Officer and currently Head of Research and Policy at the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty Initiative. Amiera has been a long time active researcher and advocate in the world of climate across gender and public engagement and participation.

Amiera shared some insight on why gender equality is good for the climate in this TEDxLondon Climate Curious podcast episode.

We asked everyone at Climate Outreach for their thoughts on female climate leaders further afield that inspire them. Here are some of the names we got:

Christiana Figueres – As Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2010-2016, Christiana  was integral to the 2015 Paris agreement. She has published multiple books, and is an advisor to the private sector as well as a visiting lecturer at universities and colleges. She has also started and chaired multiple organisations. Christiana Figueres is a very active leader. 

Ayisha Siddiqa TIME Women of the Year 2023, Ayisha is a Pakistani-American human rights and climate justice advocate. She is the co-founder of Fossil Free University and Polluters Out and is currently Climate Advisor to UN Secretary General

For Ayisha this is a personal mission, having witnessed first-hand in Pakistan, how climate change and human rights are interlinked. She channels her work and feelings into poetry, one of the many ways to inspire and engage people with climate.

Prof. Katherine Hayhoe – Who doesn’t know Katherine Hayhoe! She is a Canadian climate scientist and committed Christian based in Texas. 

Prof Hayhoe has been named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People for her ability to talk about climate change beyond the green bubble in a way that is effective and compassionate. You just need to see the length of her bio to see all the work she has done on climate. Not just her published research, books, or work with the IPCC, but all of her climate communications activities making climate science accessible. 

Climate Outreach were lucky enough to have her at an event of ours several years ago.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson – Marine biologist, author and policy expert, Dr Johnson is a fabulous communicator who focuses on solutions. Here’s her fabulous climate action venn diagram for inspiration on how you can be part of the solution. We’re looking forward to her upcoming book ‘What if we get it right?’.

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah – Rosamund became a prominent clean air campaigner after the tragic loss of her daughter, Ella. History was made in 2020, when the High Court ruled that high levels of air pollution near their home in south east London directly linked to Ella’s death, paving the way for legislation on clean air.

Rosamund set up The Ella Roberta Foundation to prevent future deaths from air pollution, and has been a powerful voice ever since.

Dame Anita Roddick – Founder of the Body Shop and pioneer of the ethical beauty business industry, Dame Roddick  was also a human rights activist and environmental campaigner. Her radical approach to business and sustainability in the 1970s helped define responsible business practice. 

She famously once said, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been to bed with a mosquito.” 

We also wanted to give a shout out to the many others who might not be in the spotlight, but who are quietly working behind the scenes. Some of those stories have been told by the media, like the nine year old girl who cleans beaches and is writing a second book about the environment, or a resident delivering food waste to the community composting project. Many others are yet to be told, all amazing women doing what they can to make a difference.

*There are so many amazing stories of female climate leaders – let’s keep celebrating them!

By Lauren Armstrong

Lauren is part of the Communications team at Climate Outreach, working to share insights and materials to support government, organisations and individuals engage a wide range of people with climate change. Lauren has worked in communications for a number of years across energy, science and consultancy landscapes.

Lauren holds a Master’s in Climate Change from King’s College London, a highly multidisciplinary degree pulling from both physical and social sciences. Her thesis explored the role of gender in peer-group perceptions of climate scientists’ media statements, and was published in 2021. With a love of environmental sciences and psychology, working in communications to further climate action is a perfect combination of her interests and experience. She believes using evidence-based techniques to engage diverse stakeholders is key to tackling climate change.

In her spare time, Lauren enjoys trying new things (successfully or unsuccessfully), the outdoors, and reading.

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