In honour of International Women's Day (March 8), we have put together our list of women climate leaders with an emphasis on presenting a few thought leaders who you may not find on other lists of the sort. Not only is this a list of incredible women, but this is a special occasion for the Be Loud team as it will be our first ever podcast release.
My co-founder and I have a special affection for this day as starting this podcast and, what we hope will turn into a movement, has not been an easy endeavour. One of the obstacles we have encountered has been a patronising reaction implying that we neither have the experience, nor the credibility to do something like this. Shockingly, the greatest nay-sayers have also been women.
We wanted to use International Women's Day as an opportunity to not only share some amazing women who have inspired us, but also to remind people out there that activism isn't homogenous, and that kindness goes a very long way.
On this women's day in 2021, we are celebrating our community - both men and women who have been supportive and kind, but also we are celebrating the launch of our podcast as an incredible personal achievement for both Rux and myself.
Women are incredibly important in the fight against climate change, as there is a disproportional impact on women. When we look at the impact and specifically in terms of disaster planning, the impact will primarily be on populations in situations of poverty and you guessed it: the majority of the world's poor are also women. When you start to pile on the demographic information about skills and employment, and how rural communities under threat will need to migrate into new roles, this burden is again shouldered primarily by women.
And despite this, the number of women in policy-making or influencing positions is also disproportionately low. Yet at a local level through empowerment and activism, there is a huge opportunity to include women in developing communities in grassroots movements which, combined with an effort to get more senior women into international and national policy positions could provide a decision making framework which accounts for this impact.
All in all, you understand what we are getting at. We need to empower women in the fight against climate change, without exception.
And whilst we admire and acknowledge the climate pioneers that are commonly recognised, Mary Robinson, Greta Thunberg, AOC, Jane Fonda (amongst others), here are some that you may not have heard of.
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native. She is founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice, and founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities. You’ll find her at the nexus of science, policy, and communication, building community around climate solutions. (Source: Ayana Johnson)
In addition to her professional work in ocean conservation, Dr Johnson's work also includes: Founder of Urban Ocean Lab, think tank for the future of coastal cities; Co-founder/Co-director of The All We Can Save Project, an initiative to support feminist climate leaders; and Co-creator and co-host of How to Save a Planet a Gimlet/Spotify podcast on climate solutions.
You may recognise Nikki Reed's name from Hollywood films such as the Twilight saga, however the reason she is on this list is because of her work with Dell Technologies creating jewellery from upcycled gold from old computer motherboards. Yes, you read that correctly. This is part of a larger initiative by Dell on promoting a legacy of good.
Called The Circular Collection, and distributed by Reed’s eco-conscious boutique Bayou With Love, includes gold rings, earrings, and cufflinks. It was originally showcased at CES in 2018 and aims to promote the ideology of creating a circular economy. (Source: Venture Beat)
Like so many activists, Julie Angus is a scientist, adventurer, boat designer, and entrepreneur. As noted in our podcast, those with a front row seat to environmental devastation are often the ones who are pushing the boundaries of innovation to save the environments they are witness to.
Julie Angus cofounded Open Ocean Robotics to help protect our oceans and offer solutions to some of our greatest maritime challenges. Julie is the co-inventor of disruptive technology to better harness solar and wind energy by autonomous vessels, creating Open Ocean Robotics’ Force12 Xplorer and Solar Xplorer, which is the world’s only commercial solar-powered offshore autonomous boat and fastest energy-independent unmanned boat. Julie is the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean from mainland to mainland and a recipient of the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award. Explore Magazine listed her as one of North America’s leading adventurers and in 2016 Canadian Geographic named her one of Canada’s Greatest Women Explorers. Prior to forming Open Ocean Robotics, Julie cofounded Angus Rowboats, a company providing robotically-cut kits for a variety of human-powered craft and sailboats, and worked in venture capital, technology transfer and business development. (Source: Open Ocean Robotics)
Laura Franceschini works in Global Sustainability Strategy and Operations at Google. She is particularly interested in reducing the environmental impacts of global consumer brands and technology products by integrating sustainability principles into corporate strategies. As a consultant for various organisations, she has led Fortune 500 companies and other clients to capture business opportunities by addressing energy, waste, water, and supply chain challenges. (Source: Yale Center for Business and the Environment)
Laura is also the reporting lead for Google's sustainability strategy and operations, a highly influential company that, despite the fact that we all love to hate, can have one of the greatest impacts on the world - by changing their operations, there is a huge swath of companies and individuals that will follow by default. In addition to her very impressive resume and a clear passion for transforming business operations, her influence within one of the largest digital ecosystems in the world (Google/Alphabet) makes her a huge presence in global climate leadership.
Mary Heglar and Amy Westervelt
Mary Heglar and Amy Westervelt are co-hosts of the climate focused podcast, the Real Hot Take, which is an honest, humane, and humorous conversation about the biggest story of our time – the climate crisis – and all the ways the media is talking and not talking about it. (Source: Substack)
The Real Hot Take presents the concept of intersectionality into climate reporting, and similarly to what we believe here at Be Loud, the climate crisis is about a new relationship with the world and not only about the climate science.
Speaking in an interview, "[t]he climate crisis intersects with and exacerbates every justice issue: race, poverty, gender, you name it. You don’t get a crisis like runaway climate change – where a small handful of people were empowered to make decisions that condemn the entire human race to catastrophe – without serious power imbalance. But we still rarely hear it discussed that way, so we wanted to curate a conversation both about the various aspects of the climate crisis and about how it’s being discussed in the media." (Source: Substack)
You can hear more about why we chose these six incredible women to be our top choices for this special episode of the Be Loud: Climate by listening to the episode available on YouTube, Spotify and Apple Podcasts, as well as by clicking on "Watch Now" on this website.