The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Eco Sheros

posted by Donna Henes

These Queenly Eco Sheros are amazing women, all. They  inspire me. I hope they inspire you, too:

Wangari Maathai, Kenya (1940-)
Environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner

Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya In 1977, in response to the serious problems caused by deforestation: soil runoff, water pollution, difficulty finding firewood, lack of animal nutrition, and poverty. The Green Belt program has planted more than 30 million trees to prevent soil erosion and to provide firewood for cooking fires. In recognition of her monumental efforts, she served both in Parliament and in prison. In November 2006, she spearheaded the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign.

Dai Qing, China (1941-)
Journalist and environmental activist

Dai Qing reported on a conference in 1989 about the impending Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. Her subsequent research led to the publication of the book Yangtze! Yangtze! In which she denounced the dam as “the most environmentally and socially destructive project in the world.” Dai claimed that there was a potential risk for the Yangtze River and the Yellow River to dry up, leading to sandstorms in Inner Mongolia and environmental influence on Korea, Japan and even the west coast of the United States. After Tiananmen Square, the book was banned and she was jailed.

Dame Anita Roddick, England (1943-2007)
Entrepeneur and environmental visionary

Anita Roddick was the founder of the now world famous Body Shop boutique in 1976 in Brighton, England, long before fair trade and Earth-friendly businesses were fashionable. The Body Shop opposed product testing on animals and tried to encourage development by purchasing materials from small communities in the Third World. It also invested in a wind farm in Wales as part of its campaign to support renewable energy, and it set up its own human rights award. Roddick’s last struggles were against globalization and sweatshop economies.

Lois Marie Gbbs, United States (1951-)
Grassroots environmental activist and community leader

Lois Gibbs became involved in environmental causes when she learned that her neighborhood, Love Canal, in Niagara Falls, New York was built on a toxic waste dump. With no prior experience in community activism, Gibbs organized the Love Canal Homeowners Association, which she led in a battle against the local, state, and federal governments. After years of struggle, 833 families were eventually evacuated, and cleanup of Love Canal began. Her efforts also led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Canada-Inuit (1953-)
Climate change activist
 

Sheila Watt-Cloutier has worked on a range of social and environmental issues affecting Inuit, most recently focused on persistent organic pollutants and global climate change. She is the President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, which represents internationally the interests of Inuit in Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. In 2005, she launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change, alleging that unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases from the United States have violated Inuit cultural and environmental human rights as guaranteed by the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.

Well, I don’t only think that the biosphere is in trouble, I know it is. I just have to look around in the environment, in which I live. In my own part of the part of the world, I keep telling people, let us not cut trees irresponsibly. Let us not destroy, especially the forested mountains. Because if you destroy the forests on these mountains, the rivers will stop flowing and the rains will become irregular and the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation. Now the problem is, people don’t make those linkages.
- Wangari Maathai

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The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

Eco Shero Foremothers

posted by Donna Henes

I have always believed that if it is at all possible to save our planet Earth from the destruction that we have wreaked upon Her, that if it isn’t already too late, then it is we — women of a certain age — who are the ones who can and will do it. These dedicated Queens have affirmed my faith:

Amrita Devi, India (18th Century)
Founder of the Shipko Movement in defense against deforestation
 
 
Amrita Devi organized a large group of peasants from 84 villages in Rajasthan in an effort to protect the forests from being felled on the orders of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. In one day in 1730, 363 protestors were killed by the axes that were meant to cut down the trees. This event was the inspiration of the modern Shipko Movement, a grass roots association of women peasants who act to prevent the cutting of trees and to reclaim their traditional forest rights. The movement has now spread throughout India and has had far reaching impact on the global green movement.

Rosalie Edge, United States, (1877-1962)
Conservationist and feminist

Rosalie Edge took her experience in the women’s rights movement, her love of birds, her outrage over the behavior of the leaders of the Audubon Association, and with intelligence, persistence and wit became the role model for a generation of women no longer content to sit, breathless, by a campfire or in a city auditorium, while a man lectured on the beauties of nature and the need to preserve them. She also understood that predators have a vital role in the natural order and deserved respect and protection. Her legacy includes both the prominence of women in the environmental movement and a wildlife refuge in Pennsylvania named Hawk Mountain.

Rachael Carson, United States, (1907-1964)
Biologist, ecologist and nature writer

Rachael Carson is widely regarded to be the mother of the modern environmental movement. Her groundbreaking book, Silent Spring challenged the practices of agriculture, scientists and the government, bringing to light the environmental hazards of common post-WWII pesticides. She was attacked by the chemical industry and some in government as an alarmist, but she courageously continued to speak out to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world, subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem.

Jane Goodall, England and Tanzania, (1934-)
Primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist and conservationist

Jane Goodall’s holistic methods of fieldwork transformed not only how chimpanzees are understood, but influenced scientific thinking regarding the evolution of humans. In addition to being an animal rights activist, her involvement in tropical forests has led her to be actively involved in a number of environmental issues, and to found the Roots & Shoots an international children’s environmental education program and the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway (1939-)
Head of the U.N. commission to define sustainable development

Gro Harlem Brundtland is a politician, diplomat, physician, and  international leader in sustainable development and public health. Dr. Brundtland spearheaded the movement, now worldwide, to abolish cigarette smoking through education and persuasion. She was a two term Prime Minister of Norway, and has served as the Director General of the World Health Organization. She is now Special Envoy on Climate Change for the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet. 
- Brooke Medicine Eagle

And that hope, my dear sister Queens is us!
 
***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

Queens Everywhere

posted by Donna Henes

One third of all women in America are over the age of fifty, and one woman reaches that milestone every seven and a half seconds. Climacteric women, more than fifty million strong, now comprise the single largest population segment of American society. Silent no more, we are reading and talking and conspiring among ourselves.

It is my hope that as more and more mature women rise to reign in the fullest potential of our supremacy, we will harness our purpose, passion and power and direct it toward creating a more balanced and peaceful world. This is the legacy of Her majesty.

The Queen
By Janine Canan

Not only in England–
Let us have queens everywhere!

Queen of Africa
Queen of Afghanistan
Queen of America
Queen of Arabia
Queen of the Argentine
Queen of China
Queen of Columbia
Queen of Egypt
Queen of Germany
Queen of Guatemala
Queen of Iraq
Queen of Israel
Queen of Italy
Queen of Japan
Queen of Mongolia
Queen of Palestine
Quuen of Russia
Queen of Spain
Queen of Syria

Queen of the World
Queen of the Universe
Queen of each and every Self–

To You I bow down.

- Janine Canan

***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

Haiti’s Fallen Queens

posted by Donna Henes

The 2010 earthquake claimed the lives of three of Haiti’s most prominent sheroes of women’s rights. Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan, founders of three of the country’s most important advocacy organizations working on behalf of women and girls, were confirmed dead.

One returned to her Haitian roots, to give voice to women, honor their stories and shape their futures. Another urged women to pack a courtroom in Haiti, where she succeeded in getting a guilty verdict against a man who battered his wife. A third joined the others and helped change the law to make rape, long a political weapon in Haiti, a punishable crime.

Myriam Merlet
Author and Activist

Merlet fled Haiti in the 1970s. She studied in Canada, steeping herself in economics, women’s issues, feminist theory and political sociology. In the mid-1980s, she returned to her homeland. “I felt the need to find out who I was and where my soul was. I chose to be a Haitian woman,” she said.

She was a founder of Enfofamn, an organization that raises awareness about women through the media, collects women’s stories and works to honor their names. Among her efforts, she set out to get streets named after Haitian women who came before her.

Myriam Merlet was until recently the chief of staff of Haiti’s Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women, established in 1995, and still served as a top adviser.

“She was very bold,” said Eve Ensler, who at Merlet’s insistence brought her play “The Vagina Monologues” to Haiti and helped establish safe houses for women in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien. “She had an incredible vision of what was possible for Haitian women, and she lifted their spirits.”

She was 53.

Magalie Marcelin
Lawyer and Actress

Magalie Marcelin, who appeared in films and on stage, established Kay Fanm, a women’s rights organization that deals with domestic violence, offers services and shelter to women and makes micro loans available to women working in markets.

A shocking study of Haitian women and girls conducted by Kay Fanm right before the disaster showed that an estimated that an astounding 72 percent had been raped, and at least 40 percent of the women surveyed were victims of domestic violence.

Two years ago, Marcelin, was prosecuting a man for wife beating. Hoping to deflect the political clout of the defendant in court, she asked for women to come out in droves and pack the courtroom. The women won. The man on trial was convicted of battery.

In an interview last year with the Haitian Times, Marcelin spoke of the image of a drum that adorned Kay Fanm’s public awareness stickers. “It’s very symbolic in the Haitian cultural imagination. The sound of the drum is the sound of freedom, it’s the sound of slaves breaking with slavery.”

She was believed to be in her mid-50s.

Anne Marie Coriolan
Political Organizer

Anne Marie Coriolan served with Merlet, as a top adviser to the women’s rights ministry. Coriolan was the founder of Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity with Haitian Women, or SOFA), an advocacy and services organization.

Coriolan helped bring rape — an instrument of terror and war — to the forefront of Haitian courts. Before 2005, rapes in Haiti were treated as nothing more than crimes of passion. That changed because of the collective efforts of these women activists, and the others who they inspired.

“She loved her country. She never stopped believing in Haiti. She said that when you have a dream you have to fight for it,” her daughter Wani said. “She wanted women to have equal rights. She wanted women to hold their heads high.”

She was 53.

With the three leaders gone, there is concern about the future of Haiti’s women and girls. Even with all that’s been achieved, the struggle for equality and against violence remains enormous. “The chaos that’s taken over the devastated nation heightens those worries,” warns Taina Bien-Aimé, the executive director of Equality Now, a human rights organization dedicated to women. “And humanitarian emergencies have been linked to increased violence and exploitation in the past,” she said.

Let us honor the lives and contributions of these dynamic Queens by continuing to struggle for the rights and safety of women and girls everywhere.

***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

         

 

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