JULY & AUGUST The entire planet is heating up right now. Global warming is playing havoc with weather patterns, which in turn affects all plant and animal life. Our emotions are fired up and disagreements are reaching a boiling point, as is evidenced by the ever-increasing and escalating geo-religious-political-economic conflicts around the globe. Time out! […]
JULY & AUGUST
The entire planet is heating up right now. Global warming is playing havoc with weather patterns, which in turn affects all plant and animal life. Our emotions are fired up and disagreements are reaching a boiling point, as is evidenced by the ever-increasing and escalating geo-religious-political-economic conflicts around the globe.
Now is the time to turn our attention to positive solutions and focus our thoughts and actions creating peace. Peace of Mind. Peace of Heart. Peace on Earth. There is a chance for peace.
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 Queens have affirmed my faith.
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
Sharon Beder, Australia
Civil engineer and leader in environmental and water supply issues
Professor Beder’s work focuses on the social, political and philosophical aspects of engineering and environmental politics, ecologically sustainable development, environmental principles and policies, and socio-political dimensions of environmental economics. She has been Chairperson of the Environmental Engineering Branch of the Institution of Engineers, President of the Society for Social Responsibility in Engineering, and a director of the Earth Foundation Australia. She is now the Environmental Education Coordinator at the University of Sydney.
Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, India (1960 and 1956) Grassroots environmental activists
*See The Queen’s Chronicles October 2007
Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, two illiterate village women took it upon themselves to seek justice for the survivors of the poisonous gas leak from a storage tank at a Union Carbide pesticide factory into the heart of Bhopal city, which killed 8,000 people instantly. More than 20,000 deaths in the years since have been attributed to the disaster. Since 1984, the two women have tirelessly continued their efforts to exact justice from the giant chemical companies responsible. They have inspired support from all over the world.
Erin Brockovich 1960 America
American legal clerk and environmental activist
Erin Brockovich was instrumental in constructing a successful case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California in 1993, despite the lack of a formal law school education, The case alleged contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium in the southern California town of Hinkley. Brockovich went on to participate in other anti-pollution lawsuits. After experiencing problems with mold contamination in her own home in the Conejo Valley, Brockovich became a prominent activist and educator in this area as well.
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.
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 courageously spoke 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.
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.
Amrita Devi, India
Founder of the Shipko Movement in defense against deforestation
*See The Queen’s Chronicles April 2008
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 fell 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.
Lois Marie Gibbs, 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.
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.
Fatima Jibrell, Somalia (1950 -)
Environmental organizer and educator
Fatima Jibrell founded Horn of Relief to train young people to organize awareness campaigns about the irreversible damage of unrestricted charcoal production, which has deforested Somalia and led to widespread famine. As a charcoal alternative, she has spearheaded the development of solar cooking stoves. She teaches women and youth to build small rock dams to slow the runoff during the brief rainy season, which nourish vegetation, crucial in slowing the growth of arid lands.
Winona LaDuke, United States-Anishinaabeg (1959-)
Activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer
Winona LaDuke is an ardent representative of indigenous perspectives. At
the age of seventeen she spoke at the UN on behalf of Native Americans. She is a founding member of Women of All Red Nations and director of the Land Recovery Project on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. An inspiring speaker, she was the 1996 and 2000 vice-presidential candidate of the Green Party, the first Native American to run for national office. The author of All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life, she is currently the Executive Director of Honor the Earth, an organization she co-founded with Indigo Girls in 1993.
Wangari Maathai Kenya (1940-)
Environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner
*See The Queen’s Chronicles April 2008
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.
Olya Melen, Ukraine (1980)
Olya Melen is a firebrand attorney who used legal channels to halt construction of a massive canal that would have cut through the heart of the Danube Delta, one of the world’s most valuable wetlands, a World Heritage Site, and biosphere reserve. The organization Environment-People-Law (EPL) filed lawsuits to prevent construction and Melen tried the case. She was denounced by the notoriously corrupt and lawless pre-Orange Revolution government, but the judge ruled that the canal development flouted environmental laws and could adversely affect the Danube Delta’s biodiversity.
Satomi Oba, Japan (1951 – 2005)
Satomi Oba was long-time campaigner against nuclear proliferation with particular concerns for human rights and justice. After the Chernobyl accident in 1986, she fought against nuclear power plants. She was the Director of Plutonium Action Hiroshima, and an active participant in the Rainbow Serpent Network (of women throughout Asia and the Pacific working to end nuclear weapons and power). She also worked for the No Nukes Asia Forum, the Abolition 2000 Global Council, and the Global Network for Peace in Spacer.
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
*See The Queen’s Chronicles October 2007
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.
Vandana Shiva, India (1952)
Physicist, eco-feminist, and author
Vandana Shiva is a champion for women’s rights and the global food supply. She fights for intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, and bioethics through her intellectual contributions and her activist campaigns. She got her start as an environmentalist by participating in the nonviolent Chipko movement during the 1970s. The movement, whose main participants were women, adopted the tactic of hugging trees to prevent their felling. She is one of the leaders of the International Forum on Globalization and a spokesperson for the global solidarity movement.
Marina Silva, Brazil (1958)
Defender of Brazilian rainforests and human rights
Marina Silva, a former rubber tapper was frequently at odds with development interests, including powerful farmers and ranchers who are seeking to turn the Amazon into Brazil’s agricultural breadbasket. In 1994 she was the first rubber tapper ever elected to Brazil’s federal senate. There she built support for environmental protection of the reserves as well as for social justice and sustainable development in the Amazon region. Deforestation decreased by 59% from 2004 to 2007, during her implementation of an integrated government policy. In May 2008 she was forced to resign due to her oppositional views on hydroelectric dams, biofuels, and genetically modified crops.
Celsa Valdovinos, Mexico
Rural environmental activist
Celsa Valdovinos began her environmentalist career by organizing youths and women for clean-up efforts to remove the garbage that their neighbors dumped in the fields, and she continued her work from there. Because of Valdovinos’s efforts, some rural communities in the impoverished state of Guerrero have recovered forests, obtained water services and developed gardens, but these advances were paid for with military harassment, forced displacement, threats and the imprisonment of her husband, who, like her, is a local environmental leader. Today Amnesty International fears for her safety.
We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.