"We need to promote development that does not destroy our environment."
Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai
Activist, Eco Feminist, 1940-present
Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya (Africa) in 1940. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. Wangari Maathai obtained a degree in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas (1964). She subsequently earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh (1966). She pursued doctoral studies in Germany and the University of Nairobi, obtaining a Ph.D. (1971) from the University of Nairobi where she also taught veterinary anatomy. She became chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 and 1977 respectively. In both cases, she was the first woman to attain those positions in the region. Wangari Maathai was active in the National Council of Women of Kenya in 1976-87 and was its chairman in 1981-87. It was while she served in the National Council of Women that she introduced the idea of planting trees with the people in 1976 and continued to develop it into a broad-based, grassroots organization whose main focus is the planting of trees with women groups in order to conserve the environment and improve their quality of life. However, through the Green Belt Movement she has assisted women in planting more than 20 million trees on their farms and on schools and church compounds.
In 1986, the Movement established a Pan African Green Belt Network and has exposed over 40 individuals from other African countries to the approach. Some of these individuals have established similar tree planting initiatives in their own countries or they use some of the Green Belt Movement methods to improve their efforts. So far some countries have successfully launched such initiatives in Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, etc).
1. From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 2004, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 2005. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2004/maathai-bio.html
"To be effective, a broad-based transformative movement for social and environmental justice must be inclusive in both its analysis and its composition: that is, it must have an analysis of the ways the “isms on domination” (i.e. racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism…) are mutually reinforcing and conceptually as well as structurally interconnected. "
Eco-Feminist, Activist, 1960-Present
Greta Gaard is an educator, writer, scholar and activist working at the intersections of literature, feminism, social and environmental justice.As an ecofeminist, Gaard worked within the U.S. Green movement for a decade, co-founding the Minnesota Green Party in 1993. Developments within the national movement, along with the contradictions between democracy and electoral politics, are described in her 1998 volume, Ecological Politics: Ecofeminists and the Greens. For the past decade, Gaard's activism has addressed issues of economic globalization, water democracy, maternal profiling, and interspecies justice. She is currently a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and a Community Faculty in Women's Studies at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN.
1. Greta Gaard. Retrieved From http://gretagaard.efoliomn2.com/
"If a country develops an economic system that is based on how to pay for the war, and if the amounts of fixed capital investment that are apparent are tied up in armaments, and if that country is a major exporter of arms, and its industrial fabric is dependent on them, then it would be in that country's interests to ensure that it always had a market."
Dr Marilyn Waring is currently a farmer, a national and international consultant, and a senior lecturer in social policy and social work at the Albany Campus in New Zealand. At the age of 22, Marilyn Waring was elected MP in the New Zealand Parliament, a position she kept between 1975 and 1984. During that period, she served as Chair of the Public Expenditures Committee, Senior Government Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and on the Disarmament and Arms Control Committee.
Between 1991 and 1994, Dr Waring served as Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and the Politics of Human Rights with the Department of Politics at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. In 1990, she was awarded the University of Waikato Research Council Grant to continue work on "female human rights." She has worked as a consultant for organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Yukon Territorial Government, the Ford Foundation, and the Ontario Provincial Government.
Marilyn Waring's publications include If Women Counted, published in 1988 by Macmillan, and Three Masquerades: Essays on Equality, Work and Human Rights, published in 1996 by Auckland University Press/Bridget Williams Books, Auckland.
1. International Development Research Centre Retrieved From http://archive.idrc.ca/books/reports/1997/25-02e.html
"You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you"
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a physicist, ecofeminist, philosopher, activist, and author of many books. In the 1970s she participated in the Chipko movement. The movement, whose name comes from the Hindi word for 'embrace', was a group of villagers – mainly women – in the Uttarakhand region of India who opposed commercial logging. They became known for their tactic of hugging trees to prevent them being cut down. This gave rise to the term 'tree hugger' for environmentalists.
In 1982, she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. This institute is dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, in close partnership with local communities and social movements. The movement Navdanya focuses on biodiversity conservation and farmers' rights. 'Navdanya' means nine crops that represent India's collective source of food security. The main aim of the Navdanya biodiversity conservation programme is to support local farmers, rescue and conserve crops and plants that are being pushed to extinction and make them available through direct marketing. Navdanya is actively involved in the rejuvenation of indigenous knowledge and culture. It has created awareness on the hazards of genetic engineering, defended people's knowledge from biopiracy and food rights in the face of globalization. It has its own seed bank and organic farm spread over 20 acres in Uttranchal, northern India.
Through campaigns, such as the "Neem Campaign" and "Basmati Campaign" Dr. Shiva has contributed intellectually and as an activist to the area of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and Biodiversity. Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering are another dimension of Dr. Shiva's campaigning internationally. She has helped movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria with their campaigns against genetic engineering.
1. United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved From http://www.unep.org/women_env/w_details.asp?w_id=107
"Service is the rent you pay for living, and that service is what sets you apart."
Surgeon General, Born 1944 - present
(born Aug. 23, 1944, Fajardo, Puerto Rico) physician and public official, the first woman and the first Hispanic to serve as surgeon general of the United States (1990–93).
Novello joined the staff of the National Institutes of Health in 1978, rising to the deputy directorship of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 1986. In 1982 and 1983 she also served as a congressional fellow on the staff of the Labor and Human Resources Committee, advising the legislators on bills dealing with such health issues as organ transplants and cigarette warning labels. In 1990 President George Bush appointed her surgeon general of the United States. As head of the Public Health Service, she promoted an antismoking campaign and improved AIDS education and worked for better health care for minorities, women, and children. She left the post of surgeon general in 1993 and became a representative for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), where she continued to address women's and children's health issues, working to eliminate nutritional problems such as iodine deficiency and to prevent substance abuse and smoking.
In 1996 Novello was a visiting professor of health policy and management and the special director for community health policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, where she guided the development of education and research programs designed to better the health of communities lacking adequate health care resources. In 1999 she became commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, the largest public health agency in the country. Following her appointment, she focused the department's efforts on improving programs such as Child Health Plus and Medicaid and on ensuring affordable health care for the people of New York. She served as state commissioner of health until 2007. Novello received numerous awards throughout her career, including the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal (2002).
1. Antonia C Novello. (2010). Biography.com. Retrieved 02:32, Sep 10 2010 from http://www.biography.com/articles/Antonia-C-Novello-9425582
"I knew it was a big responsibility, and it was brave of them to bring in a freak like me. I really wanted to do it right. I wanted to encourage the teens to be whatever helps them stay alive in this mad, mad world. I wanted to encourage them not to be mean, and not let the bullies get away with being bullies.”
March 15 1948 - Present
KATE BORNSTEIN is an author, playwright and performance artist whose latest book is "Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives To Suicide For Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws."
Other published works include the books "Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us"; "My Gender Workbook"; and the cyber-romance-action novel, "Nearly Roadkill," with co-author Caitlin Sullivan. Kate's plays and performance pieces include Strangers in Paradox, Hidden: A Gender, The Opposite Sex Is Neither, Virtually Yours, y2kate: gender virus 2000.
Kate's books are taught in over 120 colleges and universities around the world; and ze has performed hir work live on college campuses, and in theaters and performance spaces across the USA, as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Austria. She is currently touring colleges, youth conferences and high schools, speaking and leading workshops on the subjects of sex, gender, and alternatives to teen suicide.
Kate was born outside of Fargo, North Dakota in a log cabin ze helped hir parents build. Hir father was a Lutheran minister, and hir mother was Miss Betty Crocker, 1939. Kate has lived in the queer ghettos of Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. Ze currently lives with hir partner--sex pioneer, writer and performance artist Barbara Carrellas--in New York City, along with their pug, three cats, and turtle.
1. Kate Bornstein. (2010). katebornstein.typepad.com. Retrieved Oct 19 2010 from http://katebornstein.typepad.com/about.html
“I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement. “
Writer, activist, educator. Born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. Angela Davis is best known as a radical African American educator and activist for civil rights and other social issues. She knew about racial prejudice from her experiences with discrimination growing up in Alabama. As a teenager, Davis organized interracial study groups, which were broken up by the police. She also knew several of the young African American girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing of 1963.
Angela Davis later moved north and went to Brandeis University in Massachusetts where she studied philosophy with Herbert Marcuse. As a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, in the late 1960s, she joined several groups, including the Black Panthers. But she spent most of her time working with the Che-Lumumba Club, which was all-black branch of the Communist Party.
Outside of academia, Angela Davis had become a strong supporter of three prison inmates of Soledad Prison known as the Soledad brothers (they were not related). These three men—John W. Cluchette, Fleeta Drumgo, and George Lester Jackson—were accused of killing a prison guard after several African American inmates had been killed in a fight by another guard. Some thought these prisoners were being used as scapegoats because of the political work within the prison.
During Jackson's trial in August 1970, an escape attempt was made and several people in the courtroom were killed. Angela Davis was brought up on several charges, including murder, for her alleged part in the event. There were two main pieces of evidence used at trial: the guns used were registered to her, and she was reportedly in love with Jackson. After spending roughly 18 months in jail, Davis was acquitted in June 1972.
After spending time traveling and lecturing, Angela Davis returned to teaching. Today, she is a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she teaches courses on the history of consciousness. Davis is the author of several books, including Women, Race, and Class (1980) and Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003).
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- Angela Davis. (2010). Biography.com. Retrieved 11:03, Oct 22 2010 from http://www.biography.com/articles/Angela-Davis-9267589
“As a human rights issue, the effort to end violence against women becomes a government's obligation, not just a good idea.”
Charlotte Ann Bunch
(1944 - )
A pioneering strategist and organizer, Charlotte Bunch is one of the foremost advocates of international attention to women's issues, and the inclusion of gender and sexual orientation on global human rights agenda.
A 1966 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Duke University, Bunch became active on the national scene as a writer, lesbian activist and lecturer, particularly in movements for women's liberation and women's rights. She created and edited Quest: A Feminist Journal (1974), one of the first and the leading journals to promote analysis and policy making to improve women's status in society.
Expanding her activities into the international arena, Bunch built an international network of women, united by common concerns, and prepared by education and training for effective action. Through her speeches and organizing at international conferences, she served as a critical catalyst for action on women's issues. For example, her speech to Amnesty International in 1989 marked the beginning of that organization's efforts to address gender-specific human rights issues. Her leadership was crucial to the adoption by the 1993 U.N. Conference on Human Rights, in Vienna, of strong support for women, and at the 1995 U.N. Conference on Human Rights, in Beijing, for supporting woman's place in human rights advocacy.
In 1989, Bunch founded The Center for Women's Global Leadership at Douglass College, Rutgers University, where she serves as Director and Professor of Urban Studies. Through the Center, she continues her role as leader of national and international networking, advocacy and training, to advance women's well-being around the world.
1. Charlotte Ann Bunch. (2010). National Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved from: http://www.greatwomen.org/women.php?action=viewone&id=30
"The most notable fact our culture imprints on women is the sense of our limits. The most important thing one woman can do for another is to illuminate and expand her sense of actual possibilities."
1929 - Present
Born in Baltimore, Adrienne Rich describes her mother and grandmother as "frustrated artists," whose talents were denied expression by culture and circumstance. Perhaps their example, along with her father's encouragement, sparked her desire to become a writer at a time when women were still trying to prove themselves in a male-dominated arena. After graduating from Radcliffe in 1951, Rich was recognized for her poetry in the same year by W. H. Auden, who selected her first book, A Change of World, for the coveted Yale Younger Poets series. Rich's early poetry was influenced primarily by male writers, including Frost, Thomas, Donne, Auden, Stevens, and Yeats. For many young women, these men were the poets studied in high school and university classes, talked about in magazines and journals, and invited to speak at universities. Young women were exposed to relatively little poetry written by other women, and as such were taught implicitly that to write well meant to write as well as a male poet. For writers like Rich, Plath, and Sexton the struggle to find female role models and express female experience was beginning with their own work. Of course, there were examples of women poets mentoring one another, most notably the mentorship of Elizabeth Bishop by Marianne Moore, but this proved to be the exception rather than the rule. By the end of the 1950s and early 1960s, however, Rich's poetry had changed markedly as she began exploring women's issues and moving away from formal poetry toward a free verse that she saw as less patriarchal and more in tune with her true voice.
In the late 1960s, Rich, along with her husband, became active in radical politics, especially protests against the Vietnam War. In addition, she taught minority students in urban New York City, an experience that began her lifelong commitment to education, a subject that would return in her essays. Not surprisingly, her poetry reflected this intense interest in politics. This later verse features fragmented language, raw images, and looser form. At this time, Rich also began identifying herself and her work with the growing feminist movement; she also identified as a lesbian. This lesbian consciousness led to the development of poems such as "Transcendental Etude" and "The Floating Poem" that dealt explicitly with lesbian love and sex. In the 1970s, Rich began exploring feminism through essay writing. Her most famous collection of prose, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, combines personal accounts, research, and theory to reveal her thoughts on feminism. In the 1980s, Rich wrote a number of dialogue poems, the best-known of which is her "Twenty-One Love Poems." This series modernizes the Elizabethan sonnet sequences written by men to idealized women by directing the poems to an unnamed female lover. Other poems, penned to women like Willa Cather, Ethel Rosenberg, and the poet's grandmothers, explore further aspects of Rich's identity, including her experience as a Jewish woman.
Rich's work is known for its political radicalism and candid exploration of motherhood, feminism, lesbianism, and Jewish identity. Her role as poet, essayist, and critic has earned her an important place in contemporary feminism.
1. Adrienne Rich. (2010) American Passages. Retrieved from: http://www.learner.org/amerpass/unit15/authors-8.html