Hannah Gross is one of 10,000 female wild land firefighters in the United States. In this historically male-dominated field women often face implicit bias, sexism, and gatekeepers who didn’t make them welcome. Various initiatives have been created to increase the number of women in fire, foster their leadership capabilities, and improve their operational confidence in the field. Thanks to some of these initiatives women are present in every facet of the wildland fire world. Photo Credit: Alex Potter
During the World Skull Forum, an intergenerational and intercultural panel of women climate activists hosted a webinar on the lessons we can learn during the COVID-19 crisis in order to pave the way for a green recovery and a just transition. Notwithstanding its drastic negative impacts, the current pandemic has also proven the capability of the global community for changing behaviour quickly and profoundly in the face of a serious crisis. Therefore, the panelists urged for the climate crisis to be taken just as seriously, underlining the importance of science and traditional knowledge, human behaviour and collaboration. Photo Credit: Skoll Foundation & Rockefeller Foundation
Isabel Wisum became the first woman to be elected Vice President of Achuar Nation of Ecuador (NAE) in 2016, and the first woman to have a leadership position in that community. She has supported the maternal and neonatal health of other women in the Amazon rainforest, empowering generations of women as rainforest guardians. A trained community health promoter, her leadership inspires other women of NAE to participate in the local decision-making process, helping to build resilience for her culture, land and people. Photo Credits: Pachamama
Victoria Law is a journalist who spent 6 years with the Zapatista movement in Southern Mexico and published Compañeras: Zapatista Women’s Stories. She gives an overview of the Zapatistas, the influence women have in the movement and the impact the movement has had on their lives. The Zapatistas began organizing in the 80s and declared war on the state of Mexico in 1994, on the exact day the NATO the free trade agreement began. Since then the movement is renowned for the peaceful protests, indigenous organization, and their autonomy. Women have played a key role in the Zapatista communities accomplishing a drastic reduction of violence against women, the prohibition of alcohol (connected to abuse), the freedom to participate and lead in politics, and autonomy over their lives. Victoria sheds light to many things that can be learned from the organization of the Zapatistas and the key role that women continue to play in their liberation and in the liberation of their people. Photo Credit: Mr. Thelkan
In this article, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) executive director Osprey Orielle Lake reflects on the broad and interwoven relationship between women and climate change. Citing activists such as Phyllis Young and Dr. Vandana Shiva, Lake connects the experience of each activist to global climate justice trends and movements. Lake also discusses the climate crisis as it is linked to systems of oppression and patterns of abuse against women and nature. While they are among the most vulnerable populations affected by climate chaos, women also offer the most hope for the future. Photo Credit: Emily Arasim/WECAN
Emily Satterwhite detained the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for 14 hours by chaining herself to a backhoe. She is an active part of Appalachians Against Pipelines, defending the mountains and forests in West Virginia. In this interview, she discusses the role of lobbyists, the influence of corporate interest, and the struggle to keep fracking pipelines outside of the state. She refutes many myths regarding pipelines, emphasizing that Dominion Energy and it’s investors are profiting, but there is no benefit for West Virginians.Photo Credit: Thunderdomepolitics.com
At the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco California, Niria Alicia stood up and sang out in protest to Governor Jerry Brown’s refusal to take action against oil and gas companies. In this piece, Niria describes why she joined eight other young people in singing the Women’s Warrior Song as an act of resistance at the summit. Niria sites her own identity as an Indigenous woman, and daughter of a farmworker to poignantly explain the consequences of fossil fuel divestment. Photo credit: Niria Alicia
In 2008, Ecuador re-thought its democracy and included “Rights of Nature” in its constitution. Following in these footsteps, Shannon Biggs (United States), Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca Nation, United States), Pella Thiel (Sweden), Pablo Solón (Bolivia) and Henny Freitas (Brazil) have also started the process to incorporate the Rights of Nature into national legal frameworks. Mari Margil, associate director of the U.S. Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, helped draft state-wide legislation, the first of its kind in the world. Pablo Solon, an environmental and social activist as well as former ambassador of the United Nations, acknowledges that nature helps humans be more humane. Similarly, Patricia Gualinga, former director of Sarayaku Kichwa Native People’s head of international relations, views nature as an actor in democracy rather as an outside subject. Photo Credit: Hugo Pavon/Universidad Andina
The murder of Earth Defenders is on the rise, especially throughout Latin America, according to Global Watch. Nevertheless, Colombian women like Jackeline Romero Epiayu, Briceida Lemos Rivera, Isabel Zuleta, and Nini Johana Cárdenas Rueda continuously fight for the land and their livelihoods. Through community organization and outreach, these women are bravely resisting the expansion of mining industries and infrastructure projects that have devastating impacts on the environment and local communities. But with such force comes danger as these four women are facing harassment from Colombian authorities, anonymous threats to their lives and loved ones, and have even escaped attempted kidnappings and murders. Photo Credit: Ynske Boersman
Women across Mozambique and Tanzania are organizing their communities to improve local livelihood through sustainability and the protection of natural resources. This inspirational blog by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) explores the stories of various community leaders building long lasting projects. Like the story of Alima Chereira, who formed an agricultural association that teaches women climate-resilient farming practices. Or entrepreneur Fatima Apacur, who helped her community form a savings association that uses the ancient practice of group savings and pooling wealth to help community members invest in the future. Photo Credit: WWF/ James Morgan
Neris Uriana, the first female chieftain of Wayuu tribe in La Guajira, was elected in 2015. She had tremendous support from her husband Jorge Uriana who thinks the future is female. Jorge was the previous community leader and decided women should participate in decision making and worked to dismantle machismo culture. After becoming chieftain, Neris has introduced sustainable agriculture methods to her tribe and collaborated with other communities to improve irrigation, crop cycles, and land use. Neris has successfully created many women leaders in her tribe, such as Pushaina, who is growing the crops with minimum water supply. Photo Credit: Lucy Sherriff/PRI
Emily Satterwhite, an Appalachian Studies Professor at Virginia Tech, blocked the Mountain Valley Pipeline crossing through Brush Mountains for 14 hours. She used a sleeping dragon to lock herself 20 feet off the ground to the excavator but was later lowered down by law enforcement. With this technique, her arms were inserted at each end of an elbow-shaped piece of pipe, and her hands chained together inside the pipe, making it difficult for her to be removed from the equipment. She chose to protest the pipeline because it threatens the nearby environment. Photo Credit: Heather Rousseu/The Roanake Times
Members of the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand (SPFT) -- a grassroots community of landless farmers -- are being confronted with harassment from military officials in the form of unlawful arrests, human rights abuses, and even murder in an attempt to displace the residing populations from the land for commercial use. Despite authoritarian rule, gender-based discrimination, and impending issues of safety, Thai women land and environment defenders are risking their lives in order to ensure the protection of human rights for not only themselves but for their small-scale farming communities as well. In May of 2018, women from the SPFT gathered in Bangkok demanding support from the United Nations offices and government agencies. By challenging unjust land rights and management policies and commanding reparations for human rights abuses, these women have pushed authorities to agree upon land titles for the community and to cease the wrongful prosecutions against villagers. Photo credit: Use Default
Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna hosted the Climate Leaders’ Summit, gathering fearless women from all over the world, including representatives from the public, private, academic, and civil society sectors working to create solutions to the climate crisis. The summit’s main focus was on women’s leadership, working to ensure female participation in climate policymaking, environmental science, and engineering, and technological innovation. Photo Credit: UN Environment
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations special rapporteur for the rights of indigenous people has fled her home in the Philippines due being falsely accused as a terrorist by Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte. Going home is now unsafe for Ms. Tauli-Corpuz due to her powerful stance on land rights for indigenous communities. Recently, she was included on a list of suspected terrorists by the Filipino Government. While the Filipino Government has insisted this designation is due to ties to banned leftist groups, her criticism of the military forced displacement of indigenous people in Mindanao, Philippines is likely the cause. Along with her vocal criticism of displacement, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz has also focused much of her energy on climate change and the inclusion of indigenous people in climate justice - a stance that has jolted the international forefront. Photo Credit: Annie Ling for The New York Times
Faith Gemmill sees the effects of climate chaos firsthand, and has the solutions: she is executive director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), a grassroots Indigenous environmental network fighting to protect Indigenous land and culture in Alaska. Gemmill, Pit River/Wintu and Neets’aiiGwish’in Athabascan, lives a land-based, subsistence lifestyle in an Alaskan village next to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 110 miles above the Arctic circle. Her community’s livelihood depends on the Porcupine Caribou Herd -- but oil companies directly target this sacred birthplace and nursery, and rising temperatures have already caused many climate refugees to relocate. REDOIL provides knowledge and resources to build resilience in this vulnerable region. Because Gemmill’s community lives in intimate interdependence with the “biological heart” of the Arctic Refuge, they have been fighting for human rights for decades, with no sign of stopping. Photo Credit: MrsGreensWorld
Francia Márquez is among the female earth defenders recognized by the Goldman Environmental Prize for their longstanding role in standing up to social and environmental injustices despite constant threats to their lives from powerful vested interests. A lifetime Afro-Colombian activist, law student, and single mother of two, Márquez led 80 women on a long, 10-day march that pressured the Colombian government to remove illegal miners polluting local rivers. In addition to Márquez, the female recipients were Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid from South Africa, Nguy Thi Khanh from Vietnam, LeeAnne Walters from the United States, and Claire Nouvian from France who have fought to protect vulnerable communities from polluting resources. Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Prize
Ashley Hernandez grew up in Wilmington in South Los Angeles, a primarily latino community and home to one of the largest oil fields in the United States. Hernandez tackles environmental justice issues by educating her community about pollution. Her first campaign, “Clean Up Green Up,” led the Los Angeles City Council to support a pollution prevention and reduction strategy. Her new campaign is calling on Governor Jerry Brown to make California the first oil-producing state to phase out existing oil and gas production and to transition to sustainable fuels that can provide new jobs for workers while also protecting public health of vulnerable communities. Photo Credit: Melissa Lyttle for HuffPost
Even after 20 years of “UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders”, women human rights defenders (HRD) face systematic structural violence for raising awareness of political and environmental issues affecting their daily lives. To highlight the stories of these women, the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok launched a project “Her Life, Her Diary: Side by Side WHRDs 2018 - Diary of Hope and Dreams" featuring 20 women defenders and their everyday struggle against social injustice. Photo Credit: Luke Duggleby
Kanchan Dawn Hunter of Spiral Gardens, Kelly Carlisle, founder of Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project, and Gail Myers, founder of Farms to Grow, are three women of colour who are challenging the dominant image of white, male farmers in the agricultural industry. Females farmers are underrepresented both in terms of ownership but also with respect to the power dynamics in the agricultural system. For them, the act of growing food is intrinsically political, and is a way of empowering marginalized communities to re-establish their food sovereignty and restore their connection with themselves and planet Earth. Spiral Gardens provides free educational programs taught at its community farm and hosts community work days. Acta Non Verba aims to empower young people through urban farming and conducts field trips and farm visits. Farms to Grow supports marginalized farmers around the country who are practicing sustainable agriculture. Other organizations such as MESA and Urban Tilth also work to support a sustainable and equitable food industry. Photo Credit: Andria Lo.
On International Women’s Day, in Puyo, the capital of Pastaza, Ecuador’s biggest Amazonian province, over 350 Indigenous women from across Amazonia marched to pressure the Ecuadorian government for failing to meet commitments to Indigenous communities. The march was followed by a 3-day gathering led by female Indigenous leaders from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CPONFENAIE). With leaders from 7 Amazonian nations present (Andoa, Achuar, Kichua, Shuar, Shiwiar, Sapara and Waorani) attendees established the Assembly of Amazonian Women. During her long awaited speech Patricia Gualinga, the well-known Sarayaku leader, outlined her community’s proposal to protect the Amazon, Kawsak Sacha “Living Forest”. The proposal seeks to leave responsibility of forest protection to Indigenous communities who have a holistic relation to nature. Photo credit: Andrés Viera V. (March in Puyo on Women’s Day)
Indigenous land and rights defenders, Gloria Ushigua of Ecuador and Aura Tegria of Colombia, share the heart moving victories and struggles of their people against mega extraction projects on their land, weaving in significant moments from their personal stories. Gloria Ushigua is President of Sapara Women’s Association in Ecuador. She was publicly mocked on television by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa after protests in 2001 and violently persecuted after organizing significant mobilizations against oil drilling in 2015. Aura Tegria is an indigenous U’wa lawyer on the Legal Counsel to the U’wa people of Colombia. The childhood memories of her people organizing to protect their land inspired to become the U’Wa defender she is today. After intense protests, campaigns and legal action in 2014 and 2015, they successfully kicked out Occidental Petroleum followed by the successful dismantling of the large Magallanes gas well from their land. Part of the U’Wa resistance has also been against the Catholic and Evangelical church that historically promoted cultural extermination through their boarding schools for indigenous children and other oppressive practices. Both women share the history of their people’s resistance since colonization, their personal stories linked to that resistance, the recent struggles of their people and the inspiring victories.Photo Credit: Amazon Watch
Across Honduras, woman activists are fighting for their rights, even in the face of physical and sexual violence, intimidation, incarceration, and sometimes death. Berta Cáceres, who was the co-founder of Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH) and fought tirelessly against the construction of the sacred Agua Zarca Dam, was gunned down on March 3, 2016. The government, run by President Juan Orlando Hernández, has rejected calls for an independent investigation of her murder. He has also been accused by Human Rights Watch of actively contributing to the oppression of women and girls in Honduras, and a UN report stated that the administration has paid “minimal attention to” gender empowerment. Cáceres’ death has sparked protests and political action nationally and internationally as women call for an end to gender-based violence. In Honduras, a woman is murdered every 16 hours, a number that increased by 263 per cent between 2005 and 2013. Tragically, 96 per cent of femicides reported are never solved. Still, even in the face of bleak statistics, women leaders in Honduras claim that some changes are being made, particularly as the daughters of Cáceres lead the continuation of her fight. Photo Credit: Elizabeth McSheffrey (use photo of Berta posters in chapter 1)
Purépecha activist Guadalupe Campanur Tapia was a courageous Indigenous woman human rights and Earth defender of Cherán, Michocán, Mexico. Her bravery and leadership helped mobilize local Indigenous communities to protect regional forests against illegal logging, and to claim independence against a corrupt government. However, her activism resulted in threats of violence from organized crime groups, and she was murdered in January 2018. Campanur is among an increasing number of defenders across the globe who have been killed in recent years, especially women. This article recounts Guadalupes death in the context of the 312 defenders across 27 countries who were murdered in 2017. Photo credit: Cultural Survival
Rodrigo Rody Roa Duterte , the 16th president of Philippines was warned by two alliances recently to stop attack on human and Earth rights defenders. Women human right defenders had been facing constant attack under the Presidency, and for fighting against injustice and terror are often referred as “enemies of the state”. For fighting for their rights in the Cordillera, five women human right defenders, Rachel, Sarah, Sherry Mae, Joan, and Asia, faced false accusation and were threatened and harassed. Similarly, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Rachel Mariano, Joanne Villanueva, and Sherry Mae Soledad were also falsely accused for homicide. Just like Donald Trump in the U.S., Duterte is known for his sexist behavior and rape jokes. Photo Credit: Cultural Survival
Ta’ah is an elder indigenous to the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, or what has been known as Canada. With her team of six women, she has been working vigorously for climate justice and indigenous sovereignty with the award-winning organization Indigenous Climate Action (ICA). ICA empowers indigenous communities across Canada to strengthen the solutions that already exist in different nations, from tiny houses to building partnerships. Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, the organization’s executive director and founder, has seen her native homeland of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation struggle due to tar sands and other harmful extraction. Because their communities has experienced so much cultural and environmental devastation, they look to the next generation for hope. Indigenous activist Kanahus Manuel says that indigenous people already practice sustainability, and calls on everybody to cease the destruction of the environment. Photo Credit: Lauren Marina
Anti-pollution activist Phyllis Omido is finally receiving her day in court, after years at the forefront of a landmark class action suit demanding compensation and clean-up from a lead-smelting factory accused of poisoning residents of Owino Uhuru. The founder of the Centre for Justice, Governance, and Environmental Action, Omido has already successfully forced the closure of the factory and is now seeking reparations for community members. A co-winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, Omido is paving the way for other environmental litigations – even in the face of constant intimidation and threats. However, for Omido, this is just the start, as there are 17 other communities fighting for compensation for lead poisoning with whom she plans to organize. Picture Credit: Jonathan Watts
Camila Donatti, Director with Conservation International (CI) while acknowledging the division of labor among men and women, does feel that women and men need an equal amount of training to share knowledge about climate change. It is the best solution to engage them in good work while respecting their time limits. Shyla Raghav, an Indian American Climate expert with CI believes to find the best solutions for climate change we need to connect the women’s issues with climate change issues. Similarly Kame Westerman, a gender adviser with CI shared her personal experience of being discriminated against because of her gender. Margot Wood, associate scientist with CI shares the same experience while working on the field. Photo Credit: Benjamin Drummand
Yolanda Maturana dedicated her life to defending Colombia’s wildlife and forests, and was an opponent of illegal mining and water contamination in the central and north western Colombian departments of Risaralda and Choco. Because of her activism she was brutally assassinated in her home, in the village of Santa Cecilia. Across the country, violence is escalating towards environmental activists, a trend congruent with global patterns, but also influenced by Colombia’s brutal and continuing war. Photo credit: @yolandamaturana
At 2018 Women’s March events across the United States, Indigenous women stood in visible contrast to the bright pink pussy hats worn by the other marchers. Indigenous women donned red in remembrance of the missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) in the United States and Canada. The red color shows solidarity against discriminatory practices of the state, judicial system and the increasing violence against indigenous women. Sarafina Joe, a tribal citizen of the Diné (Navajo) Nation marched holding a red banner with the name of her sister, Nicole Joe on it, Nicole Joe, who died due to domestic violence. Devastatingly, her culprit was only charged with aggravated assault rather than murder. The number of such cases has been increasing among young Indigenous women, a tragedy still left unspoken by the masses and mainstream media. Photo Credit: Jenni Monet/ PBS
A new era of intensified government controls and restricted freedoms is hindering Human Rights Defenders from voicing their opinions. Constraints have been placed on feminist human rights and gender justice activists through government laws and restrictions. Berkeley Law and the Urgent Action Sister Fund adopt a human rights framework and gender approach to analyze the phenomenon of “closing space” and the challenges it poses for women human rights defenders and their innovative resistance strategies.
Jacqui Patterson has been fighting for social justice for years, bringing this expertise to her work as the Environmental and Climate Justice program director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Her international work started with HIV/AIDS advocacy, and she has uplifted stories of resilience from women across the U.S. and around the world. Patterson has spoken with South African women facing increased sexual violence because of climate-induced drought and food insecurity, interviewed women across the U.S. impacted by climate change and fighting for justice, and volunteered with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. Seeing a need for more gender and race analysis in climate change conversations, Patterson helped co-found Women of Color United, a global solidarity network. As an African-American woman, she brings a rigorous intersectional analysis of race, gender, class and other social identities into all climate justice work, fighting for a just transition rooted in deep democracy.
Aleta Baun, Eva Susanti Hanafi Bande, and Rusmedia Lumban Gaol are just a few of the fierce grassroots leaders fighting against Indigenous cultural and environmental destruction in Indonesia’s rural areas. In July 2017, they gathered with some 50 defenders, most of them women, to share their stories and celebrate their courageous activism in the face of a socio-ecological crisis in their homeland. Timber, mining, palm oil, and other extractive industries have exhausted the country’s natural resources and defenders like Aleta, Eva, and Rusmedia have bravely opposed their efforts in the face of violence, internal persecution, and imprisonment. Photo credit: Lusia Arumingtyas/Mongabay-Indonesia
Rights groups from across Asia and the international community are calling on authorities to do more to protect women land rights defenders. In many cases, defenders reported threats prior to their deaths, but the reports were either ignored or downplayed. In the Philippines, for example, Elisa Badayos and her male colleague were murdered in 2017 after investigating land rights violations. In Thailand and Cambodia, women are facing increased violence, while the matrilineal tradition in Papua New Guinea has been fractured following a decades-long conflict over an open pit mine. In India, defenders also face pressure from their family members and community. Rights groups, therefore, are demanding that these defenders be heard and recognized by the state. Photo credit: Reuters/Samrang Pring
Lottie Cunningham Wren is a human rights defender and Founder of the Centre for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Working with 124 remote communities, she helps Indigenous people exercise their legal rights and protect natural resources, and speaks out against the invasion of lands by private companies. Her role in the landmark Awas Tingni vs. Nicaragua case resulted in huge land rights victories for Indigenous peoples through the Americas. However, Cunningham Wren works in a precarious context. She received threatening letters in March 2017, was subjected to a kidnapping attempt in May 2015, and her colleagues now face intimidation. Photo credit: Front Line Defenders
Olanike Olubunmi Olugboji empowers other women in Nigeria to build sustainable, safe and equitable alternatives to dangerous ways of life. She is the founder and director of the Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE), formerly known as Environmental Management and Protection Network (EMPRONET), based in Kaduna, Nigeria. Holding degrees in urban and regional planning, Olugboji urges more women to be involved in the development and management of natural resources. WISE trains and educates women to be proactive against the mounting challenges posed by climate change and deforestation. For example, the Women’s Clean Cookstove Training and Entrepreneurship Program educates women about the health risks of woodstoves and gives them alternatives that are not only environmentally sustainable but financially viable as well. Nearly 10,000 women have participated in WISE programs already, and Olugboji hopes to open up a Women’s Eco Learning and Resource Center to reach even more women. Photo Credit: Stephen Obodomechine
Jeanette Sequeira, gender programme coordinator at the Global Forest Coalition, shares thoughts on the situation of global women who stand up for human rights and the environment, while facing violence and even murder. She shares the stories of frontline women leaders such as Lottie Cunningham, a lawyer from Nicaragua who defends Indigenous communities against illegal corporate and state led land-grabbing despite threats; and the Mapuche women in Chile who are engaged in a struggle to defend their land while facing criminalisation, militarization, and the risk of murder. Sequeira calls out state, non-state, paramilitary, private security and corporate actors who continue to silence activists and act within a culture of impunity.
As climate change exasperates natural disasters such as droughts and floods, African farmers are finding difficulty maintaining economic stability, leading to an increase in the prevalence of child marriages in Malawi and Mozambique. While marriage under the age of 18 has been outlawed in both countries, the prevalence of child marriages has continued to persist in the face of increased poverty due to climate change. With shifting climate patterns affecting fishing and crop seasonality, many families are finding it difficult to feed each mouth, leading millions of young girls to be married off in response. And while the data detailing this intersection remains largely understudied, the occurrence of lost childhoods and educational opportunities continue to increase. Photo Credit: The Guardian
On the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD), over 1,000 diverse members of Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IM -Defensoras) raised a collective voice to protect WHRDs and secure a dignified life for all. Between 2012 to 2016, at least 53 women defenders have been documented as killed, mostly by state actors, for their activism and voice. Violence and discrimination is used as a mechanism for social control, and women are standing to challenge the patriarchal mandate and demand from the state the protection they deserve. Photo credit: IM-Defensoras
To mark the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Based Violence and the International Day for Women Human Rights Defenders, Amnesty Canada draws attention to fierce women doing incredible work in unimaginably challenging circumstances. In this article, Amnesty explores the experiences of three powerful women living in prison or under threat of violence due to their activism. In Egypt, Hanan Badr el-Din, motivated by the disappearance of her husband in 2013, co-founded a group that investigates these injustices. However, she was arrested on false charges and sentenced to 5 years in prison. In Guatemala, Maya-K’iche human rights defender, Lolita Chavez, works to defend Indigenous rights against corporate abuses. After significant threats, she now lives under police protection. In Honduras, activists still live in fear, a year after Berta Cáceres was murdered. Attacks and threats of rape and harm continue to be directed towards their daughters. Amnesty Canada calls for action to protect the rights of these courageous women. Photo credit: CORINH
22 year old, Sophia Wilansky was standing outside the Dakota Access Pipeline encampment when she was flattened by a deafening explosion. This became the emblematic moment of violence at the Standing Rock protest was likely caused by a cop’s concussion grenade. The explosion ripped out her bone, muscles, nerves, and arteries in her left arm. Despite this, Wilansky vows to continue the fight against climate change and for the rights of indigenous people. Photo Credit: Annie Wermiel
Women are more vulnerable to climate change but are less represented at the U.N. Climate Negotiations. The establishment of the Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) at the Climate Negotiations has formalized the voice of women and gender equality. At COP23, in Bonn, Germany, the WGC pushed for a new gender action plan, to help increase female participation at the U.N, increase funding for women, and ensure climate solutions uphold the rights of women and indigenous peoples. Photo Credit: Patrik Stollarz / Getty Images
The association of women human rights defenders in the Philippines, Tanggol Bayi, has reported at least 17 women human rights defenders murdered by the administration of President Duterte, including Elisa Badayos, Cora Lina, Manobo Jessybel Sanchez, Leonila Pesadilla, and many more known and unknown. Leonila and her husband were working to stop mining in their ancestral lands. Many of those killed have included rural and Indigenous women, as well as environmental activists and defenders of peace and democracy. Sexual abuse and gendered violence has been frequent, amongst other human rights violations. Photo credit: Anne Marxze D Umil, Bulatlat
Raksha Bandhan, a hindu festival celebrating the bond between brother and sister has inspired women in Muturkham, Jharkhand to protect their forests. In 1998, when Jamuna Tudu, also known as ‘Lady Tarzan’, noticed large areas of clearcut forest she began to speak out. She managed to organize Van Suraksha Samiti, a band of 25 women fortified with bows and arrows, bamboo sticks and spears to tackle the enemies of their forest. After driving out the mafia cutting down their forests, the women began tying the ‘knot of protection’, around the trees. Stemming from the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan, the knot symbolizes the love between brothers and sisters, where a sister ties a rakhi (holy thread) on the wrist of her brother to ward off evil and in turn, he vows to protect her until death. The rakhi around the trees symbolizes that these women will protect their trees until death. Photo Credit: YouTube
Sharon Day, executive director of Indigenous Peoples Task Force in Minneapolis and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, is a woman of substance: she has been walking many miles to bring people’s attention to the importance of water and how waterways have been polluted. She has walked along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, joined by a core team of five companions and anyone else who wants to join. Known as Nibi Walks (nibi is the Ojibwe word for water), the walks are prayers, not protests. She is deeply inspired by the grandmother of the Nibi Walks movement, Josephine Mandamin. Photo Credit: Sharon Day
The increasing feminization of agriculture is an expanding market for women farmers in northern India. They are organizing themselves in self help groups and cooperatives such as Aarohi, Chirag and Mahila Umang (one of largest cooperatives in Uttrakhand) by helping each other to bear financial expenses. These cooperatives promote the traditional way of agriculture in nearby states like Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya along the restoring the hills by reforestation. In most of these states, men and young people have moved to urban areas. So, now the women who are left behind are creating balance between the rural economy and ecology, says Kalyan Paul, co-founder of Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation in Almora, Uttrakhand. Photo Credit: Esha Chhabra
In this short excerpt from, ‘The Seeds of Vandana Shiva’, a documentary produced by Becket Films about Shiva’s remarkable journey, we see a glimpse into Shiva’s introduction into environmental activism. Her journey begins as a young Himalayan woman with a strong desire to spread the word about the Chipko Movement, a forest conservation movement where Indian women clung on to trees to protect them from being cut. This is one of the first ever recorded efforts by women to protect trees; thus demonstrating the long history of women as forest protectors. The full film is set to release soon. Photo Credit: Becket Films
Sikhala Sonke is a grassroots group of women social justice advocates, who began organizing in response to the tragic events of police violence at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa. Five years after the tragedy, with no compensation and no end to abuses, the women campaign ongoingly for recognition, safety, and justice in the face of intense, ongoing economic and physical exploitation of mine workers. The mining fields of Marikana offers little to no security at the workplace, poor wages and constant threats of rape and assault for women, in a country where every third South African woman fighting violence against them. Despite the all the challenges, Sikhala women stands in solidarity and support each other to expose injustice and create solutions for healthy and safe livelihoods. Photo Credit: Sikhala Sonke
Around the world, the intensity of threats to women human rights defenders continues to escalate. This report from JASS Just Associates and JASS MesoAmerica offers new feminist and social movement perspectives to questions surrounding why, despite increased attention and legal protections, women human rights activists and the organizations and communities with which they work continue to face worsening persecution and dangers.
María de Jesús “Marichuy” Patricio Martínez, a Nahua Indigenous woman leader born in Tuxpan, Jalisco, has made history as Mexico’s first ever Indigenous woman presidential candidate for the 2018 elections. María is a traditional healer in her community, know for her lifetime of work to protect traditional ways, culture, language and the wellbeing of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico. She was prompted to run for office after witnessing the dangerous impact of industry, particularly mining, on the health and lives of her people and the land on which they depend. Photo credit: Duncan Tucker
Murder Of Celedonia Zalazar, Community Judge And Defender Of Indigenous Territory On Caribbean Coast
Celedonia Zalazar Point, a community judge and defender of indigenous land rights, was unjustly murdered due to escalating territorial disputes between Indigenous communities and imperialist settlers. After Bernicia Dixon Peranta, she is the second women’s human rights defender to be murdered on the Caribbean Coast, in addition to numerous deaths and displacements due to government inaction. Photo credit: Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders
All over the world, Indigenous communities exist and function within two justice systems based on different worldviews: the European and the Indigenous. Human Rights Lawyer Michelle Cook (Diné), member of the Navajo Nation and born of the Honághááhnii clan, discusses the unequal relationship between these two frameworks and explains how the language of Human Rights can help challenge the colonial legal system which understates Indigenous' institutions. Photo Credit: Indigenous Rights Radio.
Afrida Erna Ngato is an indigenous activist and a “Sangaji Pagu” – a leader of the Pagu, a tribe living on their land since the 11th century. Previously, all leaders of the tribe were men but, Afrida stepped forward and became the first female leader. The mining in the Gulf of Kao caused water shortages, polluted rivers and bays, damaged ecosystems, and loss of biodiversity. Since the pipe burst, people began to fear eating fish, using the river water, and having trouble finding fish in the river. Access to clean water has reached crisis levels and this situation made Afrida take action. She protested for her community's rights along with 23 community members. All of them were arrested by the police but this made them even stronger. After this incident, Afrida widened her network by collaborating with neighboring tribes and now this makes it more difficult for mining companies to exploit them.
Maria Nailevu recounts how her lived experience of climate change on the island of Taveuni has led to her current work on gender and climate change. She details her important work with feminist and community-led organization Diverse Voices & Action for Equality (DIVA). She recounts the work of the Women Defend the Commons campaign, which promotes social, economic and ecological justice in a women-led Suva-based organisation. Photo credit: Christine Irvine/Survival Media Agency
The Association for Women in Development (AWID and the Women Human Rights Defender International Coalition published a report entitled “Women Human Rights Defenders Confronting Extractive Industries” that lays out recommendations for practitioners to support this crucial work. They advocate for the recognition and support of women human rights defenders, an end to the criminalization of their activities, and empowerment and capacity-building for key leaders.
This video introduces several women human rights defenders from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They share their struggles for land and life, and speak to the risks and challenges they face in their activism. This video is released alongside a helpful practical guide entitled "Weaving Resistance Through Action: Strategies of Women Human Rights Defenders Confronting Extractive Industries” by the Association for Women in Development. Photo credit: AWID
When the state government of Uttarakhand proposed construction of the Desvari dam, a 252-megawatt hydropower project on the Pinder River, residents of Chepdu village were worried: blasting through rock in an already flood-prone seismic zone would put the lives and livelihoods of 20,000 people at risk. While some men in the community obtained contract work from the construction company, making them partisan to the project, women like Bilma Joshi stood strong, organizing their community to demand their statutory rights and oppose a project that would all but destroy the Pinder River. Photo Credit: Matu Jan Sanghathan
Though climate justice is not typically thought of as integral to civil rights or women’s rights, Jacqueline Patterson, director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, asks us to see their overlapping nature. Marginalized communities are often marginalized in many ways simultaneously: black populations are concentrated in poor neighborhoods, as is food insecurity, as are toxic waste facilities. While combatting climate change then, the concerns of marginalized communities need to be centered. Thus, access, affordability and viable livelihoods should be of high priority—as is consistent with a just transition. Photo Credit: Unknown
Kristen Youens, an attorney specializing in environmental law and justice, examines the threats and intimidation faced by environmental activists in South Africa. Women activists, such as Lebogang Ngobeni from the Fuleni Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal and Nonhle Mbuthuma, spokesperson for the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), are often targeted.. Mining laws make it easy for corporations and businesses to confiscate land and plunder the resources for their benefit. Activists are silenced using tactics such as strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). Environmental defenders receive no protection from authorities, while the perpetrators walk free. Photo credit: Leon Swart
There was an attempted attack on Bertita Zúñiga Cáceres, the daughter of renowned environmental activist Berta Cáceres, and the new leader of Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) on her way home from a community visit. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now speaks with Bertita Zúñiga Cáceres to get insight into the attack and the possible motives. She is also joined by US Representative Hank Johnson and Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, a former COPINH member. Photo credit: Democracy Now!
According to a joint report by the Observatory, Protection International and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, rural Thai women are facing an increasing risk of violence and harassment. The report details how the military government of Thailand is failing to uphold civil rights of women human rights defenders who are at the forefront of fights for land and natural resource protection. Institutional discrimination renders women susceptible, and the government has failed to ensure their protection and access to justice. New laws are being introduced alongside existing laws to criminalize the efforts of women activists.
Global women’s rights organization, MADRE, participated in the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C., bringing together Indigenous and frontline women from across the world to ensure their voices are heard, and to highlight the disproportionate impacts of climate change felt by women. Amongst the Women Climate Defenders who marched with MADRE were Winnie Kodi (Sudan), Lucy Mulenkei (Kenya), Martha Ntoipo (Tanzania), and Alina Saba (Nepal), alongside Yifat Susskind, MADRE’s executive director, and Diana Duarte, MADRE’s policy and communications director.
Defending human rights is not a task for the faint hearted. It is dangerous task, especially if you are a woman human rights defender (WHRD) living in politicized societies such as Thailand. Thai human rights defenders such as Pranom Somwong , a member of Protection International, understand the risks associated with their jobs. Since the 2014 coup, women are more vulnerable to online intimidations and physical attacks. Women living in rural areas who are advocating for environmental rights and natural resources rights face a higher degree of danger. Montha Chukaew and Pranee Boonra were ruthlessly murdered in cold blood and their bodies mutilated for their agricultural land rights advocacy. There is critical need for the provision of basic protections and justice, in line with the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Photo Credit: AP
The Intag cloud forest has been a hotspot for mining corporations for decades. A group of strong-willed women are taking a stance against these companies to protect the area’s biodiversity. Headed by Silvia Betancourt, The Coordination of Women, an umbrella group of 13 collectives, is fighting mining companies and ecological contamination. Marcia Ramirez, the leader of an anti-mining group, wants to prove that women too are capable of leading. She believes women dedicate more time to taking care of nature and are thus vulnerable to slight changes in the environment due to the nature of their daily errands. Photo credit: Naomi Renee Cohen
Members of the Council of Ki’che’ Peoples (CPK), including Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic, identify unauthorized clear cutters in the protected forest area and take matters into their hand. They are confronted by a group of armed men who directly threaten Lolita and other members of the CPK, including children, causing them to flee in search of refuge. Photo credit: IM-Defensoras
Defenders of land, territory and environment, primarily women, from the Andean Region and the Latin American South gathered in Mexico City to scrutinize the context of violence in the region. Earth defenders in the region are a target of increasing violence, from both state and non-state actors, and imprisonment with little to no recognition of their rights. The culture of violence and discrimination against women and gender mandates reduce their authority and value of their work. A pact was made to ensure the protection of these women within their movements, to recognize and promote their work, to promote political formation for both genders and to foster their ownership of land. Photo credit: IM-Defensoras
Tara Houska, an Ojibwe woman of the Couchiching First Nation who is a tribal attorney in Washington, D.C., and Native American Affairs Advisor to Bernie Sanders, discusses the biggest challenges and lessons from her time on the front line at Standing Rock and what’s next in the fight against corporate environmental destruction and systemic racism. She advocates engaging with local governance, taking direct action (such as protesting or participating in lawsuits) or indirect action (such as refusing to support corporations that fund destructive activities), and using social media to raise awareness of climate issues and protests. Photo credit: NITV
The Kayapo tribe in Brazil is shifting traditional gender roles with the emergence of three new female chiefs across its many communities within the Amazon rainforest. Tuire, one of the first female chiefs of the Kapran-krere village, is using her position to unite the fractured communities against outside threats. Recent legislation has reassigned land rights from the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest to the Ministry of Justice, suspected to allow for private interests to use the land for logging, mining, and cattle ranching. Tuire and other female chiefs are working to regain the rights to own and conserve their ancestral land. Photo credit: Pinar Yolacan
Beatrice Hunter is many things at once: mother, grandmother and unapologetic land protector from the Indigenous Inuit community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Canada. Last fall, Hunter joined dozens of local land protectors in occupying the construction site of a highly controversial dam on Muskrat Falls, which holds immense cultural, economic and spiritual value for her people. Hunter now faces one criminal charge and two civil charges, and has defiantly refused to stay away from the Falls despite law enforcement's demands. In speaking out about the series of events, Hunter emphasizes that her people’s identities and livelihoods are deeply interconnected with the Falls, as well as the injustice of continued exploitation by settler-colonialism. Photo credit: Facebook
Globally, the killings of environmental rights defenders is growing at an alarming rate. In 2015 alone, of the 156 killings investigated by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, 45% were those of land, indigenous and environmental rights. Inna Michaeli and Semanur Karaman, of the Association for Women in Development, write about the grassroots resistance of women like Havva Ana, a forest protector from Turkey. Bonita Meyersfeld, professor of law at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, argues that development projects are only successful if the economnic benefits are reinvested in communities. Photo credit: Gabby de Cicco
AWID pay tribute to Jane Julia de Oliveira as part of their series that honours the memory of over 350 women human rights defenders from 80 different countries, highlighting these women in our collective memory so their struggle lives on. Jane Julia de Oliveira, from the Pará state of Brazil, was a land rights community leader, environmental defender, and president of Associaҫão dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras Rurais (Association of Rural Workers). On the 24th May 2017 she was shot dead by local police, along with a group of people on the farm where she worked. Photo credit: AWID
Standing up to dams, mines, logging and unsustainable agricultural practices on your land could cost you your life in Honduras. Honduras has been ranked as the world’s deadliest country for environmental activists. Berta Cáceres, founder of Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was murdered there for her environmental activism. Melissa Cardoza has dedicated her book “13 Colors of the Honduran Resistance” to Cáceres and women of the Honduran Resistance in the aftermath of the June 2009 coup. Photo credit: Fernando Antonio
An ever-increasing number of women activists are targeted due to their functions as advocates against all sorts of abuse. Because of that, the organization JASS and its partners have been trying to develop a different approach to guidelines for the safety of activists, one based on a feminist perspective. The Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative has been informed by dialogues that take place in a plural environment, with the participation of organizations, activists, donors, the United Nations, etc. The idea is to provide insights and come to conclusions as to how to diminish the dangers these women are exposed to when confronting powerful interests. Photo credit: JASS Just Associates
Ana Célia, Edite Rodrigues, and Odete Mendes are among many rural Brazilian women who are struggling to make a living off of sugarcane farming but face unhealthy working conditions and unfair wages—conditions being exacerbated by land monopolies and market speculation. In the case of women like Maria Souza and Lusiane dos Santos, these stories have repeated themselves throughout multiple generations, with mothers and daughters being forced to work in the fields to sustain their families. Despite small farmers being most responsible for food production and job creation in the countryside, they occupy less agricultural land and receive less state support than large landowners and corporations, causing food insecurity and displacement in rural communities and subjecting women workers with limited alternatives to degrading conditions. That is why leaders like Carlita da Costa, president of the Cosmópolis Rural Workers Union, is fighting for labor rights by organizing rural women and focusing on structural changes to ensure secure markets for women farmers, public resources and social services, accessible education in the countryside, and basic rights to land and food. Photo credit: Feminist Alliance for Rights
Than Than Aye is an activist lawyer for human rights. She decided to study law after she saw how her brother and his peers suffered violations of their rights and could not afford a lawyer to defend them. The siblings later created a civil and political organization to help communities empower themselves legally. Than Than is also part of EarthRights International, working with communities in search of justice in themes such as land and human rights. Being a lawyer on the ground is a big challenge and Than Than faces many dangers, but she believes that helping communities is of the utmost importance. Photo credit: EarthRights International
The Samin women of Indonesia are taking the lead to save Kendeng Karst mountains in Central Java from environmental destruction as cement companies consider expanding mining and production. The courageous Nine Kartinis of Kendeng from the Samin Community use non-violent resistance by planting their feet in cement to take a concrete stand against cement plants. Photo credit: Yes To Life No To Mining
Building off of findings from the report, “Women Human Rights Defenders Confronting Extractive Industries,” the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) outlines the gender-specific barriers Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) encounter when they defend their land and communities from extractive industries and environmental degradation. Testimonials from the women illustrate their individual experiences. In this post, AWID also emphasizes the inseparable link between extractive models of development and risks and threats WHRDs face worldwide. Photo credit: ACDI/Katalina Morales
April 22 is Earth Day, and in 2017, women and men took over the streets of Washington, D.C. as part of the “March for Science” in recognition of the need to address climate change. For many women around the world, however, Earth Day truly is every day. Because land is often passed down from father to son, and because land rights are so closely tied to economic empowerment and independence, women are keenly aware of the opportunities that accompany land rights. Not only that, but in many parts of the world, land is also deeply tied to ancestral knowledge and culture. These are only some of the reasons why women are leading powerful movements for land and women’s rights. Bai Bibyaon of the Philippines, Ana Sandoval of Guatemala, and Melania Chiponda of Zimbabwe are just a few of the women leading the resistance against environmental destruction by mining companies across the world. For these women and for women everywhere, land is about dignity and justice. Illustration credit: Maria Maria Acha-Kutscher
In 2013, Alicia Cawiya, Vice-President of the Huaorani Nation of Ecuador, addressed the country’s Constituent Assembly in Quito denouncing the oil companies and defending her Indigenous brothers and sisters from other groups, and their culture. After her powerful speech, Alicia became an inspiration for Indigenous women and a respected national political figure and Indigenous activist. Later, she wrote to the Permanent Representative for China to the United Nations to protest the violation of Indigenous rights by the Chinese state company Andes Petroleum that resulted from the agreements signed with the Ecuadorian government in 2016. In addition, she helped to organize a Women’s March to demand that Indigenous territories be declared a petroleum-extraction-free zone. Alicia is the founder of the Huaorani Artisanal Women’s Association and she continues to fight for women’s economic empowerment. Photo credit: Elle Enander
Women Environmental Defenders Condemn Systemic Violence Before The Inter-American Commission On Human Rights
A delegation of women environmental advocates appeared before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to denounce systemic violence against environmental land defenders. Among those testifying were Juliana Bravo Valencia, Amazon Program Coordinator for EarthRights International, Joan Martínez Alier, Naomi Klein and Esperanza Martinez Yanez and Ivonne Ramos from Acción Ecológica. The timing of the hearing was meaningful for environmental defenders, as several governments in the Americas have prioritized the welfare of corporations over human rights. Photo credit: EarthRights International
Alicia Lopez Guisao was a leader of the Asokinchas community in Colombia, organizing the Agrarian Summit Project, which distributed land and food for 12 Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in the department of Choco. When shopping in a grocery store in Medellín, she was shot to death by two gunmen. Since the retreat of Colombia’s FARC, other paramilitary groups have been acting to gain power in the city, and consequently the rate of attacks to human rights activists increased. In spite of all the pain, Alicia’s family might not be able to attend the burial, as they have been threatened to be the next in case they do. Photo credit: Congreso de los Pueblos
Women represent a major force in the defense of the environment and human rights. Because of the resistance they present, women are harassed, criminalized and murdered around the world. The violence against them increases over time, and yet these women continue the fight for what they believe in. As a celebration of Women’s Day, learn from the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network about five incredible women: Melania Chiponda, Josephine Pagalan, Ana Mirian Romero, Joy Braun and LaDonna BraveBull Allard. Photo credit: CommonDreams
More and more often, women who defend the rights of their communities and lands are victims of sexual and physical violence and are even killed for “crossing the line.” In 2012, Juventina Villa was killed alongside her son in the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico. For years she had led the environmental organization Peasant Ecologists of Petatlán and Couca, and as a leader, she worked tirelessly to defend the forests, rivers, and communities of the region. Anoterer woman, Josefina Reyes, was killed in 2010 after criticizing the military’s violation of human rights along the U.S.-Mexico border. Margarita Chub Che, too, was murdered when she fought back against displacement due to agribusiness expansion. In Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, more than 24 women human rights defenders have been killed in a few short years. As a result, organizations of women across the world are demanding protection for those courageous enough to stand up against injustice.
Ruth Alicia was a well-known and respected community leader, engaged in the promotion of health and education projects, most recognizably through the food security projected organized by the ‘Cumbre Agraria’. Her bravery and empathetic social engagement helped organize and empower local indigenous and Afro descendant communities in areas neglected and condemned within the violence of the Colombian war. As a result of her humanitarian commitment, Ruth Alicia and her family received constant threats and were displaced by paramilitaries. Ruth Alicia was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen on March 2, 2017. Photo credit: HRD Memorial
Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green was a renowned Filipino environmental lawyer working in pursuit of public interest, respect for human rights, and the promotion of social justice for over ten years. She dedicated her life towards the investigation of crimes against the environment, women, and children, and was known nationally as an empathetic and passionate individual. Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green was murdered in response to her life’s work, adding the death toll of Filipino environmental activists killed over a 15 year period to a staggering 112. Photo credit: Rappler.com
Ana Sandoval’s journey as a land defender has been marked with plenty of remarkable moments. She started as early as a high school student fighting to stop a gold mining mega-project in her community. The experience turned her into a law student leader in a non-violent, women-led grassroots movement “La Puya” in the defense of land. Photo credit: Global Fund For Women
On February 21 2017, Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology and History delivered an official apology to three Indigenous women for the violation of their human rights. Alberta Alcántara, Jacinta Francisco Marcial, and Teresa González, members of the Hñä-Hñú (Otomí) people, were first arrested and unlawfully detained in August 2006, after the police tried to seize goods from Indigenous vendors. They were falsely charged with the kidnapping of six federal police and despite the lack of evidence, sentenced to 21 years in prison without the Hñähñu translator they should have been provided with under the law. The case is emblematic of the failures of Mexico’s justice system to offer equitable access to justice to indigenous people. Photo credit: Open Society Foundations
Gabrielle, an aspiring biologist and environmental scientist, is educating her community about the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL). The Central Cebu Protected Landscape, home to various endemic and critically endangered species, is a forest reserve located in the mountains and drainage basins of central Cebu in the Philippines. After working for a local NGO, Gabrielle learned about the forest “dead zones”, areas where invasive species like Mahogany have taken over and inhibited native species from growing. Now her main objective is to educate the public and protect the CCPL’s unique biodiversity and water supply. Photo Credit: Commundos