On the first day of Climate Week NYC 2021, female leaders from around the world and from diverse industries, cultures, and backgrounds discuss how have been, are, and will continue to be at the forefront of solving climate change. Indigenous women, and those leading in business and grassroots organizations discuss how they have created change in sustainable energy, gender and racial equality, and food security. Through this virtual event, it becomes evident . The discussion opens with Amanda Gorman’s performance of her poem “Earthrise,” highlighting the importance of climate urgency in our arts and entertainment.
Sherri Mitchell, an Indigenous Rights Attorney, continues this message of a need for action and how looking to our ancestors can help. Growing up on the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation, she learned the importance of being true “children of the earth,” living in harmony with nature. women have traditionally been leaders in native sustainable practices such as tending to forests, cultivating nutritious food, and using tools and materials that are biodegradable and reusable. Katharine Wilkinson from the All We Can Save Project, extends the message of powerful women in history with Eunice Newton Foote, who first discovered changes in CO2 could alter the earth’s atmosphere 165 years ago. Women have always been leaders in addressing a need for a more balanced coexistence.
This continues today into the business sector where Jamie Alexander, the Director of Drawdown Labs is at the head of making every industry, company, and position a green one. With the wisdom, practices, and technology all accessible to make real change, every job is a climate job now. Builders, city managers, chefs, investors, designers, artists, teachers, and supply chain analysts can all apply sustainable practices to their niche of the world. Combining business technology and climate innovation is apparent in the partnership of Avery Schlicher, the Director of Sustainability Solutions at Salesforce, and Apricot Tang, the Management Consulting Manager at Accenture. Both women use data and AI to make businesses better, tracking emissions so that even customer relationship management software is harmonious with the health of our planet.
Grassroots movements are popping up across the globe with female leaders using their voices to not only advocate for the planet, but also using green solutions to help at the intersection of other pressing issues. Natalie Isaacs, the Founder of 1 Million Women, saw how bringing women together to share how they reduce waste in their daily lives could also bring them together to vote on key issues of climate change and women’s rights. Jacqui Patterson, the former Director of the NAACP Environment and Climate Justice, highlights how our political, industrial, and cultural systems must drastically change to align with nature, and while we are altering every aspect of our lives, we might as well make these systems more equal and inclusive for all people too. This includes our food where Karen Washington, the Founder of Rise & Root Farm proclaims they are not food deserts, for there is food but it’s fast, junk, and not nutritious. It is “food apartheid,” and people have the right to access healthy food.
We need women, Bill McKibben the Founder of 350.org sums up. In his thirty years of activism, most of the people he noticed he was working with were women. The climate movement cannot just happen “one Tesla at a time, one vegan at a time,” but needs an enormous sense of empathy and skills of solidarity that women possess. May Boeve, the Executive Director of 350.org celebrates that the invisible labor of women is becoming apparent, and this visibility is creating a just transition. Our changing planet can be fixed, and it will be women paving the way.