Women are leading a social movement that is demanding accountability. The #MeToo movement and the historic Women’s March are defining features of a rapidly changing landscape. We are seeing a growing number women speaking truth
to power. More women than ever have taken to the streets to make their voices heard and an unprecedented number of women are vying for political leadership. This benefits both social and environmental justice. Women are the greener sex and as explained in a GMO article empowering women has been shown to be conducive to sustainability.
There have been hundreds of women who have led environmental efforts around the world. Here are some of the women that are championing the environment and leading sustainability.
Brave souls like Berta Cáceres paid for their social and environmental advocacy with their lives. In the Americas we are seeing leadership in the far north from Sheila Watt-Cloutier who is the world’s leading voice on Arctic climate impacts and human rights. In South America Marina Silva is a prominent advocate for the protection of the Amazon. In Africa Wangari Matthai founded the Green Belt Movement that has led to more than 13 million trees being planted in Africa.
A couple of women helped to pioneer sustainability. Women like Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland and Hunter Lovins are well known thought leaders who have helped define better approaches to development and business. Brundtland is widely regarded as the mother of sustainable development and Lovins has been at the forefront of the sustainability movement for more than three decades. As the President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions Lovins has been a powerful advocate for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Smart leaders know that women offer immense value. Sustainability guru Pol Polman works with some very capable women at Unilever. While Polman gets a lot of well deserved credit for his sustainability leadership, Unilever’s Vice President of Sustainability Karen Hamilton and CSO Gail Klintworth have been an integral part of the company’s success. Nike inc. is another high profile brand that is also benefiting women’s leadership. Nike’s Sustainable Business leadership comes from Vice President Hannah Jones and Senior Director Agata Ramallo Garcia.
The women in leadership roles demonstrates that they are eminently qualified and in many respect superior to their male counterparts. Despite the capable efforts of these women, gender bias remains. Men still dominate the senior echelons of CSR and sustainability, even though the evidence indicates that having an executive team that includes women offers better performance.
There are a number of impediments to women’s leadership that are antithetical to sustainability. If we are serious about sustainability, we must also be serious about gender equality. Supporting women and helping them to achieve prominent positions is a powerful step towards a better world.
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Remembering Marjory Stoneman Douglas
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Empowering Women is Synonymous with Combating Climate Change
The 21 Most Powerful Women in Sustainability (gb&d magazine)
Female Climate Justice Leaders and Environmental Champions (350.org)
Video – Women on the Margins: The Shriver Report and Implications for Sustainability
Impediments to Women in the Workforce Inhibit Environmental Action