We’re celebrating International Women’s Day 2020 by shining a light on a group of formidable females from across the globe. These illuminated ladies work in the spaces where we share a passion; they’re change-makers and movers and shakers. We can learn a lot from their action across the areas of women’s rights, the environment, and sustainable fashion. Here’s a little wrap sheet on each of these inspirational women; an insight into how they’re driving change.
A complicated character, Emmeline led the suffragette movement; tirelessly pushing for equality in an uphill battle. Guiding a league of extraordinary and fearless women, these anti-patriarchal pioneers threw themselves under horse-hoof, chained themselves to property and starved themselves all in the name of egalitarianism. Their tenacity, with Emmeline at the forefront, resulted in women getting the vote in 1918 (well, those over 30 who owned property or had a husband who owned property). But what a start!
When she was just 15, the Taliban in Pakistan shot Malala Yousafzai in the head. After the Taliban banned girls from school, Malala became a target when she took a stand to demand every girls’ right to an education. That was in 2012, and since then, this hero has risen to become a pivotal agent of change and is now the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She works to shift perspectives on women, children, inequality and education across the world.
In Bangladesh, on April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh collapsed. An unimaginable 1,138 people lost their lives, and many were injured. Motivated to act in response, Carry Somers founded Fashion Revolution on the same day. This movement encourages consumers to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes, and producers to respond with #IMadeYourClothes. From there, the Fashion Revolution Week has gone from strength to strength in support of cleaner, fairer, slower fashion.
An advocate for both conservation and women’s rights, Wangari founded The Green Belt Movement which has four focuses within Kenya: tree planting and water harvesting, climate change, mainstream advocacy, gender livelihood and advocacy. This forward-thinking powerhouse went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for advances in sustainable development, democracy and peace.
An activist from Gambia, Isatou Ceesay is known as the 'Queen of Recycling,' after founding the movement, One Plastic Bag. As an answer to the need for recycling and waste reduction, her initiative creates plastic yarn and makes bags from the upcycled waste. Her project has not only vastly reduced waste in her village but also served to educate people around her. The One Plastic Bag initiatives now provide hundreds of West African women with monthly revenue.
To bring world leaders together, May co-founded 350.org to rally against climate change. To bring down CO2 levels and alleviate global warming, the organisation targets the fossil fuel industry. In the hopes of decreasing the danger of increasing temperature, her platform seeks to restrain the influence of the industry and challenge governments about their emissions.
An oceanographer and marine biologist, Sylvia takes deep dives into advocating for our oceans. Founding Mission Blue in 2009, this non-profit is set on protecting global marine preserves. As an author, Sylvia is raising public awareness of the ocean as ‘the blue heart of the planet;’ supporting them as precious ecological places. She also assisted in the design of research submarines and was Time Magazine's 1998 Hero of the Planet.
This inspiring woman is the CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, a forum for leaders in fashion sustainability. A source of thought leadership and advocacy, this agenda encourages the industry to be bold and act now around sustainability. On top of this, Eva is also the CEO of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the world's largest annual industry event for sustainable fashion. This summit sets actions for exploring dire environmental, social and ethical issues.
A sustainable fashion force of nature, Amy is the former editor of EcoSalon. Now a regular contributor to The Guardian and Ecouterre, she also handles communications for the Brooklyn Fashion & Design Accelerator. Amy also acts as a rep for sustainable designers, sits on prestigious fashion panels and anchors numerous eco-fashion events.
Leading the Ethical Fashion Forum, Tamsin has nurtured it from the beginning to its current extensive network of industry professionals. She also acts as a guide for fashion players in their efforts to balance sustainability with the bottom line. As creator of the label, Juste, Tamsin supports a fair trade supply chain for a designer line in Bangladesh. Fashioning an Ethical Industry is another of her initiatives that integrates sustainability college curricula in the UK.
Women rock. And these are just ten of them. Be brave, use your voice and inspire ethical and sustainable change with every choice, dollar and word you make, spend and say.