Women everywhere are claiming power and linking networks to restore the Earth and address climate change. They are harnessing digital media and in-person convenings to accelerate the movement, operating as an immune system to boost the Earth’s resilience.
It was that moment on stage when Jane Goodall turned to Vandana Shiva and said, “We should start working together,” and without a beat Vandana replied, “Yes, let’s!”
Watching two legends of the environmental movement linking up before my eyes was more evidence of a wider phenomenon I am increasingly witnessing around the world, and that was ever present at this week’s International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit.
It is becoming clear to me that women everywhere are taking action for the planet into their own hands. They are throwing down the gauntlet to claim power and link networks to restore the Earth and address climate change. They are harnessing digital media and in-person convenings to accelerate the movement, operating as an immune system to boost the Earth’s resilience.
This week I met with over 100 top women leaders from 35 countries, who rallied together from the island nation of Maldives to the oil-contaminated Black Sea. Activists from the scarred forests of Brazil joined with icons such as Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Jane Goodall, and Ted Turner to address our planetary emergency. Live streaming “Vision Hubs” were linked up from internet cafes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya, so that women could participate globally.
An ambitious climate action agenda was drafted during the summit, and a bold declaration was signed. The declaration includes such principles as: recognizing the rights of nature, divesting from hydrocarbon development, investing in a renewable energy revolution, gender-responsive climate change policy, and the implementation of new economic indicators that encourage sustainability.
“Today we stand on the precipice of the end of life as we know it,” said Osprey Orielle Lake, Co-Founder of the International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative. “We are putting the world on notice that we have too much at stake. We have the opportunity to fiercely fight for our children and all that we love. We are building a vibrant and accelerated women’s climate action network.”
“We are on the epicenter of a historical storm, where the actions we take here can really make THE difference,” stated Summit Co-Founder Sally Ranney. “We are a phenomenon. It’s a movement that has already begun. We are just here to fan it and accelerate it.”
Consciousness shift, connectivity, and concrete solutions were the prevailing themes, as women claimed the microphone one by one. Many of the diverse experts were armed with data and practical models, but all were unapologetic about their passion.
Carmen Capriles of Bolivia spoke movingly of witnessing the glaciers melting in her homeland, and of a Mother Earth law that has been proposed by Bolivian leaders.
Cameroonian water activist Rosemary Enie relayed the dry spells that are causing the cattle to die in the communities where she works. “We don’t need to talk about what is happening anymore. We must do action. It is now or never!”
Vandana Shiva agreed, and noted that, “The concrete solutions are the most radical ones. We need to bring climate action down from the stratosphere. The abstract has had its day.”
When asked by the audience “What is the single greatest solution for solving the planetary crisis?” Vandana Shiva chuckled. “The answer is that too many single solutions are being offered. I have seen the damages that a monoculture of the mind does. There are millions of solutions, as many solutions as people. There might be some principles we respect, such as the rights of the earth and equality of men and women. But as for the single solution worry, let us put it behind us. Let us let many solutions grow!!”
Jane Goodall left the stage with her dream: “I am hoping and praying that women can come together and heal this disconnect between the head and the heart. We need to create a world where there are two equal wings between women and men. We must find the roles for our boys as well as our girls in restoring the earth.”
Brazilian democracy leader and forest activist, Marina Silva reflected, “The whole world is now mobilizing in search of a new culture—a culture of sustainability.”
As the days wore on and I listened enraptured, I couldn’t help but recognize that the solutions are known. The world need look no further than within this network of gathered women. All we need to do is turn to them, take action, and support their declarations, along with regionally-based grassroots women across the world.
With the most at stake, millions of women—modern-day Rachel Carsons—are stepping out from the shadow of mining pits, blasted mountains, dumping grounds, and scorched forests to mobilize their communities.
These women leaders are a potent immune system for the Earth. They, and the solutions they bring, are poised to lead the environmental movement into its most formidable chapter yet.
Now it is our job to crank up the volume on these often-unheard voices, and support their linkages through communications technology, so that they can become an unstoppable, vibrant force for ecological restoration: quiet no more, loudly roaring and gushing with life.