We are delighted to have so many women to celebrate – among our own team and international group of Advisors, and of course the many talented and inspirational women within our global network of partners and the indigenous and local communities they work with.
Today, we applaud the women who are making a real and practical contribution towards ecological and social justice, in the true spirit of Gaia. To follow are just a few names that we have picked out – their strengths and achievements are echoed by many others, and we celebrate you all!
Theo Sowa – Chief Executive Officer of the African Women’s Development Fund and a long term associate of The Gaia Foundation. Theo is a renowned advocate for the role that African women have to play in shaping the future of the continent. Last year she gave a TEDx talkand argued that if we truly want to see progress in Africa and across borders, we need to invite the millions of African women who are leading change to the table – not just the few notable African women leaders who are asked time and again.
Liz Hosken – Our founding Director and visionary, Liz, active from a young age in both environmental issues and the anti-apartheid movement. She has pioneered holistic ways of thinking and reverence for our beautiful planet, Gaia, and as founding Board Member of The Mupo Foundation she is encouraging diverse ways to restore Africa’s rich cultural, spiritual and ecological heritage. Liz is an advocate for food sovereignty and joins a chorus of leading voices against GM in our landmark 2012 film Seeds of Freedom.
Cecilia Crossley – Our Head of Operations and Finance, Cecilia, found time this past year to set up a remarkable social enterprise that benefits orphaned children in Zambia and other countries through the agency SOS Children. She is the founder of From Babies With Love, the first online store for baby’s clothing – made with organic cotton – with all the profits going to the charity. Make sure to visit Cecilia’s website: http://frombabieswithlove.com/
Wanjira Mathai – Since 2002, Wanjira has been directing International Affairs at the Green Belt Movement, which was founded by her mother – the late Wangari Maathai, Africa’s first woman Nobel Peace Laureate and Gaia Associate. Wanjira, from Kenya, is a charismatic speaker, serves on the Board of Directors of the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies – keeping alive the legacy of her mother’s work for girls and women in Africa.
Jacqueline McGlade – As Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA), Prof. McGlade has been a force in Europe for providing environmental information to policy makers and the public. During her busy career she has successfully juggled high-profile academic roles with being director of a software development company, radio/tv presenter, mother, and Gaia Associate. Jacqueline has been a speaker at one of our regular Gaia Evening events and you can still catch up on that as a podcast here.
Vandana Shiva – Eco-feminist, activist, scientist and author, Vandana is a powerhouse in exposing threats to small-scale farmers, especially women, from patents, genetically-modified seed and industrial agriculture, and how globalisation destroys local economies. She set-up the successful Navdanya movement, in India, which involves thousands of women farmers. We invite you to watch “Two Options” the story of Vandana and Bija Devi, a woman farmer, and their fight to preserve heirloom seeds in India amidst great opposition. http://seedfreedom.in/
Kechinu Legesse – A peasant farmer in the village of Telecho, in Ethiopia, Kechinu is one of the seed savers who have been supported by our partner organization MELCA-Mahiber. Using eco-cultural mapping and calendars, Kechinu and others in the community charted the loss of culture, forests, fertile soils and seed diversity in their region – and are now taking steps to return to their traditional seed diversity. “We prefer our local seeds for the taste, flavour and good return of the food. Our seeds are vital in our life.” Read her full story and other women seed keepers stories on the Seeds of Freedom website.
VhoMakhadzi Joyce Vhutanda – As a Makhadzi – a traditional role for VhaVenda women, in northern South Africa – she is leading a remarkable initiative to revive indigenous seed, especially millet. “Our indigenous seed, Mbeu, is very important to us… especially as we see the climate changing. We must revive our indigenous seeds and pass on our knowledge to the young people, so they can deal with the challenges they will face.” Read her full story and other women seed keepers stories on the Seeds of Freedom website.
Lara Lutzenberger – Biologist, environmentalist and TV personality, Lara has taken on the legacy of her late father, José Lutzenberger – the “father” of Brazil’s environmental movement, and one of Gaia’s first Associates – and continues to promote his ideals in southern Brazil. She successfully heads-up Fundacao Gaia in Porto Alegre, a dynamic centre for environmental education and promoting organic and regenerative farming techniques.
Dzomo la Mupo – Meaning ‘Voices of the Earth’, Dzomo la Mupo is a community based organisation established in 2007 to raise the voices of the traditional vhaVenda people, and particularly the women. Makhadzi, or rainmakers as they are known locally, are the women custodians of the Sacred Natural Sites which make up a network of biodiversity rich areas within their wider ecosystem. Over the past year or more Dzomo la Mupo have been challenging CoAL of Africa who propose to open a coal mine which will dessimate the water of the region. Find out more about their battle against a mining giant and about the culture which their practice and belief system eminates from.