5 Female Authors Leading The Fight Against Climate Change
March 6, 2023
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s important we take the time to celebrate the work of women who are often underrepresented in the conversation around climate change. Between the intersectional perspectives they bring to the table, the resilience they demonstrate, and the creative and equitable solutions they push forward, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) women are on the front lines of the climate justice movement.
We’ve compiled a list of five essential books written by powerful BIPOC female climate activists. Each serves as an outstanding example of the pivotal role BIPOC women play in the fight against climate change. We hope you choose one or two (or all five) to learn from and share this International Women’s Day.
- As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock, by Dina Gilio-Whitaker
In As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock, Dina Gilio-Whitaker chronicles the struggles, resilience, and resistance of Indigenous people throughout America’s colonial history. Gilio-Whitaker, a journalist, educator, and descendant of the Colville Confederated Tribes, sheds light on America’s contradictions–namely, the imperialist narrative of “progress” as a catalyst for ecocide and cultural genocide of American Indians.
As Long as Grass Grows is a powerful call to action for the decolonization and indigenization of Environmental Justice. Gilio-Whitaker challenges us as readers to consider the ongoing impact of colonization in the fight for an equitable future, and emphasizes the need to center Indigenous leaders, support Indigenous sovereignty, and return land to communities. This book is an important read for anyone engaged in the environmental movement or interested in learning about the struggles and resilience of Indigenous peoples in the United States. Gilio-Whitaker is currently working on another book, but in the meantime, you can buy As Long as Grass Grows here.
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants, By Robin Wall Kimmerer
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by Potawatomi professor and botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer is an outstanding commentary on the intersection of traditional Indigenous knowledge and modern western science. The essay collection won the 2014 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award and hit the New York Times Bestseller list in 2020. Since then, Braiding Sweetgrass has surged in popularity– and for good reason, too.
The book, which Kimmerer described as “an invitation to celebrate the gifts of the earth,” illustrates the importance of Indigenous thought and practice in reimagining our relationship with the world. Inspired in large part by Kimmerer’s own experience, Braiding Sweetgrass asks us to dismantle western concepts of human superiority and approach plants, animals, and the world as our teachers rather than our inferiors. Through delicately constructed essays, Kimmerer commemorates the natural beauty of everything around us and encourages us to practice reciprocity, respect, and curiosity–values which are at the heart of many forms of Indigenous knowledge but fall to the wayside in western scientific practice. Braiding Sweetgrass has also been adapted for young adults, so anyone can enjoy Kimmerer’s words of wisdom.
- All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, Edited by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis is a powerful anthology edited by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson, the co-leaders of The All We Can Save Project. Through essays, art, and poetry, All We Can Save compiles the unique perspectives of sixty climate justice activists around the world. The book is divided into two parts: “Roots,” which explores the history of the climate crisis, its intersection with Indigenous knowledge, and its connection to other social justice issues, and “Reach,” which presents a variety of creative strategies and solutions.
By amplifying the stories of women whose voices are typically overlooked in the fight against climate change, All We Can Save offers an comprehensive and optimistic outlook on the future of the climate justice movement. As Dr. Johnson explained in a talk at Harvey Mudd College, storytelling can make the climate justice movement accessible in a way that graphs and legislation can’t–and it’s certainly true for the stories in All We Can Save.
- Unbowed, By Dr. Wangari Maathai
Everyone in the environmental justice movement should be familiar with Dr. Wangari Maathai. From being the first Central African woman to earn a doctorate, to receiving the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, Maathai’s laundry list of accolades, achievements, and publications is reflective of the powerful legacy she left on the world.
In Unbowed, she tells her story. The inspiring memoir traces Maathai’s life from her childhood in the Central Highlands of Kenya to her revolutionary activism as the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots campaign that utilized tree-planting to demonstrate women’s capacity for political power in Kenya. Her experiences are a testament to the struggles of women in male-dominated societies around the world, many of whom–like Maathai–are building community power at the intersection of environmental and social justice. Unbowed is a must-read for anyone interested in environmental justice, women’s rights, or Kenya’s history.
- We Have a Dream, By Dr. Mya-Rose Craig
We Have a Dream by Dr. Mya-Rose Craig is an inspiring celebration of thirty young climate activists around the world. Dr. Craig, a twenty-one year old British-Bangladeshi ornithologist and environmental race activist, is best known for the blog Birdgirl which she started at just eleven years old.
Well-written and beautifully illustrated, We Have a Dream illuminates the critical work being done by young activists in the fight for an equitable and sustainable future. Through the stories and experiences she compiles, Dr. Craig inspires us to take action and become part of the movement for a sustainable future. We Have a Dream also includes suggestions for readers who want to get involved in the fight for climate justice but don’t know where to start, making it an excellent resource for young people interested in joining the movement.
Take Action: Join the Fight to Diversify Climate Education
As we navigate the climate justice space, it’s incredibly important we learn from the work and experiences of everyone involved in the fight. At EARTHDAY.ORG, we believe everyone should have access to a justice-oriented climate education centered around female and BIPOC voices. This International Women’s Day, sign up for our Climate Literacy campaign to join the movement.