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Earth’s Women Heroes

Did you know a book written by a woman ignited the modern-day environmental movement? Click here to find out about the book and its author.

Women play a critical role in many walks of life. Many women have achieved great things in various fields, often challenging perceptions and breaking barriers in the process. Did you know that February 11 is observed as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science? In this edition of Nature Nuggets, let’s celebrate inspiring women and girls who have contributed to the conservation of our planet and its wonderful creatures.

Jane Goodall is a renowned British primatologist whose groundbreaking studies of chimpanzees in Tanzania changed how people think about animals. A UN Messenger of Peace since 2002, Goodall is a staunch advocate for conservation and believer in hope.

  • Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental activist. She founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 to tackle environmental damage and support women’s rights in Kenya. She was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize for Peace.
  • Isatou Ceesay is known as the ‘Queen of Recycling‘ in The Gambia. She launched One Plastic Bag, a revolutionary community recycling initiative that provides hundreds of women with an additional income.

Let’s look closer to home and celebrate our homegrown women environmentalists.

  • Have you heard of the famous Chipko Movement? In 1974, Gauri Devi, the head of a women’s group at Reni village in Uttarakhand, led the village women to hug the trees and prevent loggers from chopping them down!
  • Saalumarada Thimmakka, over a hundred years old, earned the nickname ‘Vriksha Mathe’ or ‘Tree Mother’ for having planted 8000 trees in Karnataka over several years. She was awarded the Padma Shri and the National Citizen’s Award in 2019.
  • Rahibai Popere from Maharashtra is popularly known as ‘Beej Mata’ or ‘Seed Mother‘ for her work in conserving native varieties of seeds and encouraging more sustainable farming practices. She received the Padma Shri in 2020.

It’s not just grown-up women—girls too have proved themselves as worthy environmental heroes. Watch Greta Thunberg, Ridhima Pandey, and other young activists talk about what inspires them.

Common Name: Greater Adjutant
Scientific Name:Leptoptilos dubius

The Greater Adjutant is a species of stork found at wetlands and grasslands in tiny pockets of India and parts of South and Southeast Asia. It has an enormous wingspan, huge bill, and distinctive orange pouch dangling from its neck.

Assam is one of this bird’s last strongholds in India. In this state, it is locally known as ‘hargila’ or ‘bone swallower’ because it can swallow carcasses completely.

This endangered stork is under threat from pollution, the destruction of wetlands, and the loss of trees used for nesting. However, a woman named Purnima Devi Barman made it her mission to work to conserve this striking bird. She launched the Hargila Army, a self-help group of women whose families own nest trees. Watch this video to learn more about this initiative.

Time to check your Nature Quotient!

Which of the following statements about the Greater Adjutant is true?

a. It is a herbivore.
b. It builds its nests on the ground.
c. It is a scavenger.
d. It is a member of the vulture family.

Answer to be revealed in our next edition!

Previous edition answer: The correct answer is d. Ants use pheromones to communicate messages or induce behaviours in their fellow ants. For example, they mark trails with pheromones so that the ants behind them march along the same path. They also identify ants from the same nest based on their pheromones.

Congratulations to everyone who guessed it right!

In many communities, women are traditionally responsible for managing domestic tasks and the use of resources such as food, water, and fuel. This is why women play a critical role in conservation. Join the women in your family in preventing the waste of water, electricity, and food. Sewing and cooking are skills that can help the planet. Ask the women in your family for lessons in cooking healthy plant-based meals and mending clothing. Remember—we all need to do our part regardless of gender.

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