Our Bold Female Heroes
March 8th, we commemorate International Women's Day and celebrate the many achievements women continuously bring to the world - social, economic, scientific, political, cultural, and environmental. Though the world tries to get us down and we feel tested, amazing women remain steadfast and do everything in their scope to make the world a better and fairer place.
We celebrate International Women's Day throughout March, and we want to mark the occasion by highlighting three inspirational female leaders who influence us and millions of others in the world.
Melati & Isabel Wijsen
In 2014, Melati and Isabel Wijsen were 12 and 10 years old girls when they started a campaign to prohibit plastic bags, going so far as threatening to go on a hunger strike to gain the attention of Bali's governor. The Bye Bye Plastic Bags campaign was born out of their desire to organise petitions, awareness campaigns, and large-scale beach clean-ups. Melati recalls swimming in the waves of her home beach and emerging with a plastic bag wrapped around her arm. Determined to make a difference, they launched the island's and country's most significant "Children Driven Action" campaign.
Growing up, the sisters witnessed firsthand how plastic was destroying Bali, their island home and a worldwide popular vacation destination. They began their journey by focusing on the growing plastic problem in their local area. Isabel recalls hanging out on the beach with friends for what was intended to be a playful day in the sea but turned out to be surrounded by trash and a plastic bag wrapped around her legs, as seen in a video to World Economic Forum. "It demonstrated how plastic was suffocating us all of the time," Isabel said.
Their advocacy efforts finally paid off in 2018, when the Bali government outlawed all single-use plastics after collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition to rid the island of single-use plastic bags. Fast forward 8 years later, the Wijsen sisters are Bali's local heroes and received international attention for their campaign, resulting in the prohibition of plastic bags, plastic straws, and other single-use plastic utensils across the island.
Young, bold, and outspoken: Greta Thunberg is a climate activist who, at 16 years old, graced Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2019. She's known as the voice of the new generation and her unfiltered truths on the threat of climate change.
Greta first learned about climate change when she was 11 years old, the topic had a profound effect on her, and she knew action was needed. The first step was to persuade her family to eat less meat, establish a garden, and avoid flying. Then in August 2018, she skipped school to protest outside the Swedish Parliament alone, armed with a handmade banner stating "School Strike for Climate," demanding the Swedish government to reduce carbon emission. Greta's bold solo act attracted international attention, and her climate strike has gained 10 million followers worldwide, urging world leaders to take action to stop climate change.
Greta Thunberg is determined not to let her Asperger's Syndrome get in the way of making her voice be heard and inspiring the world leaders to act against climate emergencies. She's unapologetically authentic in exposing the hypocrisy among lawmakers regarding how they tackle climate issues. In 2019, she sailed to New York (she gave up flying) to attend the UN climate conference and delivered her famous speech.
"You come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words." - Greta Thunberg.
Greta made it clear to legislators that the younger generations demand bold action against climate change, the most significant threat to their future. Over 30 years of scientific research points to a catastrophic extinction if we fail to take immediate action. Greta's passion and bold steps are precisely what the world needs.
The Norwegian doctor and environmentalist, Dr. Gunhild Stordalen, has brought much-needed attention and change to the global food system. She is a driving force behind transforming the global food system and has linked the issues of climate, health, and sustainability. Dr. Gunhild Stordalen states the nutrition community can learn much from the climate change movement.
With her husband Petter A. Stordalenm, Gunhild founded the Stordalen Foundation in 2011 to assist organisations working in health, development, animal welfare, and environmental preservation. Gunhild spearheaded the EAT-Lancet study built on a straightforward premise: we can feed our rising population nutritious food while preserving the environment.
In 2020, the United Nations asked her to play a vital role in the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit by identifying ideas for shifting to more sustainable consumption habits. Gunhild and her company, EAT, are tasked with improving the way we eat and reducing food waste. Meat, particularly red meat, is one of several elements contributing to climate change.
Gunhild's initiatives on sustainable food systems have inspired millions of people to rethink their local carbon footprint. People are discovering ways to improve their sustainable food purchases. We don't have a 'Planet B'; there is no second option. We have the Earth. Gunhild's aim of changing the way we consume food and its waste is no easy task; her commitment is admirable and worthy of praise.