COP26 highlighted how much still needs to be done to combat climate change. Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg is a well-known voice in this fight, however, she is not alone. Here are more inspiring female activists from around the world fighting climate change
by Rachel Johnson | 14 Mar, 2023
It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure. It should be obvious that we cannot solve the crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place.
Vanessa Nakate, Uganda
Vanessa Nakate first became interested in climate activism after she began to worry about the rising temperatures in her home country of Uganda. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, Vanessa became the first Fridays for Future activist in Uganda and also founded the Rise up Climate Movement. The Rise up Climate Movement fights to make African activist voices heard. In addition to raising awareness by speaking at events like COP26, Vanessa is also very hands on in her work. She led the Congo rainforest campaign to save it from deforestation and is also working to put solar powered stoves into schools.
How can we eradicate poverty without looking at this crisis? How can we achieve zero hunger if climate change is leaving millions of people with nothing to eat? We are going to see disaster after disaster, challenge after challenge, suffering after suffering…if nothing is done about this.
Ayakha Melithafa, South Africa
South Africa’s Ayakha Melithafa, at just 21 years old, has already left behind an impressive legacy. In 2019, she was one of 16 young people to go to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to file a complaint on failing to tackle the climate crisis. Living on her family farm, Ayakha has experienced first-hand the devastating effects that climate change is reaping. Her aim is to let the voices of the women who work on these farms be better heard.
Read more on Ayakha Melithafa’s petition to the United Nations Committee here.
It is very important for poor people and people of colour to go to these protests and marches because they are feeling the wrath of climate change the most. It is important for them to have a say, for their voice and their demands to be heard.
Alexandria Villaseñor, United States
American teenager Alexandria Villaseñor is another leading figure of the Fridays for Future movement and sister in arms to Greta Thunberg. Alexandria may only be 17, but she has already founded Earth Uprising, a group of young people working to save the planet. She also co-founded the US Youth Climate Strike and, like Ayakha Melithafa, is one of 16 children petitioning the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. What really angers Alexandria is that the power to change policies surrounding climate change is only given to a select few. She is hoping to correct this imbalance.
Find out more about Alexandria’s group, Earth Uprising, here.
When you get really, really close to the #COP26 negotiations and outcome, you can see that power is held by only a few world leaders, who have been bought, and paid for entirely by the fossil fuel industry.
DID YOU KNOW: Greta Thunberg is a distant relative of Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner Svante Arrhenius. Arrhenius was the first scientist to assert that carbon dioxide caused the greenhouse effect in 1896.
Milou Albrecht, Australia
Milou Albrecht is an Australian teenager fighting hard to protect the climate. Milou grew up in an eco-friendly community where environmental protests were normal. When she was just 15 years old, with two of her friends Harriet O’Shea Carre and Nimowei Johnson, co-founded School Strike for Climate Australia. The group is pressuring the government and companies to do more to stop the bush fires that often rage across Australia.
See what Milou Albrecht and School Strike for Climate Australia are up to next here.
Climate change doesn’t only affect our environment. It affects our physical and mental wellbeing.
Catalina Santelices Brunel, Chile
Co-founder of Latinas for Climate, Catalina Santelices Brunel, may be young but she has quite the voice. Tired of the global south being left out of climate discussions, Catalina is making every effort to change that and give more attention to Afro-descendant and Indigenous women’s voices. She believes young women’s leadership to be one of the best solutions for fighting man-made climate change.
Check out Catalina’s group Latinas for Climate here.
The only way to make solutions that really have a positive impact in their [affected people’s] lives is by considering their ideas and worries around the topic, and include them in every possible space.
Catalina Santelices Brunel
Patricia Wattimena, Indonesia
Patricia Wattimena is letting her voice be heard all the way from Indonesia. Patricia is a climate justice program officer of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD). Having grown up in an indigenous community, she has seen firsthand the effects of climate change on her country. Unfortunately, Patricia’s voice is often a rare one at climate negotiations. Her main mission is letting the stories of women, especially those from rural and Indigenous communities be better heard and received.
Watch Patricia’s impactful speech at the 2020 UN Climate Dialogues here.
These climate negotiations have failed to ensure meaningful participation of grassroots women from the global south, ignoring the intersecting crises we are facing.
DID YOU KNOW: Before every speech she gives, Greta Thunberg makes sure to have each one carefully fact checked by scientists.
More young female climate activists to check out: Isra Hirsi, XiYe Bastida, Jamie Margolin, Leah Namugerwa, Amariyanna Copeny, Pronto Breslin, Jayden Foytlin