The Power of She: Women Leading the Fight Against Climate Change

As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we can reflect on the monumental strides made by courageous women throughout history, but also take time to confront the persistent systems that continue to undermine women’s security and well-being. It is an undeniable fact that climate change is not just an environmental issue but a matter of human rights, exacerbating social inequalities, and disproportionately affecting women worldwide.

The intersection of gender and climate challenges is stark, revealing a world where women, especially those in the world’s most economically marginalized communities, are on the frontline of climate impacts. Their unique experiences and insights are invaluable in crafting effective responses to natural disasters, managing essential resources, and spearheading sustainable solutions. Yet, their participation in climate-related decision-making remains stagnantly low. As Canopy’s Executive Director, Nicole Rycroft aptly points out, “until significantly more women are in decision-making positions, we’ve tied one hand behind our back as Spaceship Earth falters.”

At Canopy, our mission is deeply ingrained in the legacy of women’s leadership, boundless creativity, and innovative gusto. Guided by Nicole, and our predominantly women-led team, we stand firm on the principles of equity, justice, and sustainability. Nicole reminds us that our ENGO, with a team that is 85% women, draws strength from the trailblazers who have faced and overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. This strength is crucial as we navigate the complexities of climate change — a crisis that demands an all-hands-on-deck approach, yet one that sees women historically under-represented in crucial decision-making roles.

Nicole’s perspective is a testament to the power of collaborative leadership and the necessity of fostering pre-competitive spaces for the common good. Through strategic efforts, women across various sectors are transforming entrenched economic and political dynamics, revolutionizing unsustainable supply chains, and championing ambitious, community-led conservation efforts. 

Canopy is proud to collaborate with many incredible women including: Farwiza Farhan, founder and leader of Forest, Nature and Environment Aceh (HAkA), which is striving to protect the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia; Wanjira Mathai from World Resources Institute and one of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ of 2023; Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty, the first woman to be elected Grand Chief of the Cree Nation; and renowned author and professor of forest ecology, Dr. Suzanne Simard. The work of these remarkable women is not just about addressing climate change but about building a more equitable, sustainable world for future generations.

On International Women’s Day, and every day, we honour the achievements of women like these, leading the charge in climate action. Let’s also dare to dream bigger, recognizing that a livable climate is a fundamental human right. By ensuring the active participation and leadership of women in this global endeavour, we can unlock innovative solutions, foster greater resilience, and drive forward towards a just, vibrant, and liveable future for all.

Feeling inspired? Dive deeper into the incredible stories of change and empowerment with Canopy’s Founder and Executive Director, Nicole Rycroft, as she engages in insightful conversations with leaders and changemakers driving climate action on our YouTube channel. Join us for Tree Talks or subscribe now at: https://www.youtube.com/@canopycanopee