Five for Friday: Five women that changed history

March is Women’s History Month, and we here at My Wonderful World would like to talk about five women who have made significant advancements in the world. The Library of Congress has designated the theme of this year’s Woman’s History Month “women taking the lead to save our planet,” which of course dovetails nicely with our overall themes of geographic and environmental awareness here at MWW.

800px-Sylvia_Earle-nur07563.jpg1. Sylvia Earle

Called “Her Deepness” by the New Yorker and the New York Times, “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, and the first “Hero for the Planet,” Sylvia is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer with experience as a field research scientist. As the first female chief scientist at NOAA, she pioneered many firsts in the world of oceanography. Recently, she released Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas along with Linda K. Glover, which showcases the 70% of the planet that people don’t tend to think about–the ocean.

2. Rachel Carson
Perhaps best known for her groundbreaking 1962 publication Silent Spring, Rachel Carson forever changed the way we view the world. She stressed that humans are but just one part of the world’s ecosystem, and that we must learn to live in harmony with the rest of nature. Her life’s work helped catalyze the Congressional ban on the toxic pesticide DDT and, eventually, the cessation of its use worldwide.

Lois.jpg3. Lois Marie Gibbs

When Lois Gibbs, a NY housewife, discovered that her seven-year-old
son’s elementary school was built on top of a toxic waste dump, she was
understandably upset–then she found out that her entire neighborhood
was situated on the same dump. It was what she did in response that
made her a hero in the environmental movement: with no prior grassroots
activism experience, she led her community in a battle against the
local, state, and eventually federal governments. In the end, her
perseverance paid off and 833 families were evacuated out of the Love
Canal neighborhood, an event that paved the way for the creation of the
EPA’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability
Act, otherwise known as the Superfund.

More about Lois’s story here

4. Jane Goodall

A young Jane Goodall went to Africa to study chimpanzees and soon
became their leading crusader. Her research work expanded to include
numerous conservation efforts in Africa and worldwide. Her global
nonprofit institute empowers people to make a difference for all living
things by creating healthy ecosystems, promoting sustainable
livelihoods and nurturing new generations of committed, active

Wangari_Maathai_potrait_by_Martin_Rowe.jpg5. Wangari Maathai

In 2004, Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to ever receive
the Nobel Peace Prize, which she was awarded for founding the Green
Belt movement. Green Belt focuses on battling deforestation in Kenya
through organizing mostly village women to plant trees, fight soil
erosion and water pollution, and provide firewood and income for their

Sources: Library of Congress, National Geographic, Pollution Issues

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