A Conservation Celebration of International Women’s Day
Each year, we dedicate March 8th to celebrate, honour, and appreciate women for International Women’s Day. We devote a day to recognizing the contributions of women to politics, literature, the arts, science, technology, medicine, and perhaps above all, we take the opportunity to tell the women in our lives how important they are to us.
As we look around our personal and professional communities, we find women who advanced our thinking and paved the way for so many important achievements throughout history. We also need to ensure that we celebrate the ideas and efforts of women who are doing the work right now and every day throughout the year. Let’s be sure we reach out to them and recognize their efforts as they are happening.
So, for this International Women’s Day, I want to draw some attention to women in the outdoors communities who I admire and whose work and contributions I appreciate. I’m grateful for so many women hunters, anglers, outdoorspeople, scientists, and conservationists who are contributing to ensuring we have a future world with healthy wildlife, wild places, and a positive and inclusive human outdoors community.
Here are a some women whose work in literature, social media platforms, and the arts I think everyone should check out and appreciate.
I buy books far faster than I read them and I surround myself with ideas that inform my hunting and conservation, sometimes directly by teaching me about the lives of octopuses and environmental contaminants, and sometimes indirectly by introducing me to new ways of thinking about the natural world and ways to apply new concepts to better understand hunting ethics. Here are three books that have inspired my approach to conservation recently, including science, politics, and fiction.
Andrea Wulf – The Invention of Nature
In The Invention of Nature, Andrea Wulf takes us on the travels of the 19th century German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. It is a moving biography of Humboldt’s life, work, and vision for nature. Humboldt worked at a time when science and art were closely connected. He was an artist, poet, and one of history’s most influential thinkers about nature. Andrea Wulf’s account of Humboldt’s life is sensitive, fascinating, and reminds us of a view of nature that is deeply personal and celebrates the interconnectedness of the world’s biodiversity. It is one of my favourite books and re-inspired my perspective about how we study and connect with nature.
Winona LaDuke – All Our Relations
I first read Winona LaDuke while completing my undergraduate degree and her writing quite literally changed my life. Her approach to environmentalism, Indigenous rights, and politics stands as an example of the connections between human and ecological wellbeing. Winona LaDuke is an Indigenous environmental activist, speaker, and author. All Our Relations is a collection of essays and accounts of environmental movements in North America that are bound together by the efforts of the Indigenous communities and leaders who have worked to protect lands, waters, and the cultures that depend on them. It is inspiring and instructive to conservationists who are looking for strong examples of dedication to the natural world and our place within in.
Delia Owens – Where the Crawdad’s Sing
Delia Owens is a scientist who has studied lions, hyenas, and elephants throughout Africa. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel and it is a poignant and beautiful celebration of nature and coming to intimately know both place and one’s relationship to a place. As conservationists, we often focus so intensely on threats to wildlife and the environment and it is helpful to remind ourselves that we also need to take time to be inspired and moved by the prose that nature inspires. In a world that often celebrates widespread travel and adventure, Delia Owens reminds us that we also need to pause to notice the gulls, seashells, mushrooms, and intricate flowers and grasses in our immediate surroundings.
As Andrea Wulf reminded us in The Invention of Nature, the history of conservation thinking and the wider conservation movement is a story of the interaction between art and science. I enjoy learning about biology and science, and sometimes the best way to do that is by engaging with creative elements of our learning. Here are three people who create different types of art that are connected to conservation.
Kelsey Johnson – Visual
I came across Kelsey’s work through her Instagram account, @k_raejohns. She produces some truly mesmerizing drawings and paintings of wildlife, sweeping landscapes, and people who interact closely with nature. She sells both originals and prints and her work is unique, personal, and beautiful.
S.A. Leger – Poetry
Many of us who grow up inspired by nature find ways to connect our scientific and creative passions. As a biologist who has studied wildlife from Tasmania to Puget Sound to Newfoundland, Leger’s poetry reflects both a deep knowledge of landscapes and intimate relationships with their beauty and power. Her poetry has been published in numerous print and online platforms and tells stories of people who have known and felt both life and the raw natural elements. She also taught me how to identify six different species of gulls and appreciate the beautiful differences between them.
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril – Film
Alethea Anarquq-Baril is an Inuk filmmaker widely known for her film Angry Inuk, which speaks to Inuit hunters, seamstresses, youth, Elders, and activists who work to celebrate the role of seal hunting in Inuit culture. The film breaks down stereotypes and false dichotomies in how the international media, politicians, and the animal rights movement portrays seal hunting. The film is a powerful and patient representation of the relationships between Inuit and seals and the biocultural values of a truly remarkable group of marine mammals.
As with many of us, I rely on social media to find and connect with people working in the conservation world. If you don’t see the faces and work of dedicated and inspirational women and women’s platforms when you log in to social media, do yourself a favour and check out some of these accounts.
Artemis Sportswomen – @artemis_sportswomen
“Women protecting sporting traditions, supporting women as leaders in the conservation movement, & fostering the next generation of conservationists.”
United Women on the Fly – @unitedwomenonthefly
“Building an inclusive community that educates, provides resources, encourages and connects anglers around the globe!”
Brown Girl Outdoor World – @browngirloutdoorworld
“Changing the Narrative Through Adventure.”
WildHERness – @_wildherness_
“Empowering female conservationists by means of outdoor adventures, community service & mentorship.”
Anchored Outdoors – @anchored_outdoors
“An ever-growing educational resource of Fish, Forage, Hunt & Homestead experts. Inspired by @aprilvokey.”
For International Women’s Day 2021, organizations and individuals are encouraged to challenge the status quo and current state of sexism in the world. As we recognize, thank, and celebrate women in our lives and leaders in the world, we also need to engage in efforts to change narratives and structures that contribute to inequality and reinforce patriarchal systems.
“We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.”International Women’s Day
As members of the hunting, angling, outdoors, and conservation communities, we can make our world stronger and more inclusive. We can choose to challenge the historical narratives of hunting and conservation that have celebrated men and often ignored the incredible contributions of women. We can choose to challenge sexism that still exists in the interactions and stereotypes in the outdoors.
Ultimately, we can also choose to read, watch, see, and listen to the voices of women in the outdoors. We can choose to recognize and celebrate their contributions and the unique perspectives they bring to conservation.
Cover Image: Winona LaDuke