Women in Conservation: International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and March is Women’s History Month! In honor of these events, SCI Foundation would like to recognize the achievements and contributions of distinguished women to conservation.


One of the very first conservation organizations was founded by two women. In 1896, Harriet Hemenway and Mina Hall created the Massachusetts Audubon Society in response to concerns over the impact on bird species from the excess plumage used in making the style of women’s hats of the day . This tea group would later grow into the Audubon Society, now a leader in bird and wildlife conservation.

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Rachel Carson, author of the 1962 book Silent Spring, is widely attributed with igniting the early environmental movement and raising public awareness on pesticide use. Her book would ultimately lead to the ban of DDT and subsequent recovery of many bird species, including our national bird the bald eagle.

Another distinguished woman in conservation is Margaret “Mardy” Murie, considered the “Grandmother of Conservation” for her role in advocating for the passing of the 1964 Wilderness Act and the creation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In 1993, Mollie Beattie was appointed the first female Director of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, playing an integral role in environmental legislation such as the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act. During her tenure in office, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone and 15 new wildlife refuges were established.

Mollie Beattie. USFWS

More recently, founder of the Green Belt Movement and Kenya native, Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts on environmental conservation and women’s rights.

Women’s rights and education are important factors in the conservation of wildlife in developing areas. The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, an all-female unit and first of its kind, patrols the Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa. Their efforts are helping to defend local rhino populations from poachers.

Four women of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit

Women everywhere make great sacrifices for conservation. Just last week, the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner, Berta Cáceres was murdered after defending the Gualcarque River from development of a destructive dam in Honduras. She was an environmental hero for her indigenous community. A female forest ranger in Cameroon, Mary Ashu, fearlessly returned to duty after being beaten, kidnapped and held for ransom on the job back in 2008. Incredible stories like these, remind us that women are putting their lives on the line for conservation all over the world.

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In Cameroon, women make special dresses to celebrate International Women’s Day

Today, women are the fastest growing hunting and fishing demographic in the country! Help SCI Foundation in recognizing all that these #ConservationWomen have done and everything women around the world do for wildlife.


Twice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more SCI Foundation news.

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