International Women’s Day 2021

Compiled by Danielle Shaw

Today, people from around the globe are coming together to celebrate International Women’s Day. It brings an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. UK Youth for Nature would like to take this opportunity to amplify the voices of some of the conservationists and campaigners in our network, celebrate the people who inspire them, and share some tips for getting involved in the environmental sector.

Morgan Guthrie

Who inspires you?

Mya-Rose Craig inspires me because she set up her own organisation, Black2Nature, to increase engagement of VME communities in the UK with nature. She works incredibly hard to ensure her work is accessible through education and that it intersects with social justice and health and wellbeing. Also, Mikaela Loach and her work as a social justice and environmental activist is inspiring as she campaigns for intersectional action and justice in the climate sphere.

Do you have any advice for working in the environmental sector?

The environmental sector can seem extremely daunting at first, with so many different elements to the sector. A good way to enter the sector is to decide what you are most interested in and then research organisations and groups, local or national, that work in this area that you can join. Volunteering is a great way to start and can lead to lots of new opportunities, contacts, experiences and skills. If you don’t find the kind of organisation you want to join, then start it! You will find so many people who share your passion. Also following people on social media who work in these fields or are environmental activists is beneficial as they may share resources, opportunities and tips that could help you!

Monica Kaur Bhatia

What motivated you to volunteer in conservation?

A lifelong admiration for the outdoors – as simple as it sounds, the beautiful colours paired with the feeling of fresh clean air was enough to convince me of how sacred nature was, and since then all I have wanted to do is protect it. My current environmental position includes blog/journal writing about nature on land and in the oceans, paired with some photography and social media advocacy – and also studying to hopefully take zoology at university!

Who inspires you?

Marine biologist Asha De Vos; her recent appearance as a key voice on David Attenborough’s A Perfect Planet was my first time seeing a South Asian woman like myself on TV doing exactly what I aim to do in my future, and therefore made me believe that I could succeed in this field.

Do you have any advice for working in the environmental sector?

If I could give any advice to young women wanting to work with the environment, I’d have to say put yourself out there; email every youth group you can find, DM all of the conservationists you look up to and establish relationships with people who can support you, and see how many doors open up!

Talia Goldman

Tell us about your current environmental position.

By day I’m the Sustainability Officer for a food packaging company, and by night (and most days) I’m the Co-Director for UK Youth for Nature. Joining UKY4N was my way of taking ownership of my deep, deep desire to move into the more wildlife-centred world of nature protection. Volunteering with UKY4N became a platform from which I could work out where my skills were best valued and an incredible moment to work with people who care just as much as I do, from a complete mix of academic and personal backgrounds. It has also shown me how far persistence can get you. After pouring my heart, soul, and rigorous Excel organisational skills into the movement, I became Co-Director after about 6 months. Taking the plunge into volunteering continues to motivate me in my professional career – it’s definitely not a question of one or the other.

Do you have any advice for working in the environmental sector?

You don’t have to be a scientist to pursue a career in nature protection and wildlife conservation. This is a myth that I long assumed to be true, as I tried to change field after graduating from my BA in French and Russian in 2017. It sometimes still feels a bit silly to write that down, or to say it out loud, but it’s a reminder that I still need. The environmental field is so huge and it’s one that needs a whole range of skills and expertise, if we’re going to have any long-term, positive impact on the planet and people’s attitudes towards nature. There is absolutely space for everyone, from any background and with any interest – it’s just about taking that first step, keeping your love of nature and desire to work in the field at the heart of everything you do, and slowly and surely finding out where you can best contribute.

Danielle Shaw

Who inspires you?

Caroline Lucas. Having supportive and proactive politicians is so important if we are to make a difference for people and the planet. Caroline may be the only Green MP, but her voice on matters of the environment and social justice is strong and effective. She is an inspiration to me as she is a shining example of working hard and standing up for what you believe in.

Do you have any advice for working in the environmental sector?

In the past I was made to feel that to be considered a ‘conservationist’, I had to be working towards a PhD or be out in the field doing research. This is untrue, and I am much happier since pursuing a role in communications that I actually enjoy and am good at. Research is obviously a vital part of conservation and should be celebrated, but if we are to make a real difference, we need people in lots of other roles, such as photographers, lawyers, politicians, artists, campaigners, and journalists, just to name a few! So follow your passion and use your unique talent, not only will you enjoy it more but you’re more likely to work harder and make a difference too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: