The power of women is undeniable; together we have the ability to create change, rewrite the rules and forge a sustainable future. This International Women’s Day we come together with one unified voice to recognise and amplify the important role women and girls around the world play in addressing climate change. The theme for 2022 is ‘Changing Climates: Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’ and after the devastating floods that ravished our beautiful community here in the Northern Rivers, this theme couldn’t be closer to our hearts.

Gendered norms and ideas of what a woman’s role should be in society often mean that women and girls experience the impacts of climate change and natural disasters differently. Yet in spite of this, their voices are frequently side-lined when it comes to developing solutions to the climate crisis – with 67% of all climate-related decision-making roles currently held by men. The climate crisis cannot be fixed by one, it requires us all to come together because there is incredible strength in solidarity.

Today, we want to highlight the incredible work of Danish conservationist, Lone Drøscher Nielsen. Founder of the world's largest primate rescue project, Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Project and co-founder of the Orangutan Land Trust, Nielsen has saved over 1000 orangutans. After hearing about the inspiring work Lone was doing 6 years ago, we felt that we had to get involved. Since then, through 1% For The Planet, we have continued to support Lone and the Orangutan Land Trust. Once Lone had seen the devastation caused by the destruction of orangutan habitats for the purpose of palm oil, she couldn’t ignore it. She quit her job in Denmark and moved to Borneo to create a sanctuary for young orangutans left motherless. After seeing what Lone had achieved and her commitment to these beautiful animals, we just had to get involved and support her in any way we could.

"The first time I looked into the eyes of a motherless young orangutan, I noticed the complete lack of zest for life. At the same time, I witnessed the massive destruction of the rainforest which made the orangutans extremely vulnerable to humans. I decided that I should be the voice of the orangutans and fight for them in a world where they apparently seem to be forgotten." - Lone Drøscher Nielsen

Lone is not alone in this endeavour; she is supported by a group of local women known as the ‘babysitters’ who care for and train the orangutans. When learning to climb the babysitters who care for and train the orangutans as if they were their own children. These amazing women often join the trust having never seen an orangutan and receive on the ground training.

So, today on IWD we celebrate Lone & her team of babysitters and we celebrate ALL women: trans, cis, non-binary and gender non-conforming. We acknowledge the incredible women before us that have fought so hard to make this day a possibility and we look back at all we have achieved and will continue to achieve until both equality and a healthy climate are a fundamental part of society.

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