Our famous founder is one of many bold, brilliant, game-changing women at the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). From the youngest Roots & Shoots members to our global CEO, we are very lucky to have countless curious, compassionate female leaders among us. All courageously committed to creating hope in their communities for the future of our interconnected earth.
Here in Australia we have some particularly inspiring local legends. As we celebrate International Women’s Day together with our global family, this week we will showcase five of them – all tirelessly working towards this year’s theme to #BreakTheBias for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world. (We could easily have made it fifty).
From leading-edge scientists to social-justice campaigners, global law-transformers to political powerhouses, we hope you are as inspired reading about them – as we are working with them. So, let’s begin.
Vineeta Gupta: Microbiologist, Climate Leader, Campaigner & Organiser
Vineeta, or Vini, is vital in growing our Roots & Shoots youth empowerment program across Australia.
Currently the State Coordinator for Tasmania, Vini is growing our movement down south to build a community of young, empowered change makers of hope. 100% voluntarily, she’s driven by her own deep passion for environmentalism, alongside studying Microbiology at the University of Tasmania, working as a researcher and campaigning with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition plus she’s Climate Reality Leader.
Previously Vini was part of our dynamic National Youth Leadership Council training program. Every year we recruit a collective of incredible young people to learn skills, gain confidence, build networks and develop direction as future environmental leaders. As an engaged, enterprising member she was offered the long-term oppurtunitiy to build Roots & Shoots in Tasmania.
Vini has a keen interest in the cross-pollination of environmental advocacy with social justice, particularly the intersectional relationships between the environmental crisis and social inequality. In less than a year she helped host film festivals, co-developed the wellbeing program Return To Nature, increased the number of grants for Roots & Shoots projects and is now leading an ambitious advocacy campaign raising awareness about destructive Fast Fashion impacts – on animals, people and environment.
She believes that our environment is an integral part of our social well-being, and that we must do everything we can to conserve it. On days she hopes to inspire people in the same way as Dr Jane some day.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you? And why do you think it’s important?
International Women’s Day is a time of celebrating the women of our planet and letting them know that ‘they are enough’. You don’t have to be a CEO or martial arts black belt to be a strong, independent woman. You are all you ever need to be.
It’s a time to celebrate the achievements women have made around the world, starting with acknowledging our own. We often forget how important we are as individuals.
Yet, it is also a time to acknowledge that gender inequality is not something of the past. Regardless of where you live or what you do, whether you’re a female worker in the cotton industry or work in Parliament House, gender inequality chases women of all walks of life – even today.
International Women’s Day is a time of celebration, but also a time for us to look forward and assess what needs to be done to ensure a truly gender equal society.
This isn’t something only women should be thinking about; men need to stand in solidarity with women to create a future where gender inequality is truly something of the past.
Who are your top three female inspirations and why?
The three most important women in my life are:
She was the first female role model I had. She’s compassionate, caring, holds her ground and manages work-life balance with an ease I have yet to master.
Dr Marie Curie
She inspired me to pursue STEM and reminds me everyday that women can excel in any field they persue – male dominated or not. And to never give up on our dreams.
Being the 1st person to have won the Nobel Prize twice, she proved that women can be at the forefront of accomplishments and be the first at achieving something unachievable.
Dr Jane Goodall.
Jane inspires me to be hopeful everyday in a world where hope can be difficult to find. She inspires me to get up and take action for what I believe in – whether that be social and climate justice, or creating a world that’s better for those to come – for, as she says: “the greatest danger to our future is apathy.”
What advice would you give to a 10-year-old with hindsight?
Let your imagination go crazy and know that as a woman you can also soar. No matter what you decide to do, always remember that you are enough and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
There’s no such thing as a woman’s job or a man’s job, all jobs are equal.
Remember to always do what brings you joy and instills you with hope.
What is your key message to other women with similar goals this IWD?
In a time of such uncertainty, it can be difficult to focus on our goals and aspirations, particularly justice focused aspirations.
Like myself I’m sure there are others who wake up thinking what’s the point of trying and trying again when all we face is failure to be heard and taken seriously. But always remember, if we can inspire one other person to care, then one day, we’ll have inspired the world.