5 Indian Women Environmental Activists

Those that work to improve our environment are known as environmentalists. When the average person would prefer to go to sleep quietly and take care of himself, these are the folks who have lobbied for environmental preservation. These people have dedicated themselves to a cause bigger than themselves. They have helped us and the environment by preserving it. How many can we genuinely name, though? How many Indian women are you familiar with that work on conserving the environment? Despite being few, they are valuable.

The following is a list of notable Indian women environmentalists.

1. Kinkri Devi

Kinkri Devi
Image source: feminisminindia.com

Environmentalist Kinkri Devi from Himachal Pradesh opposed limestone extraction in the Sirmaur district. After observing the severe environmental harm caused by quarrying, Kinkri Devi made the decision to speak out and sue the mine owners. Her tale is told here.

Kinkri Devi came from a low-income family. She began working as a servant when she was young; her father was a subsistence farmer. Despite not being able to read or write, she was the one who informed the public about the environment and highlighted issues regarding the repercussions of unregulated mining.

In Sirmaur region, limestone quarrying was a significant industry, particularly following the 1985 forced closure of Doon Valley quarries. Water sources were contaminated, agricultural land was degraded, and woodland areas were reduced as a result of extensive quarrying. Kinkri Devi, who was never given the chance to receive a formal education, spoke out and was a major factor in raising awareness about environmental issues related to quarrying.

She began her battle by raising consciousness locally. And ultimately, in 1987, she petitioned the Shimla High Court with the help of a neighborhood nonprofit organization called People’s Action for People in Need. The lawsuit was brought against 48 mine owners for negligent limestone quarrying. She traveled to Shimla and went on a 19-day hunger strike in front of the court after receiving no response to her PIL. She prevailed in her battle, and the court ordered a complete prohibition on mining and a moratorium on hill blasting.

2. Tulsi Gowda

Tulsi Gowda
Image source: wikipedia.com

Gowda is from a low-income household and is an indigenous member of the Halakki tribe in Karnataka. Despite not having any formal education, the 72-year-old is well-known as the “Encyclopedia of the Forest”. This is a result of her vast knowledge of several plant and herb species.

Gowda has taken care of and planted hundreds of trees since she was 12 years old, and she later teamed up with the forest department as a temporary volunteer. She received recognition for her commitment to the preservation of nature there. Later, she received an offer for a permanent position in the division.

To promote the value of environmental protection, Gowda, who is 78 years old, still takes care of plants and imparts her extensive expertise about them to the next generation.

3. Gaura Devi

Gaura Devi
Image source: himalayanbuzz.com

Gaura Devi, who rallied the women to hug the trees and forbid their chopping, launched the Chipko movement in 1974. At the Reni village, she served as the leader of the Mahila Mangal Dal. Gaura Devi organized 27 ladies to confront the lumbermen on the day they were scheduled to cut the trees. She initially attempted to dissuade them, but the lumbermen quickly turned to verbal abuse and threats. In order to prevent the trees from being cut down, the women decided to hug them.

4. Medha Patkar

Medha Patkar
Image source: wikipedia.com

She is a well-known environmentalist who has been actively involved in the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), a potent public movement that opposes the building of a sizable dam on the Narmada River. A multi-crore project, the projected Sardar Sarovar Dam would have forced more than 320,000 people to relocate. The fact that the locals were unaware of the initiative further worried Medha Patkar. In 1989, she founded the NBA, and she has been active ever since. She tried fasting multiple times as a nonviolent form of protest. Consequently, NBA has raised public awareness. Along with Anna Hazare, she has participated in anti-corruption demonstrations.

5. Maneka Gandhi

Maneka Gandhi
Image source: newindianexpress.com

Maneka Gandhi is a prominent advocate for animal rights and the environment. She established People for Animals in 1994, which is now India’s largest organization for animal protection. She adhered to the principles of ahimsa and thought that India need a movement to put an end to the abuse of animals. She so served as the host of the television program “Heads and Tails” and wrote a book with the same name. She currently serves as the chair of the International Energy Globe Foundation jury, which selects the year’s top environmental inventions.


As women’s roles are now acknowledged in all fields, it is necessary to acknowledge their roles in ecology management in order to encourage more women to actively participate. Because women in rural regions have stronger ties to conservation and natural resources than males do. They frequently interact with natural resources such as land, water, forests, and wildlife because of their traditional gender roles. Women’s contributions are seen to improve rule compliance and increase transparency in all fields of endeavor. Even better dispute resolution and improved observance result from it.

Written by Ansh Shokeen

34 thoughts on “5 Indian Women Environmental Activists”

  1. Avatar

    Women have always been on the forefront to save the environment, though their efforts never make the headlines for all the obvious reasons. These are just a few names from the pool of thousands and lakhs of women who are doing their bit for the mother nature. Entire communities, like that of Bishnoi women, have devoted a better part of their lives and humongous efforts to ensure co-existence in nature.

    Ansh Shokeen, thank you for shedding light on these unknown warriors. The way you have put your thoughts and their efforts into words is commendable. We need more such pieces to give these women the recognition that they deserve.

    Hope you will continue to write articles like this and motivate other women to join the efforts to save our Mother Earth.

  2. Avatar

    When these great ladies have fought their way up for environment then why can’t we do the bare minimum to protect it. Even if we don’t contribute for its betterment, let’s not be a part for its damage.

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