Ten Leaders to Celebrate on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate and uplift all the powerful leaders in our lives and we are honored to share 10 incredible talks and performances from our most recent Bioneers Conference with you:

Katsi Cook

Legendary Mohawk midwife and environmental health researcher and advocate Katsi Cook illuminates her dynamic new work strengthening Indigenous communities and addressing the cultural and physical safety and thriving lives of Indigenous girls and women. As Program Director of NoVo Foundation’s Indigenous Communities Leadership Program for Indigenous Girls and Women, she’s building bridges across communities and existing networks to increase synergy in the protection of Indigenous girls and women from multiple forms of violence and oppression.

The wisdom and energy for a movement is at its edges.

Ericka Huggins

Ericka Huggins, the renowned former Black Panther, political prisoner, human rights activist – and educator, poet, and professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Merritt College in Oakland – has advocated for Restorative Justice and the role of spiritual practice in sustaining activism and promoting social change for 35 years. Grounded in her belief in the greatness of the human heart, Ericka says each one of us has the ability to look there for the answers to questions about the future of our world.

Once your heart is awakened, you can’t help but speak the truth.

Kandi Mossett, Eriel Deranger, and Tara Houska

Bioneers invited frontline activists from Standing Rock and the Alberta Tar Sands to speak about Indigenous efforts to protect water, air and other natural resources for all. These visionary leaders highlight the need for mainstream understanding of the benefits of protecting  human rights as they apply to resource extraction and Mother Earth.

It’s no coincidence that [in pregnancy] when we carry our babies, we carry them in water.

Noris Binet, Nikki Sylvestri, Pat McCabe (Woman Stands Shining)

What does it mean to bring the “feminine” forward in leadership from diverse cultural and ethnic perspectives? How might a spectrum of views help us to integrate relational intelligence into all our leadership? With poet Noris Binet; Nikki Silvestri, former Executive Director of Green for All and The People’s Grocery and Pat McCabe, or Woman Stands Shining, a Navajo teacher working on Indigenous frameworks for gender and all of life.

“Many devices have been used on the five-fingered ones to create the illusion of separation, but none has been more effective or longer running than the illusion of the war between the men and the women, and the masculine and the feminine.”

Vien Truong

Vien Truong, director of Green For All, has worked tirelessly to bring equity, social justice and climate justice to the frontlines of the environmental movement and public policy. She has been a central force in putting environmental justice at the center of California’s groundbreaking climate policy, legislation and cap-and-trade funding. Vien shares her wise perspectives on how to build a new clean-energy economy that brings prosperity and justice to low-income communities and communities of color.

This Climate Justice fight is not just a fight for a new energy system – it’s also a fight for a new economy, a new democracy, a new relationship with the planet and to each other.

Janine Benyus

Our species is finally turning toward other species for their embodied wisdom, borrowing these insights to solve challenges such as delivering nutrition in a way that nourishes both planet and people. Biomimicry author and visionary Janine Benyus shows how nature-inspired breakthroughs in agriculture are evolving from plant-focused “silver bullets” to system-savvy healing. Cooperation, naturally enough, is the best way to learn from life’s genius!

Don’t ever ask small questions.

Nina Simons

“Reclaiming Relationship & Tradition: Towards a Future that Works for All” – 2016 Bioneers Conference opening remarks by Bioneers co-founder and President Nina Simons.

Anyone who considers the practice of long-term relationship to be a soft-skill clearly has not tried it.

Climbing PoeTree

Extraordinary award-winning poets, performance activists and cultural architects Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman of Climbing PoeTree explore the network of mutuality that binds our existence through the ricochet of oppression and the reciprocity of liberation. Their art is a tool for catalyzing action, cross-pollinating solutions, getting at the root of our most pressing social and ecological issues, and reminding us that we all belong to each other.

Creativity is the antidote to destruction. It’s the opposite of the violence that divides us, a force that builds empathy across difference and awakens us to new ways of participating in the creation of the world.

Destiny Arts Center

The beloved Oakland youth dance troupe rocks the house every year.

For those of you who are parents, I want you to pledge that you will teach your son about feminism – the all inclusive feminism. And I want you to pledge to me today that you will spend this year in particular doing everything you can to remove the barriers that face us. (“The Pledge”, Alicia Garza)

Eve Ensler

Globally renowned playwright and activist Eve Ensler performs one act from her new “Fruit Trilogy”. Coconut is mesmerizing and provocative edge-walking that explores a woman’s mystical journey into her body. Eve is the creator of “The Vagina Monologues”, perhaps the most performed play in history, as well as the founder of the immensely impactful V-Day movement, which seeks to end violence against women and girls globally. As an author-artist-activist, she has fearlessly explored women’s oppression, empowerment and emancipation with unparalleled intensity and influence.

I want the power of your watching, the force of your acknowledgment – not for praise or judgment, permission or acclaim. I want to know that I am safe in the open eyes of the world.

Need more? Check out our Women’s Leadership video playlist and Everywoman’s Leadership audio playlist, and our latest International Women’s Day-inspired newsletter!

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

Our bi-weekly newsletter provides insights into the people, projects, and organizations creating lasting change in the world.