You probably haven’t heard of Mildred, Saadhna Meena or Rose Xaxa. You have also most likely not heard of their work in the village of Idinthakarai in Tamil Nadu, Zawar in Rajasthan and in Jharkhand’s Gumla district.
But the three women are vital figures of environmental movements in India, of a kind that some researchers and activists refer to as “environmental defenders”. They work in and with their community, and dedicate their lives to fighting corporations and the state to protect the land, forests and water around them. Inevitably, this involves a daily clash against those in power, and often puts the women at great risk.
Johanna Deeksha, Nolina Minj and Vaishnavi Rathore profiled the three activists, and sought to understand what motivated their lifelong struggles and their immense sacrifices. “These women's extraordinary commitment to protect the environment were a reminder of how very little the rest of us are doing for conservation,” the writers noted.
“Environmental defenders like them may not know what COP28 is, or be the face of global climate change platforms. But nobody understands these regions or is as devoted to these causes as the indigenous populations.”