This International Women’s Day we celebrate the women of Global Witness and learn about the women who have inspired their work in climate action. 


Rachel Cox - Campaign Lead, Land and Environmental Defenders

Veronica “Derek” Cabe is a land and environmental defender in the Philippines and coordinator of the Nuclear and Coal-Free Bataan Movement (NCFBM), who has worked tirelessly to end coal use and other dirty energy sources in the Philippines.  

Living in one of the world's most climate vulnerable countries, Derek has first-hand experience of the devastation caused by rapid climate change. Over a decade ago, she was forced to rebuild her home after it was damaged by floodwaters - almost 18 metres high. Since then, she has become a tireless campaigner for the rights of communities in Bataan, home to several coal-fired power plants and national energy projects.  

This is dangerous work. In 2016, her friend and fellow activist, Gloria Capitan, was murdered after leading her local community to protest a coal storage unit. In that time, 197 defenders have been killed in the Philippines according to Global Witness.  

Despite the threat, Derek has persisted with her work and achieved some remarkable wins for the climate movement. Following a substantive campaign by NCFBM, Greenpeace and other environmental organisations, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights concluded in 2022 that the biggest carbon polluters should be held liable for their contributions to climate change in the country.  

Every time we speak, she shares news of new youth-led projects to plant and protect local mangroves, protests to prevent local communities from being evicted by proposed energy projects, or efforts to stop reprisals against those who speak out. 

Her resolve and commitment are unwavering. So much so that anytime my own work becomes heavy - which it does - I turn to Derek to remind myself of what can be achieved.” 

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Giulia Folino - IT Support Manager

“Growing up under the tender care of my Italian nonna [grandmother], Adelina, in a small village called Rogliano in Calabria was an experience filled with warmth, love, and invaluable lessons that have left an indelible mark on my life. Nonna Adelina's life journey unfolded against the backdrop of southern Italy, a region marked by its rich history but also by periods of struggle and hardship.  

Born in 1924, nonna came of age during a time when fascism cast a dark shadow over the country, imposing strict control and stifling freedoms. Especially in the south of Italy, resources were scarce, and many families struggled to make ends meet, often due to policies such as quotas and requisitions on agricultural production, enforced by fascist guards and local authorities, which placed significant strain on farmers and rural communities. 

Despite the oppressive atmosphere, nonna Adelina's resilience and resourcefulness shone through. She learned to make do with what little she had, learning ingenious ways to stretch resources and provide for her family. 

She instilled in me a deep respect for the Earth and its resources, teaching me to waste nothing and cherish everything. 

As I grew older, nonna Adelina's teachings became guiding principles that shaped my worldview. Nowhere is this more evident than in my work at Global Witness, where I use technology to support environmental and social causes.  

Nonna Adelina's spirit of resilience and determination infuses everything I do, reminding me that even in the face of adversity, there is always room for hope and possibility. 

In today's world, where the consequences of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, nonna Adelina's lessons about resourcefulness and sustainability are more relevant than ever. As I strive to make a positive impact in the fight against climate change, I draw inspiration from her, knowing that even the smallest actions can make a difference. 

Nonna Adelina may no longer be with us, but her legacy remains alive within me, a guiding light that illuminates my path forward. Her love and wisdom are ever-present, igniting a flame of inspiration within me as I navigate life's journey.” 

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Shabina Sadiq – Grants Manager

“Erin Brockovich is a powerful female advocate. She continues to fight for the human rights of communities, individuals and – importantly – for women. In 2000, she researched and supported on the legal case against a big US company. The case highlighted the real-life threats to public health that people suffer because of environmental pollution.    

And recently, she has been involved in advocating for women on cases linked to reproductive and pharmaceutical care.  

Her work puts people first. In a world of climate activism, amongst all the voices that speak up, rarely do you hear the voices of people directly affected by ill health say anything.  Erin has been the first, for me, who has made this possible through her work. She has encouraged people directly affected to not only say how they are affected but share the realities of what living with an avoidable health issue has meant for them, their families, and the impact it will have on those around them.  

‘Putting people first' has been my motto in career choices and the reason why most of my own work experiences have been working directly with vulnerable communities, especially girls and women, to ensure they are heard and not forgotten when it comes to accessing health services and advocating for their rights.” 

Climate action Communications


  • Lucia Skelton

    Digital Fundraising and Engagement Coordinator