Recently I had the privilege of attending a diner with the great Jane Goodall, a true example of women power. This meeting with 135 women in Amsterdam, aimed to generate ideas of how to support Jane in her mission.  

Most people associate this grand lady with chimpanzees, but the cause for which she still travels 300 days a year, age 84, is non less than our beautiful planet. ”It is bizarre that the most intellectual creature that has ever walked on this planet is destroying its own and only home,” she said, ”but I have hope.”

She is witty -”Tarzan made only one mistake: he married the wrong Jane!”– strong-headed: nothing could stop her from going for her dream, so she just set out for Africa as a young woman in 1951; and she is the living proof of what she wants to instill in all young people: the idea that everyone matters. The ”power of one” she calls it. ”Every one of us makes a difference every day.” 

Early on she understood that the chimpanzees, and all endangered animals, can only be safe if the people who live around them are safe. ”So we went to the people and asked what they wanted.” She managed to get support to set up programs that restored the overused land, taught people to farm sustainably, invest in education and more. 

I asked her what was on her wish list. You can watch her answer below.

Jane moved mountains, and she did it the feminine way: by connecting people. She started out, for example, by bringing together the various wildlife conservation organisations in six different range countries, who, until then, had been unaware of each other’s work.

Women play a crucial role in driving change: it’s they who apply for the micro-credits through the Jane Goodall Institute, it’s girls who get the scholarships, women who welcome family planning, but slowly the men have started coming along. And from the original 12 villages where it started, the program now runs in five different countries.

The Roots and Shoots program for schools and universities, that now runs in nearly 100 countries, is modelled on the interconnectedness of different life-forms in the rain-forest. ”Each group of children chooses three projects to make the world around them better. One to help people, one project to help animals and one for the environment,” Jane explained.

Jane deserves our support, because she is a tremendous change-maker and role model. You can do so by donating. You can get your local school to adopt Roots and Shoots. Think twice when you buy another piece of clothing you don’t really need: how much water was used and poisoned by pesticides or herbicides to produce this garment? Under what conditions do the people who made it work? Did the meat you eat involve animal cruelty? How much of the food you buy, you throw away?

And if you have your own ideas to grow awareness of the need to change our ways, the need to stop wasting away our only home, please share them wherever you can.