The maternal instinct to protect one’s family is a powerful catalyst. Many Goldman Prize recipients initially became involved in environmental activism to protect the health and wellbeing of their children. From Lois Gibbs (1990) to Sofia Gatica (2012), the Goldman Prize has been honoring activist mothers since its inception.
One of the first recipients of the Prize, Lois Gibbs, began her journey with environmental activism when her children and neighbors began suffering from unusual health problems. She launched a personal investigation and discovered that her neighborhood was built on top of a toxic waste dump, known today as the Love Canal.
Judy Bonds (d. 2011) was awarded the Prize in 2003 for her work to end mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. The catalyst for her work came one day when her grandson was standing in a local stream, holding fistfuls of dead fish. He looked at her and asked, “What’s wrong with these fish?”
Sofia Gatica, 2012 Prize recipient from Argentina, was recognized for her efforts to stop toxic pesticide spraying on the soy fields near her home. Her work began tragically, when her infant daughter died as a result of pesticide poisoning.
Goldman Prize recipients come from all over the world and work on hundreds of different issues, but the stories of these strong and courageous Goldman Prize women remind us that motherhood is a universal language and we all have a responsibility to future generations.