Today is International Women’s Day, so to celebrate, we want to introduce you to the legendary ladies in Bali who are fighting to making a difference.
From activists, visionaries and international heroes, to the everyday mum, sister or daughter working hard to get through this crazy thing we call life, throughout history women have helped shape the world we know today for the better. After all, we’re all the product of an amazing woman who went through hell to bring us here.
So, for International Women’s Day (8th March), we’re honouring these strong, courageous and wave-making women from around the world, especially those who live with us on our humble island home. Right here in Bali, we have an incredible community of women who have made huge positive changes, whether fighting for the environment, the people, the animals or for peace. Yup, Bali is full of inspirational female figures who deserve a mention on this historical day, so here are just a few of them…
INSPIRATIONAL FEMALE FIGURES IN BALI
Women fighting for the planet
Beginning with the new generation of activists, Bali is home to the inspiring young ladies from Bye Bye Plastic Bags, sisters Isabel and Melati Wijsen. At just 13 and 15 years-old, these legendary ladies convinced the government to ban environmentally devastating plastic bags on the island. They even speak at international TED Talks around the world, and since their campaign began, we’ve never seen so many recycled bags in Bali. Also fighting for a cleaner, greener future is Silvija Rumiha from Zero Waste Bali, alongside the Mums from IbuBumi Bali (an eco-friendly home-products store), and we’re even seeing a movement towards wholly-sustainable design projects from heroes like Elora Hardy, the creative brains behind Ibuku and Bali’s Green School and Green Village.
Women fighting for the people
One lady fighting for the people of Bali is the “Queen of Ubud” Janet DeNeefe. Janet launched the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival from the not-for-profit Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati foundation – a healing project in response to the first Bali bombing. The festival came about as a way to bring the crowds back to Bali after the tragedy, and during the pandemic, the 2021 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival played an enormous role in raising money to support local families in need.
Adding to the endless list of inspirational women in Bali is Kim Farr, founder of Bali Street Mums Project. Born in 2015, the foundation aims to break the tragic cycle of poverty and female trafficking that lasts for generations. Another lady on-the-ground and helping local families is the wonderful Margaret Barry, the founder of the Bali Children Foundation which helps underprivileged children complete school and later find employment. Similarly, Kadek Ridoi Rahayu is a devoted supporter of the Children Protection Institution of Bali. She’s a strong advocate for children’s rights and through her unremitting dedication to the cause, has been recognised as an Indonesian Young Leader by UNICEF.
CNN’s 2011 Hero of the Year, Robin Lim, is no stranger when it comes to fighting for human rights – specifically for the earth’s youngest citizens: newborns and children. The loving mum and grandmother founded Yayasan Bumi Sehat decades ago, and since then, Robin and her team has helped countless underprivileged mums and their little ones achieve a better quality of life throughout pregnancy and after birth.
Women fighting for the animals
Also fighting for continuous change is Janice Girardi, founder of the Bali Animal Welfare Association. Janice and the BAWA team work around the clock battling to save Bali’s dogs, cats and heritage animals. Together with international donations, Janice helps fund BAWA with her own jewellery line, and she’s not the only fearless female expat here who has set up her own organisation…
Elizabeth Grant Suttie of Villa Kitty Bali has dedicated her life to rescuing Bali’s abandoned cats, now with over 100 (and counting) resident felines in her care. She’s joined by an army of other local female heroes who have also kickstarted their own animal charities, including Prue Barber from Mission Paws’ible (who is gearing up to launch Bali’s first ever healing centre for injured animals), Rhonda Lepsch from Jet Set Petz, the female-led team at Bali Pet Crusaders and sooo many more, including the incredibly devoted solo rescuers like Kris Ritchie and Franci of I Love Bali Dogs.
You might be starting to realise that this list of Bali’s amazing women could go on and on – and that’s before we even consider the hundreds of thousands of ibus working hard each day in the villages to feed their families and uphold Bali’s iconic culture. So whether you’re one of the incredible expat women here who threw away everything to experience this magical place, or a Balinese beauty that keeps this island alive with that unrelenting and contagious spirit, thanks to you, Bali is a female force to be reckoned with.
Happy International Women’s Day, Honeys!
To learn more about International Women’s Day and the amazing women featured in this year’s #EmbraceEquity theme, check out the official International Women’s Day website.