Todays blog is written by Sy Joshua, Senior Race Equity Specialist.  

Black History Month, celebrated throughout October in the UK, is a time to honour and acknowledge the historical contributions and achievements of Black individuals and communities.   

This year at the RSPB we're exploring’s powerful theme: "Recognising the Achievements of Black Women in Movements."   

Join us as we delve into the achievements of three prominent Black Women of Movements.

Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) ‘A Power for Peace’, founder of the Green Belt Movement   

Image: Wangari Maathai by Martin Rowe

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmentalist and political activist. Her pioneering work in tree planting and conservation empowered women and communities to protect the environment while promoting gender equality.  

 “We cannot tire or give up.  We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!” Wangari Maathai 

Her unique specialism brought together research and resources in land use, forestry, agriculture, resource-based conflicts, and peace studies (aka) The Green Belt Movement which continues today.     

In 2004, Wangari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for sustainable development, democracy and peace.   

You can read her biography here.  

The remarkable Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah, widely known as "Lady Phyll"  

Image:  Phyll Opoku-Gyimah by Sarah Jeynes

Lady Phyll has made a profound impact in the realms of LGBTQI+ rights and intersectional equality in the UK. 

She co-founded UK Black Pride, an annual event celebrating LGBTQI+ people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. This platform empowers Black LGBTQI+ individuals, offering a space for authentic expression and advocacy against discrimination. 

Beyond her work with UK Black Pride, Phyllis is a steadfast advocate for intersectional equality, understanding that LGBTQ+ rights intersect with broader racial and gender equality struggles. Her influence has been instrumental in amplifying the voices of Black LGBTQ+ communities. 

Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah's dedication has earned her recognition as one of the UK's "Top 100 most influential LGBT people." Her commitment to diversity and inclusion inspires us to continue fostering a more equitable world.  

Marion Atieno Osieyo ‘Champion of Sustainable Development’ 

Image: Marion Atieno Osieyo courtesy of Black Earth

Marion Atieno Osieyo's career has been marked by her tireless efforts to promote international cooperation and sustainable development.  

Her work spans diverse areas, including poverty alleviation, humanitarian aid, and sustainable economic growth. She has made significant contributions to international organisations and initiatives aimed at creating positive change on a global scale. 

Marion Atieno Osieyo has launched a new interview podcast, Black Earth, celebrating nature and black women leaders in the environmental movement.  Generating new conversations on some of the most ground-breaking solutions from planetary health to climate psychology, Afro-Indigenous farming practices and ecological reparations. We are delighted to report that Black Earth was awarded Silver Award for 'Best New Podcast' at the 2023 British Podcast Awards. 


The theme of ‘Recognising Black Women in Movements’ underscores the significance of acknowledging the often-overlooked contributions of Black women. Their leadership, resilience, and determination have been instrumental in driving social change and progress in the UK and across the world. 

By elevating these trailblazers during Black History Month, we not only celebrate their achievements but also inspire future generations to champion equality and justice. It is a reminder that our collective history as humans is enriched and empowered by the remarkable women who have paved the way for a more equitable and inclusive world.   

At the RSPB, we recognise that our movement must be inclusive for everyone. We save nature through people. All people.  

Take a moment to look at our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) commitment.