Meet agents of change, Payal Jangid and Laura Yawanawá.
Caring for the planet and people is close to our hearts–inspiring our partnerships across the globe. This International Women’s Day, we’re proud to celebrate two women leading change in our partner communities: Payal Jangid and Laura Yawanawá.
Payal and Laura are fierce advocates for the Earth and its communities, focusing on women’s rights, Indigenous People’s rights and environmental protection. Ahead, we discuss the efforts of these inspiring women—and share how we’re supporting them.
ANTI-CHILD MARRIAGE ACTIVIST
Payal Jangid is an anti-child marriage activist from India’s Rajasthan region, advocating for women and children. Payal’s story is deeply personal: At just 11-years-old, she learned she was destined for an arranged child marriage. Inspired by anti-child marriage activists, Payal convinced her parents to call off the wedding.
Since then, she’s become a vocal advocate, activist and organizer for children’s rights in the region, including serving as the leader of the child parliament in her village, Hinsla, for many years. With her efforts, Hinsla is now a “child-friendly” village, a term used to designate villages that protect children from arranged marriages, child labor and child trafficking.
Today, Payal organizes rallies and protests, engages with local leaders and pushes for community education on the perils of child marriage. It’s critical work: Children protected from child marriage have the best chances to finish their education, enjoy their childhood, stay with family and avoid sexual violence and partner abuse. “I want to fight for all women, especially girls,” she says.
In 2019, 17-year-old Payal earned the Changemaker Award from the Gates Foundation1 for her transformative efforts in villages like Hinsla. We’re moved by the courageous work of Payal and are proud of our longtime partnership with the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation2, which stands behind women like Payal, who are advocating on behalf of young women’s rights.
ADVOCATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S RIGHTS AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS
Laura Yawanawá leads the Yawanawá tribe in Brazil alongside her husband, Chief Tashka Yawanawá. As a proponent of change, Laura has been instrumental in evolving the traditionally patriarchal culture of the Yawanawá to be more open and inclusive of women.
Laura’s work is wide-ranging, transformative and essential for the survival of the Yawanawá tribe. She has seen firsthand the devastating effects of climate change and deforestation and is a fierce advocate for environmental protection. She also travels throughout Latin America to support Indigenous People’s rights, helping Indigenous communities understand their authority and fight for self-determination. In this capacity, she has co-founded the Nawa Institute3 and INIYA (Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Alliance).
Since 1992, Aveda has partnered with the Yawanawá to more than double the size of the tribe’s land rights while engaging in efforts to preserve and enhance biodiversity and mitigate climate change. Today, the Yawanawá look after 450,000 acres of land in the Amazon rainforest. Working with Laura, we’ve also supported local human rights, providing the Yawanawá people with access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, food security programs, schooling, and scholarships.
Laura advocates for women’s rights and gender equality in Indigenous communities, cementing her legacy as a truly empowering leader within her community and beyond.
This International Women’s Day—and every day—we’re proud to support the work of Payal Jangid and Laura Yawanawá as they advocate for our planet and its people.
1Please note, this link will take you directly to gatesfoundation.org
2Please note, this link will take you directly to https://satyarthi-us.org/
3Please note, this link will take you directly to https://orgs.tigweb.org/nawa-institute