This week we’re celebrating just a few of the thousands of incredible woman who make up the Jane Goodall Institute Australia (JGIA) family – and beyond!
After yesterday’s starter with Roots & Shoots Tasmania Coordinator, Vineeta, today we introduce you to policy powerhouse Zara Bending.
Fighter for wildlife, award-winning lecturer, passionate animal activist, prolific published writer and volunteer Board Director of the Jane Goodall Institute Australia. Zara wears many complimentary, and connected, hats.
Born in Western Sydney, Zara is the dedicated, deeply knowledgeable lead of the Jane Institute’s global Forever Wild campaign – fighting wildlife trafficking worldwide of all species. An award-winning lecturer and associate at the Centre for Environmental Law at Macquarie University, Zara’s biggest passion is protecting wildlife. A recognised expert on illegal wildlife trade, Zara serves in criminal proceedings, parliamentary inquiries, campaigning and activism – to stop our fellow earthlings be commodified, hunted to extinction and abused.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you? And why do you think it’s still important?
International Women’s Day is an opportunity for women and our allies to acknowledge all we have achieved towards gender equality, despite near insurmountable odds and just how far we still need to push. For me it comes down to celebrating three R’s: resilience, resistance and representation.
How did you get involved with JGIA?
I joined the JGIA Board in 2015 and now also work with JGI-Global as an expert on illegal wildlife trade. What stood out for me was how strongly inclusion featured in the position advert. Once joining, one of the first things I worked on was formalising our Equal Employment Opportunity Policy with then CEO Nancy Moloney.
What qualities and attributes of Jane keep you motivated?
Jane is many things to many people, but for me it’s her work ethic, compassion for all life on Earth, intellect (I still get butterflies when I see her track changes on a document!) and ability to move people to action that keeps me on-task.
For you, what are the most vital issues facing women – and our entire planet – today?
So many of the ills facing our planet could be solved if we promote women’s autonomy and self-determination: reproductive health and rights, equal access to education and employment, freedom from gender-based violence – including forced marriage. Women are disproportionately impacted by climate change, economic downturn and all the existential crises bearing down on our species.
What advice would you give 10-year-old you with hindsight?
If you want to be successful in anything, failing is part of the process (or, ‘first attempt’ as we say in learning). Be brave, learn from your mistakes, be kind to others and yourself, and when you fail, just try to fail forwards, not backwards.
What is your key message to other women with similar goals?
Our planet, and all the various forms of life with whom we share it, requires more from us to survive – let alone thrive. When 50% of our species are arbitrarily and systemically disenfranchised, we deny everyone the chance at a future with less suffering and greater prosperity. The fight for gender equality is a fight for our collective future. So, anytime the world taunts you to “fight like a girl”, take the invitation and show them. #ChooseToChallenge.
- End Wildlife Crime
- Listen to End Wildlife Crime boss John Scanlon with Jane on Hopecast
- Learn more about Forever Wild >>
- Read our first piece in this IWD series on Roots & Shoots leader Vineeta Gupta