Skip to main content
Jal Mahal, Jaipur, India

Meet the Women Leading the Climate Fight in India and South Asia

Women are playing a pivotal role in combating climate change across India and South Asia through their interventions, innovative approaches, influential leadership, and work in renewable energy, conservation, sustainable agriculture, and climate policy.

By Smruti Samantray |


At The Climate Reality Project India and South Asia, we firmly believe in the power, enthusiasm, perseverance, and management skills that women bring to make things happen.

We have wonderful and amazing women Climate Reality Leaders in our network, who have been transforming lives while treading the path of sustainability and creating inspiring milestones. As a sequel to our celebrations of World Environment Day and in solidarity in our climate fight, we present to you 20 women making things happen and – we'd proudly say –changing the world.

Madhu Bhatnagar,Fawzia Tarannum,Nita Ganguly,Joshitha Sankam
From left to right: Madhu Bhatnagar, Fawzia Tarannum, Nita Ganguly, Joshitha Sankam

Madhu Bhatnagar is an accomplished Climate Reality Leader and among the notable educators in India who made environmental education mandatory in schools. She is credited as the first one to implement rooftop water harvesting in schools back in 1998. She was also instrumental in stopping tiger poaching in 2005, as a part of the Moghiya Rehabilitation project around Ranthambore National Park.

Fawzia Tarannum is a University of Nairobi-IDRC Doctorial Research Grant recipient and a Climate Reality Leader who's conducted 5,000-plus training programs on water and sustainability, climate change, participatory water governance, gender equality, and environmental, social, and corporate governance principles (ESG). For her interventions, Fawzia was recognized as one of the 17 SDG Women Changemakers by Sayfty Trust and Twitter India.

Nita Ganguly is a Climate Reality Leader mentor and the national coordinator of Climate Reality India and South Asia's Waste to Wealth initiative. In 2020, she received The Indian Achievers Clubs’ 99 Women Achievers of India acclaim (2020) and in 2021 was honored The Most Admired Inspiring Indian Award (2021). As a Climate Reality Leader, she believes that people should embrace a sense of responsibility and accountability to protect the environment and has worked with many different communities to raise awareness of environmental issues, including both defence personnel and civil society groups.

Joshitha Sankam is a Climate Reality Leader working on spreading awareness among communities and health professionals on the various effects of climate change on human health. She is one of the organizers of Health in a Changing Climate: Empowering Health Professionals, a comprehensive training program on climate change and health, and is also a part of the Women Leaders of Planetary Health community.

Deeksha Chopra Bhatia, Leena Joshi, Kavya Govindarajan, Sarika
From left to right: Deeksha Chopra Bhatia, Leena Joshi, Kavya Govindarajan, Sarika

Deeksha Chopra Bhatia is a Climate Reality Leader and environmental educator who's designed various educational programs and workshops on critical topics such as water conservation, waste management, and urban environmental sustainability. She is well known for her work on environmental sustainability, with numerous articles published by international foundations.

Leena Joshi is the founder of Ethereal Inc. and a Climate Reality Leader determined to disrupt the status quo and empower girls by mentoring them. As an environmental activist, she worked with international organizations such as United Nations, UN Climate Change, World Bank Group, and Girl Up United Nations Foundation. She was named GrasshoppHer IT Girl for founding her international organization.

Kavya Govindarajan is a Climate Reality Leader committed to raising awareness of environmental concerns and solutions through her writing, using blogs and research articles to educate and enlighten people on a wide range of green issues.

Sarika is a Climate Reality Leader who works on interdisciplinary projects connecting climate science, botany, and other fields, studying issues from phytoremediation to the effect of global warming on medicinal plants in the high-altitude Transhimalaya. She believes in sharing her insights and working with a broader range of audiences in order to achieve a sustainable and equitable future for all.

Garima Verma,Dr. Ketna Atul Matkar ,Dr. Vidhi Vora, Varsha Rajkhowa
From left to right: Garima Verma, Dr. Ketna Atul Matkar, Dr. Vidhi Vora, Varsha Rajkhowa

Garima Verma is a Climate Reality Leader focused on health and wellness, specializing in Reiki healing, sound therapy, yogic teachings, Taichi, and meditation. She is also the owner of Urban Yogini, where she curates and makes organic, natural, and chemical-free beauty products.

Dr. Ketna Atul Matkar is a Climate Reality Leader and the founder and managing director of Cipher Environmental Solutions LLP, where she trains municipal officials in how to use the Climate Smart City Action Framework for adaptation and mitigation planning. As a consultant and advisor, she's worked with local governments to help build climate resiliency in cities and also worked with numerous colleges and institutes to reduce disaster risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Dr. Vidhi Vora is a Climate Reality Leader and a renowned international public speaker leading training and awareness programs on issues from women’s health and safety to eco-tourism. She believes that sustainability begins at home and established her firm Green Phoenix Circular Solutions to help companies develop sustainable, circular businesses.

Varsha Rajkhowa is a Climate Reality Leader and the first Indian to win the International crown of Miss Scuba International in 2016. She is also the national director of Miss Scuba India and founder director of Oceanic Divas and was awarded the FICCI FLO Women Achievers Award of Excellence for her contribution towards ocean conservation and environmental protection.

Ms. Sandhya Kakkar, Manisha Balani,Swayamprabha Das, Sheetal Antil
From left to right: Ms. Sandhya Kakkar, Manisha Balani,Swayamprabha Das, Sheetal Antil

Ms. Sandhya Kakkar is vice principal of Bal Bharati Public School in Dwarka, New Delhi and an active Climate Reality Leader, driving community outreach and social development initiatives. Under her guidance, the school has received numerous accolades, including the Rex Karamveer Global Education Change Champion Award and the Green Campus Program Award in 2019 by The Climate Project Foundation for promoting volunteering, sustainable practices, and combatting global warming. Through her pioneering work, Ms. Kakkar has inspired students to selflessly engage in community service, fostering a unique approach where each student contributes to social good through dedicated volunteering efforts.

Manisha Balani is a Climate Reality Leader and urban design consultant working in both public and private sectors. Believing that sustainable urbanism can be instrumental in confronting climate change, she introduced a platform, Conscious Gurugram, to provide research and advocacy on designing liveable and environmentally-friendly cities.

Swayamprabha Das is the national coordinator for marine ecosystems with The Climate Reality Project India and South Asia and a Climate Reality Leader trained in 2015. With a PhD in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and a focus on gender and climate change, she has dedicated over 24 years to environmental advocacy and development. She possesses expertise in program management, policy advocacy, and knowledge management. Her diverse experience includes collaborations with the government, international organizations, NGOs, and the private sector. Apart from her professional pursuits, she has a profound passion for traveling as well as oceans and marine conservation.

Sheetal Antil is the national coordinator for green jobs at Climate Reality India and South Asia and an experienced professional focusing on nature-based solutions and climate change education. As a Climate Reality Leader, Sheetal has organized campaigns and educational programs on climate action. She has also worked with organizations like IUCN and Capgemini Invent, gaining expertise in conservation and sustainability. Sheetal's focus as a national coordinator for green jobs is on empowering youth to make environmentally conscious choices.

Dr. Nandini Deshmukh, Dr. Bharti Chhibber, Elsie Gabriel, Priya Talwar
From left to right: Dr. Nandini Deshmukh, Dr. Bharti Chhibber, Elsie Gabriel, Priya Talwar

Dr. Nandini Deshmukh is the national coordinator for climate education at Climate Reality India and South Asia and an academic with over 30 years of experience introducing young minds to the value of environmental conservation. After being trained as a Climate Reality Leader in Istanbul in 2013, she's worked extensively in the western parts of Maharashtra, educating students at many colleges and educational institutes on the reality of the climate crisis and how we can solve it.

Recently, she was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Mumbai Tarun Bharat at the Species and Habitats Warriors Awards 2023 in recognition of her remarkable contribution to environmental projects in Maharashtra. She is one of the torchbearers of climate education with an unwavering commitment that inspires others in the field.

Dr. Bharti Chhibber is the national coordinator for sustainability education at Climate Reality India and South Asia and a highly respected academic, author, socio-political analyst, and environmentalist. With over 17 years of teaching experience at the University of Delhi, India, she has made significant contributions to many fields from international relations to sustainable development to climate justice. Dr. Chhibber actively collaborates with various organizations to raise awareness and empower individuals in areas related to the environment, education, and gender. Her contributions extend to initiatives like sapling plantation drives, wastepaper recycling, herbal garden projects, and waste-to-compost endeavours. Additionally, she combines art with climate communication through her work writing and directing plays focusing on environmental conservation and women's rights.

With a remarkable body of work, Dr. Chhibber has published over 150 books, research papers, and articles in national and international journals and mass media platforms. Her expertise has earned her prestigious international and national awards, fellowships, and invitations as a subject expert for interviews and discussions in electronic and print media.

Elsie Gabriel is the national coordinator for oceans at Climate Reality India and South Asia, found-president of the Young Environmentalists Programme, and the recipient of the prestigious UNESCO Green Citizen-Ocean Literacy prize. She has made significant contributions to youth climate and ocean education programs, particularly in the Lakshadweep Islands and Mumbai. She focuses on researching about fisherwomen, indigenous women, surfers, and divers as agents of change in ocean education.

Because of this extensive experience, Elsie was recently invited to contribute to the C20 working committee for the 2023 G20 Global Summit. She is also an ambassador for India Ocean Quest, co-founder of Ocean School, and holds positions at Poseidon Handicap Scuba. She was invited to speak at the UN Ocean Conference in Portugal, emphasizing the importance of ocean literacy for conservation and climate mitigation. She has authored the book "Get Out Get Going Outdoors" to promote wilderness education and digital detox and mentors young adults in Assam, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the Maldives. These and other efforts have led to a wide range of honors from the Golden Award from the Maldives Tourism Ministry to her recent recognition as a climate champion by the Foundation L'Oréal.

Priya Talwar is a Climate Reality Leader and the founder of TalVer Ventures. She provides consultancy for corporate social responsibility projects, recruitment solutions, English-as-a-Second-Language coaching for underprivileged individuals, and career support for young artists. Her leadership extends to organizing workshops, competitions, panel discussions, and more on diverse topics like environment, climate change, water security, livelihood, wildlife, and social change.

As a Climate Reality Leader, she has been integral in promoting Youth For Earth 2023, fostering youth participation from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. She's also worked to help advocates learn about and build capacity for action on water and climate change, focusing on Saharanpur, Baghpat, and Ghaziabad villages near the Hindon River Basin.

To learn more about The Climate Reality Project India and South Asia, visit