International Women’s Day: Photos and Quotes From Women Explorers

Jane Goodall is groomed by a chimpanzee in the Brazzaville Zoo.
Primatologist Jane Goodall has been an inspiration and role model for 50 years, on International Women’s Day and every day. Photograph by Mike Nichols

Here at National Geographic, we’d like to celebrate International Women’s Day by highlighting favorite quotes from our women explorers. Whether they are educating young girls in Africa, or searching for fossils in Madagascar with their two young children, we are proud to support their work.

“Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.”

—Primatologist Jane Goodall founded the Goodall Institute and strives to improve global understanding and treatment of great apes through research, public education, and advocacy.

Kakenya Ntaiya created the first and only primary school for girls in her remote village in Africa. Photograph courtesy Kakenya’s Dream
“Today, I am working to fulfill the promise I made years ago: to return to my village and give back. I am building a girls’ school in Enoosaen so that the lives of other young African girls might forever be altered through education, empowerment and leadership. This is my dream.”

Kakenya Ntaiya travels around the world to speak on the importance of educating girls, particularly as a means to fight the practices of female genital mutilation and child marriage.


Karen Samonds has raised her two children in the field and found it beneficial as a mother and as a researcher.


“Bringing my children into the field has been an extremely rich experience. It has been a huge logistical challenge at times, between travel medicine appointments, expensive airfares, washing cloth diapers, and tent camping. But I feel it has broadened their perspective of the world around them, introducing early in their lives a valuable chance to experience stunning biodiversity. Both the girls have seen Madagascar’s wildlife up close. Perhaps more importantly, they have experienced human diversity on an international scale, including the realization of how much of the world lives in poverty. In many ways, our experience of working with my children in the field has brought me closer to local communities, and opened up new doors for collaboration and outreach.”

—Karen Samonds conducts paleontological and ecological fieldwork in Madagascar with her husband and two children.

Kelsey Wilson inspires women photographers in Sur, Oman. Photograph by Jonathan Moretto
Kelsey Wilson inspires women photographers in Sur, Oman. Photograph by Jonathan Moretto
“This new era of transition in Oman poses particular challenges for women. The purpose of my expedition is to explore the ways in which women artisans are meeting these challenges. The photographs taken by the women will reveal their voices and their creativity through various art forms and explore the fluidity and adaptation of Omani culture in this new era.”
—Young Explorer Kelsey Wilson’s project provides cameras to Omani women artisans in order to see ‘through their eyes and in their hands’ the evolution of their living craft heritage in a time of rapid and necessary transition.

“The things I love are being squeezed out at an alarming rate and the consequences for individual animals, their families, and the habitats they depend on, is devastating.”

——National Geographic grantee and ethologist Joyce Poole uses citizen science, including local women, and Web technology to bring elephant conservation into the 21st century.

Watch Joyce Poole’s talk on elephant conservation:

Who is your favorite female explorer?

NEXT: International Women’s Day Photos: National Geographic’s Women Explorers

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Meet the Author
Amy Bucci is a web producer for National Geographic. Her projects mainly cover National Geographic explorers, grantees and initiatives.