From the problems inherent in eating eggs to the suffering that drinking milk causes, women’s issues and animal rights often overlap. So it’s no wonder that the animal rights movement in general is dominated by women. The same can be said about PETA specifically, where strong, smart, and strategic female activists make up a whopping 80 percent of the workforce—not to mention hold seven of PETA’s top 11 executive positions.
So in honor of Women’s History Month (March) and International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re highlighting several of our very own heroines. Get to know them—and get inspired:
Ingrid Newkirk—President, PETA
PETA President and cofounder Ingrid Newkirk has led the world’s largest animal rights organization for nearly 40 years. She believes that animals deserve the most basic rights—in particular, consideration of their own best interests, regardless of whether they’re useful to humans. She’s spoken internationally on animal rights issues, from the steps of the Canadian Parliament to the streets of New Delhi, India, where she spent her childhood. She often reflects on the unique ways that women can relate to—and help—animals but encourages everyone to work toward animal liberation and shares the tools needed to do so freely and willingly.
“Discrimination is discrimination, and it’s wrong, whether you’re a woman or a chicken,” says Newkirk.
Tracy Reiman—Vice President, PETA
Tracy Reiman’s work to promote animal rights has made headlines in major publications around the world. At PETA, she oversees the campaign, marketing, corporate affairs, and youth outreach divisions. PETA has the largest youth membership of any animal rights organization, thanks in large part to her efforts. She leads PETA’s successful work to pressure companies to adopt animal-friendly policies, including persuading Inditex—the biggest fashion group in the world—to stop selling cruelly obtained animal-derived materials such as angora and persuading companies such as Southwest Airlines to end their partnerships with SeaWorld.
“I work in a place where people are respected for their thoughts, ideas, creativity, and hard work and where every day I am challenged—by the work, my colleagues, and the motivation to stop animal suffering,” says Reiman.
Kathy Guillermo—Senior Vice President, Laboratory Investigations, PETA
For nearly 30 years, Kathy Guillermo has worked to expose and end cruelty to animals in the experimentation and horse-racing industries. She also works with national and international news media to publicize PETA’s landmark investigative, legal, and behind-the-scenes corporate work exposing and ending cruelty to animals in the food, experimentation, and entertainment industries. Some of her major victories include closing down a dog- and cat-testing facility, pressuring NASA to scrap plans to irradiate monkeys, and persuading the U.S. military to end all chemical-casualty training on monkeys.
“Abolishing animal experimentation is a winning scenario for everyone,” says Guillermo.
Lisa Lange—Senior Vice President of Communications, PETA
Lisa Lange’s involvement in animal rights began when she went vegetarian as a teenager after seeing how animals are raised on factory farms. At PETA, she devises effective and eye-catching ways to get the animal rights message out to as many people as possible. She’s coordinated the production of some of PETA’s most successful videos and public service announcements, including the hugely popular “BWV—Boyfriend Went Vegan” ad, which generated more than 2.5 million views online.
“I love my male colleagues and friends, too, but there’s a strength and a quickness to women. We’re always 10 steps ahead,” says Lange.
Colleen O’Brien—Vice President of Communications, PETA
Colleen O’Brien’s activism was sparked when she went vegetarian as a teenager while working at a zoo and caring for a silkie chicken from China—and giving presentations to zoo visitors about how interesting and intelligent these birds are. Now, she oversees PETA’s media and advertising divisions and our efforts to get the animal rights message into the news and out to the public. Under her guidance, PETA’s activities and campaigns have made headlines in major newspapers and on television networks around the world.
“Just as true conservationists respect animals by giving them their space and privacy, true advocates roll up their sleeves and do what’s needed to prevent and end needless suffering,” says O’Brien.
Dr. Alka Chandna—Vice President, Laboratory Investigations Cases, PETA
Dr. Alka Chandna visited a slaughterhouse for the first time in 1989. She became an animal rights activist and vegan advocate after witnessing the violence there and has never looked back. She often jokes that as the daughter of a mother and father who stood up in their own ways against British colonial rule in India, she was born to be an activist. She’s been speaking up for the rights of immigrants, women, humans in general, and animals for decades. She has claimed many victories in her more than 15 years with PETA, including successfully campaigning against the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its maternal-deprivation experiments on monkeys.
“I am the daughter of immigrants and an immigrant myself,” Chandna says. “Growing up, I felt insecure about being different. Our family wore different clothes. We ate different food. We spoke a different language. I felt out of place. Even as an adult, I would sometimes let my authentic voice get drowned out by my insecurities. Thankfully, when I started working at PETA, things began falling into place, because I was doing a job that was true to my authentic self—that resonated with my deepest-held convictions.”
Poorva Joshipura—Vice President of International Affairs, PETA U.K.
Poorva Joshipura started working for PETA at 23 years old, but her activism began at a much earlier age. Her encounters with racist and sexist bullies in school led her to a career and life of fighting injustices, including those against animals. She’s attended many protests and been a champion for human rights, women’s rights, and environmental protection in addition to animal rights. Joshipura speaks proudly of being a member of the PETA family, but it’s PETA that’s honored to consider her a teammate.
“Growing up, I faced racist and sexist bullying in school. These experiences made me determined to spend my life fighting injustice,” Joshipura says. “They also led me to see what’s wrong with all negative ‘isms,’ not only racism and sexism but speciesism, too.”
These are only seven of the countless activists who embody what it means to be a strong representative of the animal rights movement. And the best part about animal rights activism is that every little bit counts. Make big changes for animals by taking small steps like these:
- Never support companies that support testing on animals.
- Leave animals off your plate.
- Wear only animal-friendly clothing and accessories.
- Tell places like SeaWorld why you refuse to frequent them.
These actions cost us nothing, but they can mean the difference between life and death for animals. Click below if you’re feeling inspired enough to join us:
Share this blog post with your friends and family to inspire them this #IWD2019 and beyond: