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Six Women Making a Powerful Impact

  • 4 min read
As we celebrate International Women's Day, we spotlight some incredible women making positive change for people and the planet.

Six Women Making a Powerful Impact

As a women-led company, and staunch supporters of a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive, we're proud to share these stories of women doing amazing things as we celebrate International Women’s Day. 

Peri Drysdale

Founder & CEO, Untouched World

In 1981 Peri began a cottage industry knitwear business, then called Snowy Peak. While travelling extensively exporting her knitwear, Peri became deeply concerned about the ecological trajectory the planet was on. And so, in 1997, Untouched World was born, out of a desire to use fashion as a vehicle for change, and to do better for people and the planet. Untouched World is the first fashion company in the world to be recognised by the United Nations for sustainability. The Untouched World Foundation, which provides groundbreaking ‘Leadership for a Sustainable Future’ programmes for young adults, is recognised by UNESCO as one of three global exemplars in that space.

Over the years, Peri and Untouched World Ltd have received numerous awards, including Peri’s recognition in 1999 as one of 100 New Zealanders who made the most significant contribution to New Zealand. In 1992 Peri was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, and was North and South New Zealander of the Year in 2006.

"I wanted to promote a cleaner, greener way of living, that looked after the planet and each other, so I set about building a brand that embraced the earth and equity for all."

Claudia Hillyer

Foundation Development Manager (Kaiwhakaangi), Untouched World Foundation

Claudia is our Kaiwhakaangi (programme operations and facilitation) for the Untouched World Foundation, a dance teacher and is also studying Rongoā Māori (indigenous knowledge of plants and the environment to benefit the community). Claudia supports the use and visibility of te reo (language), tikanga (principles) and mātauranga (knowledge) Māori. She also facilitates and organises the many leadership programmes the Foundation delivers for  secondary and tertiary students, helping develop these rangatahi (young people) as emerging leaders. Claudia supports many young people who are optimistic and driven by the future, and she helps to shape them into active change-makers who have the skills to care for our environment.

"As tangata Māori, and in fact as human beings on this planet, we are descendants of Papatūānuku, Earth Mother. We have an obligation as well as the privilege to nurture and nourish the land that holds us, in the short stretch of time that she provides us with the resources for life." 

Sofia Heinonen

CEO, Rewilding Argentina

An activist for nature, Sofia has, for over 15 years, led the first Rewilding effort in South America with the restoration of the Esteros del Iberá, the largest wetlands in Argentina. She is a biologist and has spent more than 30 years designing strategies for the creation of protected areas in our country, with a unique capacity to envision projects on a large scale and for the long term. She worked for national and regional conservation non-profits, and in the National Park Service administration, before joining the team of Rewilding Argentina as its leader in 2005. For her tireless work, Sofia was recognized via the BBC’s ‘100 Women 2022’ list of inspiring and influential women from around the world.

“Our achievements in Argentina, where environmental damage has been profound, should give hope that there's still time for South America and the rest of the world.”

Luli Masera

Director of Strategic Development, Rewilding Argentina

Luli studied chemical engineering in Buenos Aires and environmental engineering in Madrid, where she then served as a consultant for a private forest agency. In 2017, she began to work for Rewilding Argentina and was one of the founders of the marine conservation program which had the objective of protecting at least 10% of the Argentine Sea. With her matchless charisma, she has been the Director of Strategic Development for Rewilding Argentina since 2018, travelling the world to present Rewilding's projects.

“I love the wild, all things wild. It brings me freedom, and connects me with who I am. I´m lucky enough to work every day together with an incredible group of people to keep a few pockets of the world as wild as they can be. I have hope, because regardless of the result, I believe that what we are doing makes sense to enhance all life on this planet.”

Roz Pope-Meyer

Board Chair, Pro-Eco Azuero

Rossie Pope-Meyer is the Board Chair of the Panamanian NGO Pro-Eco Azuero, a dancer, mother, environmental advocate and development strategist focused on the connection between reforestation, environmental justice, wildlife corridors and women's leadership.

“Panama is a remarkable country. I believe everyone wants to be part of preserving the places they cherish within it. Restoration of forests and the animals that reside there is the key to keeping the biodiversity intact and the wild spaces we know and love.”

Lupe Ayerza

Lupe was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studied International Relations. Prior to joining Rewilding Argentina, Lupe co-founded Minkai, a nonprofit dedicated to promote equal educational opportunities in disadvantaged communities in northern Argentina. She later joined TECHO, a youth-led nonprofit that works on poverty alleviation in slums across Latin America, and launched the NYC office, from where she led the organisation’s international fundraising efforts. Lupe later joined the Rewilding Argentina Foundation’s Strategy and Partnerships team in 2019. She is busy building relationships with donors and developing strategic alliances, among other tasks.

“I am fascinated by the beauty of wildness, the mystery and diversity of the world in which we live. I feel very fortunate to work with such an inspiring and fun team to protect and rewild some of the most marvelous corners on our planet so that everyone can take part in their wild beauty.”

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