Ellie Goulding on the incredible women who shaped her

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  • One of the most valuable lessons I have learnt over the years is the power of the people around you.

    It’s so important that you surround yourself with the right people – people who support you and encourage you in your productivity and your passions. But also people who inspire you.

    I am inspired by so many women around me in my work and activism. Scientists, pioneers, activists, writers, CEOs – incredible women who I keep in the back of my mind at all time.

    I always say that I want to hear from women when it comes to climate change, and not just old white men. And as part of my Guest Edit, I want to recognise and celebrate some of the incredible women who have inspired me and supported me along the way.

    I want my Guest Edit to help people realise their individual power like these women helped me realise mine.

    These are the women who shaped me

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    Stella McCartney, fashion designer

    Stella McCartney has been a really great friend to me. She has always supported my music and more than that, she has always supported me in every way in my life. And she’s one of the old school climate change pioneers! She was one of the first people to come forward and understand that fashion was incredibly bad for the environment. For her it must be crazy to see that fashion is following her, but she’s always been about that and she’s always cared so much about nature. I could say so much more about her but I just think it’s incredibly admirable to just be as bold as she was because that’s not easy.

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    Ayana Johnson, marine biologist

    Ayana Johnson is an oceanographer and a climate scientist – she’s just a general kind of badass. I had her take over my Instagram page last year because I wanted more people to know what she was about. There are some people you just really want people to know about and she’s one of them. Ayana wrote a book called All We Can Save which everyone should read. It’s basically about how you can get involved in shaping a different future and stopping destruction of the planet – whatever you do and whoever you are. So, literally everyone can get involved whether you’re an environmentalist or not.

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    Jane Goodall, primatologist

    Jane Goodall inspires me – she literally changed the face of science. She had to push against the system because she was a woman and it was a real male-dominated world back then. But she did it her own way. She would observe and she would collect data – she used science the way we all should. And she discovered that primates use tools. She has inspired generations of women to become scientists and I think that’s a huge thing.

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    Lucy Siegle, journalist

    Lucy is a good friend as well as a hero. She has this amazing combination of anger and optimism. She’s funny as well – and for me humour has always been a huge part of everything. My job is so weird that I often have to laugh and make a joke of it. I love her to pieces and she just lights this fire in me. She’s someone that I can just call up and be angry with, but also be passionate with. We’re just constantly thinking about what we can do next. “What can we do?”, “What should we do?”, “Should we do another pass the mic?”, “Shall we go and protest?”. To have someone like that to go back and forth with is really great. To know that you can call them up and work out how to get the message out there together or not eat meat for a month together. If you can find someone like that in your life, hold onto them. She’s one of those people that I’m very grateful to have in my life.

    Greta Thunberg, activist

    I have to mention Greta because she really did make the world pay attention. It’s really beautiful to see that many young people coming together and she’s kind of like their teacher. I feel like those young people have now grown up a bit and they’re taking that knowledge with them into the world, and I think she has been a huge part of that. She has made people accountable. She’s turned a lot of young people into climate leaders – taking on positions in local government, standing for office, advising UN figures, so that’s huge. She’s literally shaping youth and what they go on to be and care about.

    Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF UK

    When I met Tanya, I was struck by our similar energy – she just gets things done. I’m always a fan of a female CEO in any situation and she’s really inspirational so naturally I wanted to work with her. And when I became an ambassador for WWF, I finally got the chance to. Tanya will go into businesses and inspire them to make change and to be more sustainable. She will tell them how it is, get them to make pledges and she will not rest until they have made these changes and I think that’s really important. She brings people together and gets them to make commitments and that’s what we need. We need people who will literally walk into boardrooms and ask the difficult questions. “Tell us what you’re going to do to change your business”, “Tell us how you’re going to commit to cutting carbon”, “Tell us how you’re going to commit to sustainability within your business”. Knowing that women hold that power and position is extremely inspirational and I definitely think it’s important to have women like her in the back of my mind.

    Read more on Ellie Goulding’s guest edit @MarieClaireUK.

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