Tuesday, November 14, 2017 was Gender Day at COP23. As a woman, I felt a strong urge to attend at least one discussion focusing on women. I attended the “Behind Goal 13-Women Leading the Climate Agenda”. As the title ensues, goal 13 of the Paris Agreement is about taking action to fight climate change and the impacts associated. Therefore, this discussion involved women and their leadership role in fighting climate change.
The crowd was predominately full of all different ages, races, background and nationality. The event took place as a panel discussion with several leadership-driven women from all different societies and background. The one speaker who caught my immediate attention was Monica Araya. She is the founder of Nivela and Costa Rica Limpia. The main focus of this panel was her job and the advertisement of electric cars.
How are you perceived when you speak about the importance of electric cars?
Dr. Araya explained that the audience she is speaking with is usually men. They understand the concept, reasoning and benefits of the electric car. But they never believe. They don’t believe the product, because the individual explaining the product is a woman. Therefore, there is a lack of trust since woman would have less knowledge in male dominant field.
How do you break through the stereotype that cars are the domain of men?
“Humor, data, and homework” she replied with a smile. I was impressed by the level of confidence she held while discussing how the workplace is not gender balanced. My jaw dropped when she stated a common piece of feedback is “wow Monica you really know your stuff, but try to just stick to the product because you sound feminist”.
As for climate change directly, she explained how “we are in a transition to a world that won’t have fossil fuels…but at some point, it gets nasty”. These moments of transitions allow for difficulties to arise. Obstacles where women must take charge and lead the people. Leadership is often described as “bossy, unbearable…it’s a subtle dismissal and it’s not seen as leadership but rather bossy”. In fact, “a woman with strong views, who did her homework and knows the information… is seen as bossy and unknowledgeable”.
Every girl or woman has been called one of these terms. However, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, we should view it as a compliment. We don’t need to be empowered because WE ARE POWERFUL. Our whiny, grumpy and bossy titles should be worn with pride. For if you did the research, are knowledgeable and skillful you can lead in the fight against climate change and educate others.
Any male or female reading this, just remember…