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To be completely frank with you, I only became personally engaged on the issue of gender equality and gender justice when I started 1MW. I am so sorry and I am not sure what planet I was on before then.
I owned and ran my own cosmetics company for 24 years before I started 1MW and I have only ever been the CEO/founder of something and the fact that I was a woman was never an issue. My salary set the level for everyone. I called the shots and I worked in an industry that was overwhelmingly represented by women.
And I think my story, my journey of how I got engaged on the issue of climate change and started 1MW mirrors what happens when a woman becomes empowered.
I only got the point on climate change in 2007. I could sit around a dinner table and talk about the issues and understand the dire consequences if we don't all act then leave the dinner table and carry on business as usual. For me there was a deep disconnect between talking about the issue and acting. I think this is a fundamental issue for a lot of us, particularly women.
When we don't know enough about something it's so much easier to shy away. For me it was very much because I didn't want to seem silly in front of others that I just didn't know enough or where to begin.
Anyway, the short story is I had an epiphany and changed. Al Gore's inconvenient truth, coinciding with a brutal early spring bush fire season will do that for you. But I have to tell you, the real catalyst was actually getting my electricity consumption down by 20% and seeing a result on our bill. Then getting our household food waste down by a massive 80%. At that very point of seeing a result I emotionally connected and took ownership of the issue.
I realised in that moment I had extraordinary power to effect change and I thought there must be millions and millions of women out there like I was – disempowered on climate change for whatever reason and shying away from action.
I started 1MW because I knew that women were the change makers of the world. But at the time here in Australia there was not a lot about gender and climate change and certainly nothing that I could see that was linked to our health and wellbeing and the empowerment of women.
But in the years since this intersection has exploded.
At 1MW we don't wait for governments. We rise above politics and everything we do is about reaching women beyond the green belt.
So making 1 Million Women all about women was a no brainer for me. In Australia women make 85% of the purchasing decisions that affect household carbon footprint. We are over half of the Australian electorate. We are powerful natural networkers and have huge influence in the consumer market place.
Opinion polling and other market research consistently shows that women are significantly more likely than men to support stronger action on climate change. Protecting future generations is a hot button issue for women more than men.
More profoundly, we know women and children in the developing world are in the frontline when it comes to climate change and related natural disasters like storms, floods, droughts and famines. Galvanizing and empowering women around the world has become central to fighting the climate crisis.
If women and children of the developing world are the most vulnerable to climate change then women of the wealthy countries have so much to contribute.
Here in Australia we must advance gender equality for climate action.
We must use our influence at home and our communities and our workplaces and the key decision-makers in our governments and our business board rooms need to reflect the full diversity of society and gender equality is absolutely critical to that.
We can never go back to the situation that we had a couple of years ago when our most important climate decision-making body in Australia, the Federal Cabinet, was disgracefully made up of 18 men and only a single woman. Then on top of that, the minister for women that we had to deal with was the Prime Minister himself.
When I started 1 Million Women something I never realised at the time was that once you become an empowered woman it cannot stay contained. It spills over into every aspect of your life and you find your voice and confidence on levels you could never imagine.
I can absolutely promise you that. That's exactly what happened to me.
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We're in a climate emergency and it's going to take all of us to get out of it. That's why 1 Million Women is building a global community of women committed to fighting climate change with our daily actions. To join the (free) movement just click the button below!