International Womens Day 2021

isla is delighted to play our part in this mission, bringing the live event industry together to effect change and provide action-oriented solutions. We're committed to leading change in the event industry to accelerate the transition to sustainability as we work together to address our climate crisis. 

On International Women’s Day, we here at isla are keen to highlight the importance of equal representation within sustainability in business as we support this year’s theme #ChoosetoChallenge, which encourages us to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality. 

With this in mind, as well as our own commitment to support equal representation, we align with the drive by the SHE Changes Climate campaign to create a 50:50 gender balance at the top levels of the COP26 leadership teams at this year’s November conference in Glasgow.

What is COP26?

COP (Conference of the Parties) is an annual event of the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Heads of state, climate experts and negotiators will meet to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change, with space for countries, international organisations and other delegates to showcase climate action, highlight diverse climate change issues and share knowledge.

In bid to achieve a more sustainable and resilient future for us all, the UK’s COP26 team encourages everyone to work together as a nation to protect our planet and that which lives on it. 

isla is delighted to play our part in this mission, bringing the live event industry together to effect change and provide action-oriented solutions. 

What is SHE Changes Climate?

SHE Changes Climate is a female-empowerment campaigning organisation that was set up in December 2020 to campaign for gender parity at the top levels of the UK COP26 negotiating team. 

Before SHE Changes Climate was founded, there were no female representatives in the UK’s COP26 leadership team. The campaign sent an open letter to Boris Johnson in December 2020, imploring him to address this imbalance as a matter of urgency. 

Over four hundred signatures accompanied the letter, many from female environmental leaders. The letter caught the attention of a number of press and media sources and the campaign was featured on the BBC Woman’s Hour, Marie Claire magazine, The Financial Times, and BBC Newsnight

So what has SHE Changes Climate achieved?

When the campaign started, there were no top positions filled by women in the COP26 leadership team. Four months into the campaign, there are now 3/12. This is fantastic progress, but there’s still a way to go. 

Anne-Marie Trevelyan has been appointed to the lead team as the UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience. Two female directors were also appointed: Ros Eales, as COO, and Caroline Holtum as Director of Communications. 

Whilst the campaign has turned a significant corner, there is still much more to be done in order to achieve gender equality. If we want to see active and progressive change to the climate crisis globally, it’s imperative that there’s equal representation in the teams leading the way.  

Why is equal representation important to sustainability?

The evidence shows that women and girls are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published a study with the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) titled: Gender and Climate Change: Overview of linkages between gender and climate change that stated there can be no genuine sustainable human development without gender equality.

“Despite growing recognition of the …unique experiences and skills women and men bring to development and environmental sustainability efforts, women still have less economic, political and legal clout and are hence less able to cope with – and are more exposed to – the adverse effects of the changing climate.” 

This same study declared a number of sobering facts in relation to just how disproportionately women are affected by climate change. 

These included the fact that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women, and that nine in ten countries have laws impeding women’s economic opportunities, such as those which bar women from factory jobs, working at night, or getting a job without permission from their husband.

What is perhaps most concerning is the study finds that globally, women earn 24% less than men and hold only 25% of administrative and managerial positions in the business world. 32% of businesses have no women in senior management positions and women still hold only 22% of seats in single or lower houses of national parliament. 

Even in more progressive countries where women have a legal right to equality and access to education, it’s clear from these studies that they are still losing out to male counterparts in all aspects. 

SHE Changes Climate has recognised this imbalance within the UK’s top level representatives for COP26, and they are determined to change it. Equal representation has to start at the top if we want to see the benefits filter through to the women in the under-represented areas who need it. 

What still needs to be done and how can you get involved?

There are a number of ways you can add your voice to this critical campaign. The leaders have compiled a list of women with experience in climate, negotiation and UK politics and have taken these names to Alok Sharma, COP26 president. 

It is their aim that over the coming months, more women will be appointed to roles within the COP26 team, and that by the time the conference starts in November, they will have achieved the desired 50:50 balance.

The campaign is planning a Twitter storm today 8th March, on International Women’s Day, to COP26 president, Alok Sharma, about the lack of gender diversity in the leadership team. 

They are encouraging everyone to tweet @AlokSharma_RDG to help highlight the importance of addressing this issue.

You can find out more on getting involved in the Twitter storm here, and you can also:

  • Sign the campaign letter. The more voices and names supporting the campaign, the greater the impact. 
  • Share the SHE changes Climate newsletter with your contacts within women’s and diversity groups and encourage them to subscribe via their website to help grow the community.
  • You are actively encouraged to download their Digital Toolkit and keep sharing the ready-made content to your social channels. Don’t forget to tag using @SheClimate so they can see it and share the support!

It’s clear that a primary driving factor to succeeding in addressing climate change and sustainability is implementing a gender balanced system that opens up the dialogue for finding better solutions. 

isla is committed to helping set this example by providing education and training to everyone in the events industry. We welcome this important and vital shift towards equality as we work together to address our climate crisis. 

Happy International Women’s Day 2021. We #ChoosetoChallenge.

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