Why the World Needs More Women Leaders to Address Sustainability
2022-06-15 | 5 min read
Despite the growth of sustainable technologies around the world, carbon emissions continue to rise. Human-induced climate change threatens to disrupt nature and impact the lives of billions of people—and may disproportionately impact women, according to the United Nations.
“Women are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, because they represent the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on threatened natural resources,” said Ariel Alexovich, Sustainable Development Officer for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations. “Especially in rural areas, where the bulk of responsibility for household water supply and energy for cooking and heating fall on women, the impacts of climate change significantly affect their day-to-day routines, forcing women to have to walk farther for access to resources and creating many more challenges,” she added. “When we have natural disasters, this extends to impact access to healthcare and particularly puts maternal and child healthcare at risk.”
When decision-making measures intended to mitigate the effects of climate change don’t equally call on women leaders, inequalities are further widened. “It’s important that women are put in a position where they are the decision makers and leaders on innovative projects that track carbon emissions and that women have a chance to share their ideas and experiences,” Alexovich said.
This fall, Alexovich will serve as a judge for the Keysight Innovation Challenge, a global competition calling on engineering students around the world to innovate for carbon neutrality monitoring at the community or corporate level. This year, the contest is encouraging women in STEM to participate, requiring that each team includes a woman leader. Alexovich was also a judge for the contest in 2019, when students were asked to design sensor networks to improve our land and waterways.
“As someone who works on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) every day, I loved learning firsthand about students’ new innovative projects that will help us achieve these SDGs by 2030,” Alexovich said. “I particularly like how the contest calls for a team challenge, which is really crucial for the overall implementation of SDGs. You need the scientist who can identify the problem and come up with ways to solve it and other people on the team who will work on data collection, organizing results, writing up the report, and then presenting those findings,” she added, explaining that the Keysight Innovation Challenge calls on people with a variety of skillsets who collaborate together to address one common goal.
At a time when all countries are working to increase their commitments to carbon neutrality to help support The Paris Agreement, the Keysight Innovation Challenge will showcase what students can bring to this global effort. “We can use all the tools and bright ideas that we can get that have the potential to be implemented or developed,” Alexovich said.
“Women leaders can bring so much to the table for this very important issue,” she added. “I’m looking forward to seeing the students’ projects this year and hearing from these women leaders who are our future. I hope this contest gives them confidence and teaches them leadership skills that will be a stepping stone to a successful and fulfilling career.”
For more information on the Keysight Innovation Challenge, visit www.keysightinnovationchallenge.com. A recap of the 2019 contest is available here.