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Making a Difference for Women in a World in Crisis

The global pandemic has changed the rules of the game. It has redefined how we live and work. And it has also forced businesses, big and small, to reevaluate priorities, reinvent themselves and sometimes even abandon all hope and close down after years of hard work. Today we talk about businesses making a difference for women in this new normal.

While the pandemic has taken its toll, it has also inspired many businesswomen to build resilience and find ways to adapt. Helping the economy, keeping their businesses afloat and proving once again that women not only belong in the workplace, but we are also instrumental in helping it get through the hardest times.

Making a difference for women. Photo Credit- Evgeni Tcherkasski-Unsplash

Making a difference for women. Photo Credit- Evgeni Tcherkasski-Unsplash

Women in a World on Crisis

Women are more likely to work or own businesses in some of the sectors that have been hit most during the pandemic: Hospitality, food services, retail, and so on. In fact, many burgeoning businesses have been forced to either close their doors permanently or take an indefinite break while they come up with a plan. Others have managed to survive by adapting to the times, changing their strategies, and making difficult decisions like laying people off (often people who have helped build the business) and reducing their paychecks and other expenses.

But while the odds are against many of them, we identified a few small businesses that have found ways to remain open. We hope they inspire you to continue making a difference for women in a world in crisis.

Female businesses are key to making a difference for women in a world in crisis- Photo Credit: Siamak-Poorjam- Unsplash

Female businesses are key to making a difference for women in a world in crisis- Photo Credit: Siamak-Poorjam- Unsplash

Adapting and Making a Difference for Women

The ability to blossom professionally in times of COVID is closely related to finding the right way to pivot your business plan. Here are some innovative women who figured it out.

1 Shayla Sheppard, founder and CEO of Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. in Albuquerque, found a way of going from depending primarily on the brewery’s beer hall to selling their products online. She looked at alternatives and ended up including a new canned beer option as well as brand merchandise.

2Crystal Evuleocha is another example of a business owner who was able to pivot her company services. Kliit, the digital health company she founded, provides sexual and reproductive health services and information to people who might be less inclined to go for a checkup. But as hospitals begin to use up all their resources fighting COVID-19, Evuleocha has been working on creating virtual consultations that will allow women to access life-saving information and treatments regardless of what kind of insurance they have.

3Chavonne Hodges, founder of  GrillzandGranola has created Workout from Home sessions for the whole family at affordable prices as well as free therapy sessions when her company was forced to cancel all the health classes, sessions and events once restrictions were enforced in the States. The company offers therapy and coaching sessions that aim to give all underrepresented women of color an “inclusive and culturally-attuned fitness experience”. Aware of the importance of their role in the community, and of the difference they make for women.

4Irma Olguin Jr. is the cofounder of Bitwise Industries, a tech company committed to designing technology that can help people and their businesses grow. The company helps create a more promising future through programs dedicated to teaching people in marginalized communities to code (Geekwise) and employing some of their emerging coding talent to build custom software (Shift3 Technologies.) Olguin also helped create OnwardCa.org in hopes to match people who lost their job as a result of COVID-19 to those needing help. A country-wide version is now being created and can be found at OnwardUS.org.

Building resilience and learning how to pivot can help you make a difference-Photo Credit -Bruce Mars-Unsplash

Building resilience and learning how to pivot can help you make a difference-Photo Credit -Bruce Mars-Unsplash

Reimaging a Post-COVID World

In spite of its many challenges –and perhaps because of them, too– this could be the perfect time for companies to take a good look inside and start to make important changes in the right direction. Towards more inclusive and self-aware corporations that truly care about their communities and want to see them grow and prosper.

Women who are making a difference for their companies and their communities in this precarious economy are a glorious response to all the doubters who still exist out there. Hopefully, the way they have piloted their companies through stormy and unstable waters will serve as inspiration to women with big empire-building dreams. After all, they’re rock stars reimaging a better future.

Some think that it was only a matter of time before something like this came and shook up the way business is conducted around the world. That we’re at a point where global business stakeholders and our own communities need to evolve and embrace inclusivity, collaboration and sustainability – or go under. To change or be buried under those who have come to understand that it’s essential to grow, build partnerships and learn from those already practicing innovation.

 

 

 

 

Apps to Stay Afloat While Working from Home

There is no shame in admitting it: We all need a little help right now. Even the most weathered of home-officers are finding it difficult to stay focused with all that’s going on. So, here are some apps to stay afloat while working from home with your family there

Keeping a stable work schedule can help you achieve some normalcy and stay on top of things while you try to navigate these #IStayAtHome times. Change into comfy work clothes at the beginning of your workday and make sure everyone respects the hours you assign as “office time”. And be sure to respect your partner’s office hours if you’re splitting responsibilities. Apps will help you stay sane, but you’ll have to stick to the plan in order for the ship to run smoothly. (And here are 10 things you can do to stay sane!)

Apps to stay afloat while working at home can make a big difference. Photo Credit- Emma Matthews. Unsplash

Apps to stay afloat while working at home can make a big difference. Photo Credit- Emma Matthews. Unsplash

Create a Quiet Place for Yourself

First thing’s first. Assign a workspace. It’ll help you get “in the zone” and (hopefully) it will make it easier to draw boundaries with your children and partner. Try to keep in mind that kids wander into rooms with shut doors so don’t stress too much about it if it happens.  What matters is for you to have a space that can help you “leave” – or the closest thing to it.

Move things around a bit. If you’re not sure of what to do, you can apply for a free session with designer and Feng Shui expert, Kelly Robinson. Among other things, Robinson will help you make simple changes that will significantly improve your mood and support productivity. Pinterest is another good place to find practical ideas to work with what you’ve got. A nice corner of your own will make you more motivated to get to work.

Administer Your Time

To Do Reminder is an app to set up simple reminders you can create with a speech-to-text option. With so much on your mind, the additional help will make it easier to remember everything to do while trying to manage the different challenges of working from home with your family. Remember the Milk is similar, and allows you to prioritize tasks, which will be important to keep you afloat.

Apps like Swipetimes can help you keep track of your projects, progress and the time you put into it. You can also set alarms to remind you of when to take a break or stop working. It has a punch-in and out tracking feature and can be synchronized with your Google calendar to make sure you stay up to date with deadlines and projects.

Apps like Tick Tick are more thorough, letting you set up a full schedule and use timers that boost your efficiency. If you want something simpler, you can use Marinara Timer, which is free and allows you to either customize your timer (and add team members) or use the Pomodoro method, which times 25-minute work blocks followed by 5-minute breaks.

There are apps that can help you block social media sites you visit often. Photo Credit. Though Catalog. Unsplash

There are apps that can help you block social media sites you visit often. Photo Credit. Though Catalog. Unsplash

Stay Productive

The truth is that at times like these, staying focused and productive can be a battle while working from home. Luckily, technology can help you deal with this too.

1Focus lets you make a list of sites you usually waste time on and then blocks them for you for your chosen duration (Simple Blocker works similarly). This means you won’t be able to wander over to Facebook, Instagram or whatever else is distracting you while you’re supposed to be working. Focuster is a little more ambitious and helps you regain your concentration (which takes about half an hour after being lost) through schedules, to-do lists and goals that help you be extra productive during office hours.

Don't miss my 8 Ideas to Make the Most out of Working from Home!

Manage Teams Successfully

When it comes to apps to stay afloat while working from home, anything that can help with teamwork is key. At a time when you are not spending any face-to-face time with your team, it’s super critical to have an effective way to connect and collaborate. So, if your company hasn’t set up a platform yet, or if you are an entrepreneur, consider the following options:

Microsoft Teams, for example, is a comprehensive, intuitive, simple to use solution with a great free version.

Trello allows a collaborative experience even while working remotely and lets you all keep everyone’s responsibilities organized. Similarly, Asana makes it easy to stay organized and meet team deadlines while everyone works from home.

You can also use apps like Doodle to schedule meetings when they work best for everyone on the team, something that everyone will appreciate.

Stay in touch with your colleagues throughout your workdays. It helps with a feeling of normalcy and provide some much-needed socializing while interactions are limited. Skype allows multiple users to join on video and voice chats, with options for screen sharing. In its free plan Zoom lets up to 100 users join video conferences with options to record, share and even broadcast for 40 minutes.

Identify apps to keep you afloat while working from home by timing your tasks and the breaks you take. Photo Credit- Djurdjica Boskovic- Unsplash

Identify apps to keep you afloat while working from home by timing your tasks and the breaks you take. Photo Credit- Djurdjica Boskovic- Unsplash

Other Useful Apps to Stay Afloat While Working from Home

There are other apps that you probably already now, things like Dropbox and Google Docs to share documents among teammates, WeTransfer and Terashare for large file sharing and Evernote, which will help you take notes in different formats and prioritize ideas.

This is only a selection of some of the most popular apps keeping all of us afloat while working from home.  Which ones are you using? What’s working for you? Please share in the comments!

 

Isolated and alone. Surviving the quarantine

The lack of physical contact and its unclear end, is a hot topic these days. If you are isolated and alone, this moment can be particularly difficult for you.

Perhaps being alone and isolated bring up unpleasant feelings. Knowing that you will not be able to visit people, sit down to have a coffee or a drink with someone, or that you won’t feel the hug of a loved one for a while can be a distressing prospect. Or perhaps you are puzzled about what is happening to you.

Isolated and alone doesn't mean you are locked up. Photo Credit- Joshua Rawson Harris - Unsplash

Isolated and alone doesn’t mean you are locked up. Photo Credit- Joshua Rawson Harris – Unsplash

Understanding what it feels like to be isolated and alone

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Have you had different emotions than usual these past few weeks?
  • Have any of those feelings you had before the pandemic intensified?
  • Could you talk to someone about what is happening to you?
  • Do you think that what you feel is more intense than what other people in a similar situation are feeling?
  • Were you already going through a vulnerable period? (Separation, job loss, mourning, illness, conflicts with your partner or family members, etc.)
  • Are you overly concerned about something or someone?
  • Do you have more physical issues than before?
  • Are you anesthetized and nothing affects you?
  • Do you feel able to get through this situation without professional help? If you can’t, have you tried to connect with someone?

If you’re having a tough time make sure to contact a therapist who can help you and guide you. You’d be surprised at how good it can feel to talk to a professional with whom you can be completely open about what’s going on with you.

Isolated and alone. Surviving the quarantine

Isolated and alone. Surviving the quarantine

Identify what makes you feel bad

1Feeling that the quarantine is permanent

No matter how many days the quarantine lasts, even if they it is much longer than you would like, always remember that this isolation is temporary.

2Feeling like you’re following an order

Social isolation is a way to take care of ourselves. It may be a rule or recommendation from the authorities of your country, but it is also a decision of each one of us to respect the isolation for our own good and that of the people with whom we live or interact, as well as for the good of the community at large. If you can think of it as everyone’s responsibility, you will feel better than if you think of it as a mandatory rule against your will.

3Feeling like you are “locked up”

It is essential to make the distinction between isolation and confinement. It is true that being quarantine means we are physically isolated most of the time, but we are not locked up. Depending on the city you are in, it is very likely that you can go out to buy food or medicine. Something you wouldn’t be able to do were you locked up. Keep this in mind because the feeling of confinement can lead to more anxiety.

Especially nowadays it is important to think about the way to “get out”, without ever leaving your home. Building an exteriority does not necessarily have to do with stepping on the street.

4Feeling like you are working all the time

If you are doing home office, in many cases working hours have expanded and the level of demand intensified. Add to that the fact that everything takes longer since you must also do other tasks that you didn’t have to do before, or maybe that you need to share the computer with someone else in your family. The tasks have multiplied but the hours of the day remain the same twenty four.

It is essential that, on the one hand you can take breaks and take care of your basic needs such as eating, resting, recreation, hydration, etc. And on the other, that, as far as possible, you do the kinds of things you normally did when you weren’t in quarantine. Meetings with friends, partner, dating online, etc. If there is one thing we can be grateful for is the easy access to video calls that allows us to stay close to others.

5Feeling like you are disconnected even though you are hyperconnected

It is easy to fall into feeling disconnected when you only communicate with others by text message or recorded messages. Try not to abuse the chat. It is better to choose one person every day with whom you can have a phone call or video call, than to be texting for hours with one or more people. We have become unaccustomed to talking on the phone with our loved ones. It is not the same to send an audio, where there is only one open channel and when nobody knows if at certain point one of you will become distracted or busy with something else, suddenly interrupting the communication. The voice provides a particular support when two people are talking synchronously. It makes you feel closer to each other.

6Feeling that no one thinks of you

This is not the time to make mental calculations of how many times you called someone versus how many they call you. Just pick up the phone and call the person you know will feel good to talk to. It is a time to build ties and not to erode them. Try to talk rather than complain because they haven’t called you. We are at a very particular time when people are very susceptible and it’s really impossible to know how this is affecting others in your circle.

If you are having a good time and enjoying being isolated and alone, take advantage of it, do not feel guilty. You can share your well-being with others and offer some encouragement and ideas.

Find moments to connect with yourself. Photo Credit- Zen Bear Yoga- Unsplash

Find moments to connect with yourself. Photo Credit- Zen Bear Yoga- Unsplash

3 additional tips to survive the quarantine alone

1Release your inner star

You can make home videos. They can be very funny and who knows, you may end up being a YouTuber influencer. Have a sense of humor. A patient of mine who lives in Spain, is isolated and alone in a house in the mountains. Although she is always very “proper”, she has found her funny and theatrical side and began filming herself. It has had a great effect on her and her acquaintances. Humor is a great tool to overcome difficulties.

2Renew your wardrobe

How about parading in front of the mirror, trying outfits you haven’t tried in a while? You can create new ones combining clothes in completely innovative ways. Take pictures of them to remember them when you can go out again.

Do you have clothes that you no longer wear? You can take them out of the closet and give them away or alter them. Change the buttons, cut the sleeves, the neck or anything else you fancy.

3Build a mutual promotion network

I’m sure you know people who are doing things and can’t promote them enough. Or those who have been trying to adjust their business or start a new one to make ends meet. You can build a network by connecting people to each other, and ask them to do the same. For example, an educator I know started to put together a WhatsApp group to offer older people support and free activities that help them with cognitive processes. She needed a professional brochure that she couldn’t put together herself. I connected her to a graphic designer who was looking to increase her work. The result was that the designer created a very professional brochure that attracted new clients to the educator. I know dozens of cases like these, especially at this time when we are all reinventing our jobs. Surely you can also find a way to help others.

Here are more creative things to do during the quarantine!
Isolated and alone but hyperconnected- Photo Credit Engin Akyurt- Unsplash

Isolated and alone but hyperconnected- Photo Credit Engin Akyurt- Unsplash

While we are going through a global crisis, as in any crisis, great opportunities will appear. By staying alert and activating your creativity you will be able to identify the things you must do along the way to go through the quarantine isolated and alone as best as possible and to take advantage of everything that can help you get out of this situation in a much better shape than you expected.

If you are looking for a professional community to support you, we are here for you!

Aric Dromi Helps Design the Future We Wish to Live In

Aric Dromi is a keynote speaker, futurologist, digital philosopher and self-proclaimed professional troublemaker who helps people and organizations design the future they wish to live in.

He has one simple mission: inspiring a change in the way the world and the technologies that govern it are viewed and experienced. To question the status quo and stimulate the kind of critical thinking that’ll shift priorities and better equip us against challenges ahead. Challenges we’re not prepared for.

Aric is passionate about the transformation necessary at political, societal and personal levels in preparation of a rapidly evolving future and the technologies taking over it. He is CEO and founder of TEMPUS.MOTU and creator of Dead Rabbit Society – both dedicated to coming up with ways to make the world and its leaders take notice of a fast-moving digital era we are already a part of.

Here’s what the story-maker had to tell Red Shoe Movement about experiencing technology, the importance of critical thinking and creativity, and navigating our way through a new technological revolution that’ll be like nothing humankind has experienced before.

Aric Dromi helps people and organizations think about how to design the Future

Aric Dromi helps people and organizations think about how to design the Future

How to design the future

Aline Cerdá­n— Can you explain a little more about your role as a futurologist and what it entails? What are some of the elements you consider when navigating the future?

Aric Dromi— always take the simple approach answering the question of what a futurologist is. I tell stories about potential futures that could happen and reverse engineer these potentials into concepts and trajectories of futures that should happen. In this context, you can’t merely be reactive but rather build proactive frameworks that can design future trends. If you do that, you control the narratives of the future. Navigating the future is about controlling the waves, then the wind, and the sea rather than building better ships.

AC—How will things like work, life, and travel change? Is there a way to prepare for a digital age?

AD—We live in a world where technology is augmenting almost every aspect of our lives and enabling us to enhance our virtual presence using code. Empathy, freedom, wellbeing, intelligence, education, governance, creativity, economics, and politics are the primary benefactors of the exponential growth and impact of technology.

For the first time in the history of humankind, natural evolution has reached the zenith of its potential. There is no place to go from a biological point of view. Yes, we might become a little faster and jump a bit higher, but we have reached a point where our organic structure cannot evolve anymore. Even with genetic modifications – sooner or later – we will hit the limit of our evolutionary potential.

We live in a world where technology is observing us more than we are observing it, and it is reality, the information doesn’t exist behind the screen anymore – we are the information. Every aspect of our existence is being quantified, stored, and monetized. This has already fundamentally changed (even if not on the societal level) the narratives of work, travel, mobility, and more. The App economy improves the way we book a hotel, order taxi, pay for services, work remotely etc.

I don’t think we should put any effort into preparing for a digital age, as we are already living in one. My main concern is that we keep driving our economic models based on buzz words that force our resources to focus on technology rather on the development of humankind, individuals and strategic thinking.

When we keep building “smart” things (smart phones, smart cities, smart cars) the word smart means Technology. We keep surrounding ourselves with technology and forgetting that our entire infrastructure, that may be cities, legal, educational, political and economic models can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. Moving forward, we need to rethink the fundamental building blocks of societal development and evolution or we are simply building a house of cards.

Sergio Kaufman of Accenture shares how technology levels the playing field for women
Helping design the future you want. Photo Credit Clay Banks.Unsplash

Helping design the future you want. Photo Credit: Clay Banks. Unsplash

AC—How are algorithms affecting us as human beings? How can we rethink the way we experience technology?

AD—What is an algorithm? It’s math and code coming together creating a set of routines that are designed to solve a problem (OK, I’m over simplifying). How many people actually understand what an algorithm is? Yet we are surrounded, directed, and even manipulated, by algorithms every day. From phone notifications, to content recommendations, digital communication, food consumption, online shopping, and social interactions, algorithms are the invisible puppet masters that frame our existence in the modern age. I’m not trying to be negative, but rather emphasize the need to better research and understand the side effects (that are fast becoming the new norm) of living in a world where the control strings are written in code.

AC— What is The Dead Rabbit’s Society? What is it about discomfort that helps challenge the status quo and better design the future?

AD— The Dead Rabbit Society was born out of few lectures I did with students outside the normal academic framework. I saw a need to rethink the narratives of education and the objectivity of the important questions we need to ask ourselves to secure our desired future. In a world of sanitized, politicized and agenda-filled news broadcasts, finding the truth has become a full-time job. We are confronted by a cacophony of trite media stories that have little or nothing to do with our reality in the present or, more importantly, the future. Yet for all the noise there is no clarity, no critical thinking, no objective voices to defend our society from an imminent future for which we are more than ill-prepared.

The Dead Rabbit Society’s role in all of this is to highlight the major questions of our time and to get people thinking about potential solutions the will carry us forward toward our desired future.

We do this via our online community, through hosting events, conferences and keynotes and we are embarking on an ambitious plan to produce documentaries around these questions. The first documentary will examine The Future of Work in a world that will be increasingly run by artificial intelligence and automated production capacity.

Aric Dromi speaks about how to design the future. Photo Credit Owen Beard. Unsplash

Aric Dromi speaks about how to design the future. Photo Credit Owen Beard. Unsplash

People don’t seem to have fully grasped the implications of AI and automation. Our society is on the verge of seismic changes, the likes of which we have not seen since the Industrial Revolution. This revolution will also displace a lot of employees and professions. But it won’t just be truck drivers and taxi drivers that are affected. Lawyers, doctors, surgeons – all manner of professions will be threatened by this technological revolution. But you don’t hear people talking about this. Our goal is to change that. We would like to highlight the issues, the questions, and have people put pressure on their political representatives to come up with a direction, a strategy for a future where we may not be employed as we currently know it. We can either sit back and hope that someone puts the genie back in the bottle, or we can be proactive and try to shape the narrative so that the future we encounter is one of our own making and not the result of a string of poorly made decisions based on incomplete facts that exclude the most important component of our future – people.

What we have seen so far is that most people are blissfully ignorant of the coming changes and have blind faith that things will work out for the best. Guess what – they won’t. Without clear and agreed direction we will be at the mercy of despots, corporations the size of continents and we will be slaves to our own data footprint. We have a choice. The Dead Rabbit Society’s aim is to highlight the choices and instigate an informed discussion.

Companies design the future by thinking differently

AC—How can companies instill a culture of creativity and risk-taking?

AD— I think the keyword here is “culture”. Companies must remember that we are born into culture, we are not born with culture. It is something we learn through the interaction set by our environment. To instill a culture of creativity and risk-taking you must have an assertive leadership team’s commitment to set the example.

Focusing on increasing your core earning model – and forgetting how to nurture and defend it – will never give you the tools and know-how to expand the foundation of your business.

So, this is the end destroying the means. If you focus on how profitable your business is today, your organization will not be productive tomorrow. Engaging in iterative change ensures you follow the pack as opposed to reap the rewards of being a thought-leader. Fear is the spawn of ignorance. If you only consider what has happened – or worse, what is happening – you can’t help us with tomorrow. Learn from the past, be present in the moment and let that insight allow you to think differently about the future.

We are in a major technological revolution. Photo Credit Johannes Plenio. Unsplash

We are in a major technological revolution. Photo Credit: Johannes Plenio. Unsplash

Traits we need to prepare for what’s coming

AC—What can we do to educate ourselves on connectivity and the way we experience technology? What traits and abilities will we need moving forward to design the future we want to live in?

AD—I would start by asking the question, what does it mean to be human in a world where technology determines almost every aspect of our existence? I think we have already passed the point of no return where we can “live” without technology and as such we should find way to partner with it to define the next steps of human evolution. We need better-educated leaders and politicians. We need a better understanding of policymaking.

We can easily list the skills that today’s children will need to successfully navigate the future:

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Originally
  • The ability to solve complex problems
  • Emotion and passion

But why is that list different from the skills we have always needed to excel in life and rise to the apex of our own potential? The truth is it’s not!

We do, however, need a set of new ideas for these skills:

  • We can’t use code the same way we use bricks
  • We need to move from managing-for-profit, to managing-for-impact
  • Experience should be measured by the quality of choices and not by the number of its functions
  • Don’t confuse symptoms with the appearance and root cause
  • Assets need to build up into properties and capital to deliver value to society
  • Think of technology as a legal system. The legal system was designed to be used (and sometimes abused) by lawyers – entrepreneurs use technology – technology is never the end goal, but simply a path.

We shouldn’t focus on experiencing technology but how technology can enable us to better experience ourselves and life. Think of technology as fire. Mankind learned how to tame fire (for the most part) – but we have already lost control of technology. This needs to change – quickly.

We have already lost control of technology. Photo Credit: William Daigneault. Unsplash

We have already lost control of technology. Photo Credit: William Daigneault. Unsplash

AC—How can concepts like morality and trust be redefined? Who will determine what the code of conduct in the digital age should be?

AD— I often ask people in my keynotes: If I visit a brothel run by robots and have sex with a robot, did I cheat on my wife? Can she rightfully sue me for divorce? What if someone hacked my artificial intelligence digital assistant and deleted the code. Can I sue that person for murder? I don’t have one simple answer around the future of morality, ethics and trust but rather a suggestion. We need to understand that our current system will never scale into a future that is anchored in code. We need to start telling stories about potential futures and stress-test them in front of policymakers to better help them rethink the process narratives that they use to design their policies. We can do this in a number of ways:

  • Identifying the unknowns in domains critical to the stability and development of humankind’s current societal structure
  • Defining the questions around which leaders and politicians can design a desired vision of the future
  • Developing strategies to realize this future by implementing the necessary tools and processes to deliver on the desired vision
  • Designing a set of experiments and scenarios in various domains to better prepare local, national and global leadership to tackle the upcoming challenges.

This is how we work with policymakers and governments, high business leaders and NGOs with our Think– Do–Rethink Tank, www.tempusmotu.org

Only by bringing the best minds together and providing space for them to develop these potential future narratives can we stress-test them and improve them through an iterative process. This is something that I am extremely passionate about.

In the end it is about defining the world you wish to live in, modelling it, testing it and improving it. If we continue to use the past as the gateway to the future we will not move very far. This is challenge I put to every leader I speak to. We can make the world a better place, if we want to.

Greta Thunberg and the rise of powerful young female voices

A teenage environmentalist becoming TIME’s Person of the Year is one of the things I loved most about a year that was often difficult to deal with. It’s symptomatic of the rise of powerful young female voices that is defining our times.

I’ll be honest, it puts my own inconsiderate teenage years into a harsh perspective, but while the adult part of me is deeply ashamed of needing young girls like Greta Thunberg to take matters into their hands, it provides vital hope in a time of crisis. Hope that these new strong young female voices that are fighting for the world have inherited not just the chaos previous generations have created, but also the courage to bring the necessary change around.

Greta Thunberg striking for climate change- Post from her Instagram account

Greta Thunberg striking for climate change- Post from her Instagram account

One of the most powerful young female voices today

She may only be a teenager, but Thunberg knows what she wants and won’t stop until she’s made sure people are listening. She has managed to get attention where others have failed to do so; she’s achieved commitment where there was none before, inspired young and not-so young to act and shamed those who continue to fail to do what’s right, no matter who they are or how they may retaliate.

She speaks frankly; she doesn’t do sugarcoating. Greta knows that we’re running out of time to right some of our wrongs before it’s too late. She offers facts and expects them to be enough to scare world leaders into action. To scare people into demanding a change from the politicians in charge.

Unless something is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s temperature will continue to rise. According to scientists this will “expose some 350 million additional people to drought and push roughly 120 million people into extreme poverty by 2030”.

With a future that’s increasingly bleak and world leaders who don’t seem very interested in doing something about it, it’s no wonder that she’s gone from a muted depression to anger that’s gone viral. Anger that represents thousands.

The face of a youth-led climate movement first heard about climate change at school and tumbled deep into depression triggered by hopelessness and disbelief. How could global warming be a reality if politicians and world leaders were doing nothing about it? How  could adults be so unconcerned by the dreary future being handed down to children? How could they not listen to warnings scientists have given us for years?

Young female voices are leading the fight over many key topics of our times- Photo Credit: Markus Spiske- Unsplash

Young female voices are leading the fight over many key topics of our times- Photo Credit: Markus Spiske- Unsplash

At first, she went quiet and stopped eating, inspiring her family to make changes in lifestyle like giving up meat, growing their own food and installing solar panels to appease her anxiety. Gradually, she began to find her voice once again. An uncompromising, no-bullshit voice that she’s been using to wake the world up to the urgency of the planet’s current situation.

Greta’s Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis may have explained why she took her findings on the condition of the planet so hard, but as her father pointed out to TIME, she’s not wrong. While she has been mocked and bullied, her uncompromising passion and straightforward approach has also reached millions.

Her outrage at being forced to begin a climate strike instead of enjoying her childhood made an impression, especially on other young people who share her anger and disappointment. As they should. The demonstrations that have happened worldwide have brought about the kind of pressure that’s hard for leaders to ignore.

Emmanuel Macron told TIME that these weekly demonstrations by young people helped him change, “You cannot remain neutral”.

So, it’s probably a good thing that youths seem so involved. That Greta is not alone in wanting to make things happen where “grown-ups” have failed to succeed, or to even try. According to Al Gore, a Nobel Prize Winner for decades in climate advocacy, “many great morally based movements have gained traction at the very moment when young people decided to make that movement their cause”.

This could be a good sign considering young people, young women, seem to be at the forefront of change. Different, real, flawed, diverse, eloquent, young women who are making big things happen. It’s pretty inspiring.

I often wonder about the kind of woman my niece will grow into as a product of the world she’s been inherited. Of a world that’s fought for great new freedoms and has bred unlikely social champions unwilling to watch it burn. A world that’s at a breaking point that has forced kids out of classrooms to stand up and do what adults can no longer be trusted to do.

Powerful young female voices being heard worldwide. Photo Credit: Brianna Santellan. Unsplash

Powerful young female voices being heard worldwide. Photo Credit: Brianna Santellan. Unsplash

In recent years, names like Jamie Margolin (climate change), Emma González (gun control), Marley Diaz (diversity representation), Malala Yousafzai (education for women and girls), Mari Copeny (access to drinkable water) and Zoey Luna (trans youth rights) have proved that Greta is not only not alone in her fight to create awareness – she’s in good company. With more young female voices rising above the static as we stumble into the next decade.

I found the women I looked up to making music, or movies or writing stories. It worked for me – their messages were empowering and helped me define who and how I wanted to be in a lot of ways. It felt a little more self-involved on my side though, more limited. More about changing myself than changing the world. It feels like these kids are changing the world.

At sixteen, Greta is the youngest person to take the title given by the magazine every year. She joins Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Pope Francis in the long list of names who have claimed the cover, which has pleased some and, unsurprisingly, annoyed a few others. The unconventional young hero makes me feel ashamed of myself, but also excited about what she means to girls watching.

The women my niece will look up to are fighting for others. They tear through social convention. They are everywhere. They do everything. And, in a lot of ways, they’re just like her.

Read about the Women’s March that took place in the US