Women4Climate, Women Deliver Conference
In early June, I had the honour of participating in The Power of We: Women and the Environment session at the Women Deliver Conference, the largest conference on gender equity and health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women. Before stepping onto the stage, I had never sat on a public panel or participated in any kind of off-script presentation. To be honest, it hadn’t occurred to me that I could contribute to a conversation worthy of a paying audience.
Being accepted into C40’s Women4Climate program has been a series of such discoveries. Its mandate to empower and inspire the next generation of climate leaders has given legitimacy, support and a platform to women such as myself whose passion and potential are unlimited, yet vulnerable, to the challenges inherent in a patriarchal system.
As a Landscape Architect, every day I am tasked with designing our built environment, a role traditionally dominated by men. I consider it a privilege that contributes to the health and vitality of a community and its environment. It requires technical expertise, literal ‘nuts and bolts’, but it also requires great sensitivity and thoughtfulness.
As a Women4Climate mentee, my initiative has been to embed sustainability and Climate Action into the practice of Landscape Architecture, both in the office I work (PWL Partnership) and the broader profession. It’s a vague yet mighty task. I’ve worked closely with my mentor, Kathy Wardle, to develop strategies to organize my thoughts, make my case, develop a plan, garner support and maintain momentum.
During the Women Deliver session, I was invited to share this experience in conversation with Councillor Adriane Carr, another mentor in the Women4Climate program. It was an intimidating but rewarding experience - not just to participate in the session itself, but to be invited in the first place. I feel immense gratitude to the many people who organized and encouraged my participation, and to Adriane for her coaching and support.
What has been unique about this experience in particular - and the Women4Climate program in general - is that I’ve been able to celebrate and hone my expertise rather than to expend energy proving it. In a room and program full of female leaders, there is no pressure to represent an entire gender and much less struggle to be heard. Instead, we can focus on the task at hand: building a better, more equitable future for all.
By Sophie MacNeil, Women4Climate Mentee