Celebrating Female Leadership on International Women’s Day

 By Sivaja K Nair, Senior Campaigner, RISE UP

Sivaja K Nair and Flora McMorrin

Growing up in India and pursuing a professional education in social sciences has naturally sensitized me to the pressing issues of gender justice. Continuously striving to deepen my understanding of gender dynamics, I recently delved into the Global Gender Gap Report 2023, by the World Economic Forum. One key finding of the report is that the progress in closing the gender gap has slowed. Despite improvements in educational attainment, women continue to be underrepresented in the high-skilled, high-paying sector and in leadership roles.  

This came as no surprise to me considering my personal experiences in my professional spaces. 

When the opportunity arose to join RISE UP, as a Senior Campaigner, I was genuinely excited to collaborate with a seasoned and capable female colleague, Flora McMorrin, who leads RISE UP. During the course of a few weeks on the job, I have attended a drove of meetings with the members and partners of RISE UP. To my surprise, I have met a plethora of women in leadership roles, each excelling in their respective domains of expertise.

What unites these remarkable women is their unwavering dedication to the cause and their relentless drive to push forward despite the social challenges. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I find it fitting to highlight their voices and perspectives, inspiring us to strive for a world where every individual, regardless of gender, has equal rights, opportunities, and recognition for their talents and contributions. In honor of this occasion, I’m delighted to present the reflections and aspirations of these women leaders for the year ahead.

Rebecca Hubbard, Director, High Seas Alliance

Just over a year ago, I got the opportunity to leverage my 19-year commitment to protecting the ocean by working on an international Treaty that can protect two-thirds of the global ocean, for the High Seas Alliance. One year later for me, but 20 years later for some of my extraordinary colleagues, the High Seas Treaty has been agreed, adopted, signed by 88 countries and ratified by 2. For it to become international law (and actually protect life in the high seas), we need 60 countries to ratify the Treaty. This year, I know that we will build on the awe-inspiring momentum that the HSA team created over the last 20 years – like a family of orcas roaming the high seas (who are also matriarchal) – we will stick together and support this powerful community to be an unstoppable, unifying wave of action and secure 60 country ratifications by June 2025. Not just because we can, but because we must.

Rebecca Hubbard, Director, High Seas Alliance

Editrudith Lukanga, Founding Secretary General – AWFISHNET, Executive Director of EMEDO

The celebration of International Women’s Day 2024 aligns with the 10th anniversary of endorsing the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Alleviation (SSF guidelines). This milestone comes after the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) 2022, highlighting the SSF guidelines’ pivotal role in securing sustainable small-scale fisheries. Both the SSF guidelines and IYAFA stress the need for concerted efforts to achieve gender equality, recognizing women in SSF as custodians of shared resources. Despite this, women face challenges, including access to markets and infrastructure which are vital for sustainable value chains and decent living conditions. Reinforcing women’s role in SSF is crucial for their empowerment and contribution to food security. As part of the decade of SSF guidelines, a comprehensive examination of the gender section of the guidelines is imperative. Active involvement of women in implementation can empower them, address

Editrudith Lukanga, Founding Secretary General – AWFISHNET, Executive Director of EMEDO

Sian Owen, Director, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

At the anniversary of the adoption of the High Seas Treaty, the world is entering an ambitious new era of ocean governance and action. 2024 will be important for the deep sea as governments negotiate and either affirm and operationalize or negate their commitments to ocean health. With a target under the Global Biodiversity Framework to fully protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 and ensure sustainable management of the remaining 70%, there is no place for activities like deep-sea bottom trawling and mining. This year, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition is focused on the phase out of bottom trawling on seamounts in the high seas, and achieving a moratorium on the push to open the seabed to deep-sea mining, the largest extractive industry ever proposed. The counter forces are powerful, but the tide of opposition continues to build in recognition that we are all connected to our planet’s beating blue heart – the deep sea.

Sian Owen, Director, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

Loreley Picourt, Executive Director, Ocean and Climate Platform

Both a powerful carbon sink and heat reservoir, the ocean is our best ally in the fight against climate change. Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, at COP21 we have gone a long way to recognise the role of the ocean in regulating the global climate system. At COP28, in Dubai, the outcomes of the first ever Global Stocktake clearly acknowledged the role of ocean and its ecosystems to course correct and deliver the 1.5°C target. Every step of the way, the Ocean community has been strongly mobilized to raise the voice of the ocean and scale-up action. As our collective lighthouse, we have launched the Ocean Breakthroughs around five key sectors. These science-based targets identify turning points to reach by 2030 to achieve a healthy and productive ocean in 2050. At the crossroads of all challenges facing humanity, the ocean connects, sustains, and supports us all.

Loreley Picourt, Executive Director, Ocean and Climate Platform

Inspired by the reflections and aspirations shared by these remarkable women, I will heed their call to action and embark on the year ahead with renewed determination. Together, we can continue to advocate for equal rights, opportunities, and recognition for all individuals, regardless of gender, while safeguarding our precious ocean.

You can find out more about RISE UP and how you can get involved here


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Date Published: 8th March 2024