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Empowering Women in Sustainability: Celebrating Achievements and Driving Progress

Friday 08 March


In celebration of United Nations International Women’s Day, we’re taking a moment to recognise and celebrate the remarkable contributions of women in sustainability. From grassroots activists to corporate leaders, women around the world are driving positive change and making significant strides towards a more sustainable future. At Yorkshire Sustainability Festival, we’re passionate about promoting gender equality and empowering women to play a leading role in shaping the green economy.

Highlighting Achievements

This year’s International Women’s Day theme,”Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”, emphasises the importance of investing in women’s full and equal participation in decision-making and development processes. It’s a theme that resonates deeply with us as we witness firsthand the impact of women’s leadership in driving sustainable innovation and positive change. We think that women in sustainability can make a big difference.

Across industries and sectors, women are leading initiatives to combat climate change, promote renewable energy, and advocate for environmental justice. From pioneering research in sustainable agriculture to spearheading community-led conservation projects, women are at the forefront of efforts to build a more resilient and equitable world.

Celebrating Success Stories

At Yorkshire Sustainability Festival, we’re proud to continually support women’s achievements, from our founder, Kate Hutchinson, our speakers at last year’s event (including Jordan Brompton, Jo Fairley, Clover Hogan, Areeba Hamid, Sri Hollema & Pam Warhurst to name a few) and we are delighted to put the spotlight on our very own youth ambassador, Lella Halloum. All of these women exemplify the spirit of Women in Sustainability. Lella’s recent selection as a delegate for the UN CSW68 is a testament to her dedication and leadership in advancing gender equality and environmental sustainability. Her achievements inspire us all to continue our work towards a future where women and girls have equal opportunities to thrive and contribute to a greener, more sustainable world. 

We had a little chat with Lella to see what her thoughts were on this year’s International Women’s Day theme.

What are your thoughts on this year’s International Womens’ Day theme?

As a young professional starting my career amidst this green and digital revolution, I deeply connect with the UN Women’s 2024 theme, “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.” It resonates with my various identities – a student navigating the rising cost of living, a volunteer passionate about positive change, and someone eager to contribute to achieving the fifth Sustainable Development Goal: achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls by 2030.

The pandemic’s impact on progress towards gender equality underscores the importance of ongoing conversations around women’s economic empowerment. As we approach the halfway mark to 2030, the year by which we strive to achieve the Global Goals, I believe it’s crucial to actively work towards narrowing the global gender gap in economic participation and opportunity.

My activism is rooted in advocating for equitable digital and green economic opportunity, the crucial role of girls and youth, and equipping individuals with the skills needed to thrive in this evolving landscape. I believe that by investing in these areas, we can accelerate progress towards a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

Not only does it make economic sense, but investing in women and championing gender equity creates a future where everyone can thrive, creating a world of boundless opportunity and empowerment for all!

Do you think that facilitating gender equality can help grow the green economy?

As Youth Ambassador of Yorkshire Sustainability Festival, reflecting on last year’s conference reaffirms my belief that young people have the power to tackle the world’s biggest challenges – coupled with the power of science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths (STEAM) – ideation and problem-solving is catalysed and we can to impact society and create a greener, more inclusive tomorrow. In research that has been conducted, it is clear that women and girls are incredible, passionate environmental champions and that we bring fresh perspectives to the ideation table. Including our voices unlocks our often untapped potential, and boosts the green economy by fostering innovation through diverse voices. Investing in women in this space isn’t just about fairness, it’s a necessity. Ultimately, we cannot solve today’s challenges with the same thinking that created them

Do you think we will meet SDGs 5th goal by 2030? What steps do you feel we need globally or nationally to reach the goal?

While the current progress towards achieving gender equality by 2030 is concerning – with the World Economic Forum’s latest Gender Gap Report stating gender parity is 131 years away – I remain hopeful because of the fresh thinking and can-do spirit my generation bears. Achieving Global Goal 5 is no doubt daunting, but as an activist for both the sustainability agenda and women’s empowerment, I see them as two sides of the same coin.

Empowering women in the green economy, unlocks a talent pool of environmental champions with fresh perspectives. Equipping girls with quality (STEM) education and providing targeted green job training paves the way for their success while supporting women-led green businesses to unlock their potential and drive sustainable solutions. This combined approach, fuelled by young minds equipped with sustainability skills, can leverage the green economy to create the change needed for a more equitable and sustainable future. It’s a challenging but achievable goal, and I’m committed to using my voice and skills to contribute.

Who is your favourite woman in sustainability/feminist change-maker and why?

I want to flip that question and instead of picking just one favourite woman in sustainability, I’d say the most inspiring change makers I’ve met recently are the young women and girls championing the sustainability agenda, campaigning for action and calling the inaction of our current leaders out!

Seeing my generation take to the stage during Yorkshire Sustainability Week last year is a powerful reminder that we DO have the potential to achieve greatness and be the change we want to see in the world. Representation matters. When we see our peers in positions of influence and power it fuels our determination to drive impactful change and leave an indelible mark.

So as we observe International Women’s Day, we must realise we cannot afford to wait any longer – the longer we wait the more damage will be caused by our absence. We’ve inherited a planet in crisis, and we’re ready to step up and be part of the solution.

That’s why, instead of picking one individual, I say those women and girls (& male allies!) are the real sustainability change makers who inspire me. They remind us that we all have the power to be change makers, no matter our age or background. And that’s the kind of future I’m excited about!

How do you feel to be selected as a delegate for the UN CSW68?

Thrilled wouldn’t even begin to describe it! Representing our community, especially the young women passionate about the green economy at the UN CSW68, feels like a dream come true. It’s a chance to amplify my generation’s voices on a global stage and learn from incredible change makers working on similar issues worldwide.

It’s also a chance to learn from and collaborate with other delegates, experts, and policymakers. Sharing knowledge and experiences will allow me to bring back valuable insights to the Yorkshire Sustainability Festival 2024 (& beyond!) and empower our local community, particularly the young women who are driving change in sustainability.

Honestly, a mix of excitement and determination is bubbling inside me. I’m excited to learn, collaborate, and advocate, but also determined to ensure the voices and solutions of our community are heard at the UN CSW68. It’s a chance to showcase the incredible potential of young people, especially young women, to pave the way for a more sustainable and equitable future, both locally and globally.

Women in Sustainability – Looking Ahead

As we mark International Women’s Day 2024 and honour the achievements of women in sustainability, including our inspirational youth ambassador, Lella, we also reaffirm our commitment to empowering women and promoting gender equality in all aspects of our work and in society as a whole. By investing in women’s leadership and amplifying their voices from a young age, we can accelerate progress towards a more just, inclusive, and sustainable future for all.

We had a whole range of inspiring female speakers at Yorkshire Sustainability Week 2023, not to mention our founder, Kate Hutchinson, and we can’t wait to hear from the speakers that we have lined up for this year. We are proud that the conversations taking place challenge stereotypes and create environments for change within a growing sector.

Join us at this years conference as part of Yorkshire Sustainability Festival and network with other organisations and innovators and change makers, including women in sustainability, for a greener Yorkshire. Tickets are available to purchase now HERE.


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