What do you think is the role of women in creating positive change?

Servane Mouazan: Women in social businesses, activists, community leaders, tend to have a very close relationship with their local communities, and develop campaigns, products and services that consciously aim to make people’s lives better… By supporting them, you contribute to creating a sustainable positive change in someone’s world… That said I think it works if people understand the roles of economics and ethics, if their views are inclusive, if they operate with a sense that social, environemtnal cultutral and financial bottom lines, need to be aligned, for a community to thrive.

Women social entrepreneurs can influence supply chains to be more sustainable and by taking up leadership roles (as local or as global as they want or can) they are changing stereotypes about their role in society and thereby, are also influencing next generations of citizens, consumers, entrepreneurs, to adopt conscious bottom lines.

Yet there are facts we need to challenge urgently, for instance:  increasing numbers of women are studying science, engineering and technology (SET) degrees, but over 70% drop out of SET careers, compared with half of men. This is a huge waste of investment, talent and opportunity, especially as the key challenges of our time such as renewable energy, food security, medical advances,  require diversity of technical and societal engagement. (UKRC for women in SET 2011)

What do you think are the most pressing challenges of our time?

I would say, and it is not exhaustive…

- Poor access, preservation or distribution of basic resources such as clean water, clean air, clean food, clean energy.

- Lack of education and mental health support. (Education can also be around understanding how voting can influence your life, your community, education is also about being able to make choices that will positively (and simultaneously) impact on yourself, your community, your environment and future generations)

- Lack of social mobility.

What are your top 3 ways to make a big impact?

1. Provide space and resources to women to create solutions to the issues above, as consumers or as entrepreneurs. It is creating a massive ripple effect. Women control nearly two-thirds of consumer spending, - (http://www.forumforthefuture.org/greenfutures/articles/single-mums-lead-global-green-spend ) and an EMAP survey found them 12% more likely than men to buy environmentally friendly products and services, and 10% more likely to pay attention to what companies said about their environmental impact.

2. Enable open innovation, breaking cognitive silos, get out of the same old ways of seeing the world. I want to be in a world where people are comfortable to hear and learn from the fringes of their networks, and envisage new perspectives.

3. Support people with wellbeing and mental health resources. 

What are the biggest obstacles slowing or preventing large scale global change from happening? 

Authorities AND citizens sadly are both the victims and the biggest obstacles! I do think it’s everybody’s responsibility to answer the question. Not just governments.

Often there is no shortage of resources, but it’s the will to access them, or the awareness they exist, or the capacity to connect ideas with people or other resources, that creates a massive block to positive impact. 

I would say false perceptions and long term assumptions about women is another massive obstacle. Women have been confined for centuries in places that are in no way naturally linked to their sex but are rather acquired functions. It’s a challenge to make large chunks of the population understand that women are valuable scientists, technicians, engineers, etc and not just mere second class citizens.

If we still adopt short sighted tools or assumptions to meet our needs without a long term sustainable view, we are at risk. A quadruple bottom line is necessary to maintain harmony. Authorities and citizens themselves in their life/work choices, have to push for regenerative economies and behaviours to prevail. If finance or consumer choices don’t take in account wellbeing, inclusion, or biodiversity, we are lost.

About Servane Mouazan

Servane is a conscious leadership advisor and social innovation coach, based in the UK. She also runs Ogunte CIC, an organisation that works with women who want to make a positive impact on people and planet. www.ogunte.com

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