TEDWomen 2015 was dedicated to “explore the bold ideas that create momentum in how we think, live and work.” Not surprisingly, TEDWomen did not disappoint in delivering an experience that inspired new ideas and challenged old belief systems. As I reflect on the event, I’ve found the following idea to be one “worth spreading”:
Climate Change: Gender equality and climate change are interdependent
Climate change may not seem like an obvious topic for a conference centered on women’s issues. Yet Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and current United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, explained that she became involved in climate change because of its direct impact on people. In fact, she states that “Climate change is the largest threat to human rights in the 21st century.” She proclaims that we must change our “business as usual” approach in order to rebalance our currently very unequal world. As it relates to climate change, we should “be on the side of those most affected” and “make sure they are not left behind.” She calls for complete human solidarity to help developing countries grow without emissions.
In turn, Jane Fonda also speaks to the urgency of addressing climate change. In an intimate conversation between Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Pat Mitchell, the trio address wide-ranging topics from leadership to friendship. As the conversation shifts towards conscientious consumption, Fonda points out, “If we begin to use renewable energy, and not drill in the Arctic or the Alberta Tar Sands, there will be more democracy, more jobs and more well being… and its women who are going to lead the way.” For her, climate change is inextricably linked to women’s leadership.
In addition to the incredible talks at TEDWomen, many incredible short videos were shared. One of my favorites was a poem read at the 2014 UN Climate Summit called Dear Matafele Peinem. In the poem, there is a line that says: “We deserve to do more than survive, we deserve to thrive.” While the poem refers directly to climate change, I believe this line fully captures the messages at TEDWomen. As we seek positive momentum for our planet, our organizations, and ourselves, we must reflect on what it is to thrive. Only then can we spark, surface, seduce, sustain, shift and share social change.
Watch the Dear Matafele Peinem poem read at the 2014 UN Climate Summit: