International Women’s Day is not just an important time for reflection but also a day to think about what we want our future to look like – with a keen focus on action.

At Risilience, almost from day one, we have run a series of Affinity Groups – volunteer organisations in the business that consider three separate, but often overlapping, agendas: Life at Risilience, focussing on company culture; Celebrating Diversity, focussing on diversity and inclusion; and Risilience in the Community, focussing on the company’s community and charitable-giving programmes. 

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Embrace Equity; a value that underpins each of these groups and their respective actions over the past year, but, more importantly, is one that must be instilled in our businesses and beyond. 

The difference between equity and equality is worth noting, defined on the International Women’s Day site thus: ‘Equality is the goal, and equity is the means to get there. Through the process of equity, we can reach equality.’ 

The site also focusses on the actions that equity demands from all of us ‘for the social, economic, cultural and political advancement of women.’ And whether as women or the all-important allies of women: ‘We can all challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion.’ 

Ultimately, equity is defined by our actions – as individuals and organisations. 

With that in mind, we wanted to share a selection of women in the climate and sustainability, and science and technology worlds who have embraced equity and inspired others, including our team at Risilience, to fight the good fight for the advancement of women everywhere. 

Dame Angela McLean, Government Chief Scientific Adviser 

Appointed in February this year, Dame Angela McLean is the UK’s chief scientific adviser and the first woman to hold the post, taking over from Sir Patrick Vallance following an open competition to succeed him.  

Her qualifications are many – she is a Professor of Mathematical Biology in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, a Fellow of All Souls College and Director of The Institute for Emerging Infections of Humans. She also specialises in the use of mathematical models to aid our understanding of the evolution and spread of infectious agents. 

More information here.  

Dr Penny Whetton, Honourary Research Fellow, School of Life Sciences, University of Melbourne 

The late Dr Penny Whetton was a respected climate scientist who championed the next generation of researchers whilst finding time to nurture her passions as an artist, photographer and champion of the transgender community. 

Dr Whetton was a lead author of the regionalisation and climate scenarios chapters of the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the regional projections chapter of the Fourth Assessment Report of IPCC, and the Australasia chapter of the Fifth Assessment Report. 

The environmentalist transitioned in 2003 and said of her decision: “I often say that I had to go through gender transition so I can get on with the rest of my life. Otherwise, it would be this big thing sitting there and getting in the way of things all the time. It absolutely worked.” 

Learn more about Dr Penny Whetton. 

Catherine Coleman Flowers, environmental health advocate 

A long-term campaigner for environmental justice, by bringing attention to the problem of inadequate waste and water sanitation infrastructure in rural communities in the United States, Catherine Coleman Flowers is the founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, in Alabama, U.S.  

“Growing up in rural America where communities are often under-resourced and over-polluted, I have always had a strong lens toward inclusive and equitable environmental justice initiatives,” she said. “We must eliminate the health, economic and environmental disparities suffocating rural and marginalized communities. CREEJ is dedicated to reversing these disparities and seeing a world where everyone has access to clean water, air and sanitation.” 

More at and Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret by Catherine Coleman Flowers 

Lamya Essemlali, President, Sea Shepherd France 

Only one per cent of women identify as ‘sea farers’, according to the BIMCO/ICS Seafarer Workforce Report completed in 2021. Staggeringly, this represents a positive trend in gender balance, marking a near 49 per cent increase compared with the 2015 survey. 

Lamya Essemlali is one such woman sea farer. Appointed President of the French branch of Sea Shepherd in 2008, an organisation dedicated to the protection and conservation of the world’s oceans and marine wildlife, Essemlali has organised and managed 30 field missions for the French and international organisations. 

Essemlali is also a lecturer and author of Captain Paul Watson: Interview with a Pirate. 

More information.  

Destiny Boka-Batesa, co-founder of Choked Up 

Choked Up was co-founded by then-teenager Destiny Boka-Batesa with young friends living in South London to campaign for the rights of black and brown lives being enshrined in clean air laws in the UK.  

Highlighting the damage caused by the poor air quality experienced where the teenagers commuted daily to school, they designed and put up a number of ‘Pollution Zone –Breathing Kills’ signs on London streets that caught the attention of the national media and decision-makers alike.  

In October 2021 the Ultra Low Emission Zone was expanded to the North and South Circular areas of London and will include all London boroughs in August this year. 

More information here