Change is always an opportunity
Riina Harjula, high-school student and Danfoss editron’s vp for the day
To me, the fact that girls are the most discriminated group in the world is hard to comprehend. In fact, it is almost impossible to imagine what it would feel like if I was seen as a disappointment by my parents, or to be a child bride. However, unfortunately, for many girls in developing countries, these are still realities. Sadly, girls, especially those who are being discriminated against, also have another major challenge to face these days – the climate emergency.
It’s well known that the global average temperature has already risen by almost one degree Celsius. There is also more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than ever before, which is further accelerating the climate emergency. While negative impacts can be seen across the world, including here in Finland, in developing countries the problem is fiercer and a severe threat to people’s living conditions.
This shows that climate change is not spreading its wings evenly. On the contrary, it hits the poorest and most vulnerable people harder. You could even say that climate change is inequality and discrimination at its worst. Poor girls in developing countries are the least responsible for the problems we’re facing but suffering the most.
However, there is hope in the face of the climate emergency – girls. The impact Greta Thunberg has had in sparking a major movement for change and bringing the failings of others into the public eye is enormous. But we need to go further. We need to educate and train more girls than ever before in all areas of the world.
One way of doing this is by capitalizing on traditions and social norms, which can be found everywhere. While we’re approaching the end of 2019, girls and women are still seen as responsible for running households and cooking for their families, etc. In fact, only recently I read that in Finland school subjects are still very much divided by gender. For instance, only 19% of new students in technology studies are female, the lowest figure in the Nordics.
In developing countries, social norms mean that heavy work such as farming and fetching water is mainly the responsibility of girls. In worst-case scenarios, this could mean that girls have to walk over six hours every day to fetch water for their families. And because of droughts, carrying water is getting more difficult, taking more time and becoming more dangerous. It’s also taking away opportunities for education. This isn’t acceptable. Wherever they live in the world, all girls should have the right to live in a safe environment and the right to go to school.
I hope that Finland can be a leading country supporting international development. We have both the know-how and the ability to support training and entrepreneurship for girls in developing countries financially. I genuinely believe that the world can be changed for the better.
But how can I influence and make a difference personally? I feel that the best way I can do this is by being a good example to others. I am going to use my strengths and make sure I make use of the opportunity I’ve received to study. That way, I can hopefully help others in the future.
I am looking forward to my day as a corporate leader. I would say to everyone at Danfoss Editron that it’s essential to treat girls and women equally and without prejudice. Ask yourself, do you let bias take over if someone looks or acts differently to you, or do you always keep an open mind? Change starts with me and you. Change is always an opportunity.
If you want to show your support, read more https://plan.fi/node/21493