We’re celebrating International Women’s Day this year with a special Ethos eight – of eight amazing women we’ve spoken to over the course of the last couple of years. It’s by no means extensive – but hey, that’s what the magazine’s for 😉
As the focal point for the women’s movement, 2019’s theme is #BalanceforBetter – how can you help forge a more gender-balanced world? Celebrate women’s achievement? Raise awareness against bias and take action for equality?
These women are doing interesting, creative and empowering stuff – sometimes at a micro, hyper-local level, sometimes in an all-conquering, international way. And they’re all worth finding out a bit more about.
Lucy and I heard Keay speak about robots and AI, and tax avoidance, when we were in Lisbon for Web Summit at the end of 2017. She was amazing – articulate and empathetic, brimming with radical thinking and robotics expertise, so we got back in touch for Ethos 05. Andrew spoke to the self-confessed ‘robots and rockets girl’ for a particularly cool edition of Ethos meets, ranging from AI ethics and gender bias to Star Wars’ Rey and STEM. Have a look at Silicon Valley Robotics – of which Keay is MD – to find out more…
Anne Beate Hovind
Anne Beate Hovind is art director at developer Bjørvika Utvikling, responsible for the Bjørvika development in Oslo – Norway’s biggest ever transformation. Hovind’s role is to animate the 650,000 square metres of former port, road and rail reimagined with art, creating vibrant public spaces for the 5,000 apartments, offices, shops, restaurants and cultural spaces.
Hovind commissioned the artist Katie Paterson to create Future Library – a new forest springing up in Oslo. In 2114, 100 years from the start of the project, the 1,000 newly-planted pine trees in Nordmarka forest will become an anthology of books, printed on paper made from the trees. Every year, a new author is commissioned to write something for the library, which will be held in trust in Bjørvika’s new library, only to be read a century from now. Margaret Atwood was the first to contribute a new piece of work: David Mitchell; Icelandic author Sjón, London-based Turkish writer, Elif Shafak and, most recently, South Korean author Han Kang have also been announced. She also works with the artist collective FutureFarmers on the Losæter project, a food-led community hub that has become the face of Oslo’s year as European Green Capital 2019.
Read more about Losæter and the Future Library in issue 09 of Ethos.
Claire Wasserman founded the female platform Ladies Get Paid, to encourage and empower women in work through community, education and activism. Covering everything from salary negotiations, to communication, speaking up for yourself and becoming a manager. In early 2018, Ladies Get Paid was sued by a group of male right activists, claiming that the community was practicing bias and discrimination – which could have crippled the start-up. Rather than shrinking away, LGP launched a crowdfunding campaign, Ladies Get Sued, raising over $115,000 to keep the platform afloat for years to come.
Jo Jones was our local hero before Christmas, talking about the Beauty Banks campaign she’s set up with good friend and co-founder, Sali Hughes. ‘Feeling clean is a right, not a privilege,’ she says, launching Beauty Banks as a community-powered movement, supplying personal hygiene products to people living in poverty in the UK. The campaign provides items such as shampoo, soap, shower gel or toothpaste to people who wouldn’t be able to afford them otherwise, including sanitary products for students, to stop them skipping school and missing out on their education. Jones and Hughes were awarded Nesta’s New Radicals award in 2018.
As CEO of Techfugees, “we’ve been voicing solutions – we’ve been voicing a way of bringing society together,” said Josephine Goube. The global Techfugees network is a worldwide group of technology industry experts hosting conferences, hackathons and events to find solutions to the refugee crisis. A non-profit organisation, Techfugees works with global partners including Facebook, Microsoft and UN Women, to generate tech solutions for and with refugees. “We’re one of the voices which is apolitical,” said Goube. “In between welcoming every refugee and every migrant, we address the people that are already here and deal with the issue pragmatically. We’re looking at the long term – Techfugees is creating another narrative to the crisis, which is very much needed.”
Kresse Wesling popped up in Ethos in summer 2017, and we were lucky enough to hear her speak last year at Liverpool’s International Business Festival. The circular economy is growing year-on-year, finding new and innovative ways of recycling our everyday waste. Wesling’s business recycles London Fire Service hoses, into bags, rugs and belts – amongst others – and has saved over 200 tons from landfill so far. It’s also donated 50% of its profits back to the London Fire Service.
Hedayat founded Chatterbox, an online language school, that hires and trains refugees to become teachers in their native languages. Hedayat and her mother sought refuge in the UK in 1994 when Hedayat was three, having escaped conflict in Afghanistan. “We need that system of community protection which says: ‘if things are going really bad in your back yard – you can come and stay at my place.’ Because we’re all equal and the same under the eyes of humanitarian law,” says Hedayat. Having witnessed first-hand the extent of unemployment and degradation in the refugee community and prompted by the emerging migrant crisis in 2015, Hedayat created Chatterbox as a solution to the growing problem.
In the UK alone, shoppers threw away food worth over £13 billion in 2015. We spoke to Selina Juul in the summer of 2017, catching up with her Stop Wasting Food movement, which has been making inroads into reducing food waste in Denmark since 2008. Not content with persuading the country’s biggest discount chain, REMA 1000, to stop its bulk discount offers and three-for-twos, Juul has worked with the Danish Agriculture and Food Council to promotes the sorting, collecting and recycling of food waste and her organisation is credited with bringing about a 25% reduction in food waste in Denmark over the five years from 2010 to 2015.
As part of our commitment to International Women’s Day, we’ll be adding the biographies of female entrepreneurs and innovators to Wikipedia, starting with the women you’ve read about today. Because, as IWD2019 says, a balanced world is a better world.
What are you planning?