From the Editor: Women rising as leaders

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)

When I was three, my mother created Myrut, a tailoring and design company on the second floor of my grandparents’ home. The company made chef attires for restaurants and hotels, wedding dresses, and performance costumes. My mother didn’t know how to sew, but hired sewists as she took care of marketing and management.

Myrut lasted four years, but during that time, I watched as she closed business deals, assisted her with taking notes, and joined her as she drove around Panama City in search of high-quality fabrics.

Independence, creativity, and business leadership are a few of the things that I still admire about her to this day.

On March 8, during International Women’s Day, I want to applaud women entrepreneurs and start-up owners who dare to begin something new in a world that still makes it difficult for women to dream big.

In Canada, it is estimated that 29.5 per cent of the 34,370 self-employed Black entrepreneurs are women, according to a 2021 report by Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. 

Indigenous women entrepreneurs are growing at twice the rate than their non-Indigenous counterparts. According to the report, during 2010 and 2019 Indigenous women entrepreneurs with employees have risen from 23 per cent to 42 per cent, a significant increase considering the majority of women-owned businesses tend to be smaller, often with few employees.

Even when companies were shutting down during the beginning of the pandemic, women were still trying to create new businesses.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is a network that carries out survey-based research on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship ecosystems worldwide. In 2020, GEM ran an adult population survey to examine the impacts of the pandemic on women.

Out of the surveyed Canadian women, 65.9 per cent reported the pandemic to have influenced their business start-up intentions. Canadian women entrepreneurs also reported higher rates of innovation compared to men in the country.

Aside from entrepreneurs, there are also women who wish to stay in already established companies with the hope of escalating in seniority and gaining leadership positions. However, some women struggle to obtain such positions.  

The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub found that women were underrepresented in national and provincial agriculture associations, with only 12 per cent having a woman as their chair or president.

It also found that while women comprise approximately 30 per cent of farm workers, they represent only 25 per cent of managers and 29 per cent of business owners. Women-owned farms are rare and tend to be smaller than those owned by men.

This is one of the reasons that on Dec. 3, UN Women announced that this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” to recognize the contribution of women and girls leading climate change adaptation strategies and response for a sustainable future.

Women are unfortunately more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men because they represent a majority of those who live in poverty, especially in developing countries, which at times depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. Due to climate change, those resources are slowly depleting or becoming inaccessible.

In Canada, we have women who are actively involved in the process of creating a sustainable future. Autumn Peltier is an Anishinaabe Indigenous rights advocate from the Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. She is the chief water commissioner for the Aniishnabek Nation and is a global water activist.

Laboucan-Massimo is a Lubicon Cree woman and advocate for climate justice and Indigenous rights. She is the founder of Sacred Earth Solar, an organization that gives solar power to impacted Indigenous communities.  

Tammara Soma is a resource and environmental management professor at Simon Fraser University and co-founded the Food Systems Lab. The lab aims to create an equitable future for food security by proposing ways to create a greener and less wasteful food system.

There is a growing number of both women entrepreneurs and women creating organizations to combat climate change.

Now, it’s up to the world to keep helping women rise by encouraging them and placing them in leadership positions. We can no longer afford the continued effects of the climate crisis or live in a world where only one gender is on top.