On Thursday 3 March 2022, we joined over 300 people at the 11th annual Celebrating Women in Conservation Breakfast, jointly hosted by Trust for Nature and Bush Heritage Australia in honour of International Women’s Day. The event seeks to celebrate the important role that women play in conservation. It is a must attend event for many in the environment, climate and conservation space across Australia.
Image description: Speakers Linh Do and Victoria McKenzie-McHarg and host Tanya Ha respond to questions in the Q&A of the Women in Conservation Breakfast 2022, held on Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung (Wurundjeri) land at Zinc, Federation Square.
This year’s keynote speaker was our very own Strategic Director, Victoria McKenzie-McHard. Victoria was joined by the Director of Leaders for Global Sustainability at the University of Melbourne, Linh Do.
Watch their speeches now (Victoria is on at 1.02.40. Linh is on at 1.25.30)
This is not just a biodiversity and climate crisis. This is a leadership crisis, that we are facing both here in Australia and globally. We need change and it needs to be a change of leadership’
Victoria spoke about the dire state of climate and environment leadership in Australia and the need for real transformation in this space in order for us to build a more sustainable future. She presented a powerful vision of what leadership for our environment and climate could and should look like in Australia. Furthermore, Victoria highlighted the importance of actively investing in and supporting the leadership development of women and gender diverse people, imploring the audience to reflect upon how they could collaborate in changing the face of climate and environmental leadership in Australia and helping women of all diversities step into leadership. The audience was captivated throughout and inspired by her message. Some in the room, many veterans of the Australian environment movement, were so deeply impacted they were moved to tears..
This is starting to become real, not in 2030 this is likely to happen, it’s actually in 2022 these things are already happening. At this moment in time, in this story we are writing ourselves, 50% of the planet could be said to be on the front lines of climate change.
Linh spoke candidly about the emotional and mental toll climate activism can have over an extended period of time, the burdens women often carry to be caretakers and nurtures of others in that space and the importance of women prioritising self care and self sustainability as an essential in their work. She discussed the realities of feeling overwhelmed and defeated by the magnanimous issues and the isolation that can be experienced by many at grass roots. Her message was clear, that looking after ourselves was the radical step needed in order to show up as we wanted and continue to effectively care for people and the planet.
There is work that women do in our society that doesn’t get recognised. This is work that women have historically, traditionally and still continue to do that I think is really important. It’s all the invisible labour in making sure that people are OK.
The event ended with a resounding message of hope, the importance of community and connection. Many of the attendees left feeling energised and motivated to continue their work as women leaders in the Australian climate and environment space, if not challenged to become active participants in the revolution of leadership for climate and environment activism.
This revolution of leadership is ours for the making, it will not happen, it is not possible without us working together to make that happen; for each other and for the many women and gender diverse people who are not in this room, but are feeling the fire in their bellies and the passion for change, as strongly as you are.