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Homeward bound; finding gender equality in Antarctica

Homeward Bound is probably the most curious forum you’ve ever heard of; women gather to attend a gender bias forum held on the most remote continent on earth, Antarctica.

Perhaps only curious in the inquisitive sense of the word, it’s nothing short of productive. The expedition rounded up 78 participants this year, including a nobel laureate alongside a children’s television presenter. The focus of the forum is to identify the hardships faced by women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) with the hope of increasing job security and rectifying other issues faced by women in industry.

The forum itself is a physical culmination of a 12-month leadership program, backed by prominent women like primatologist Jane Goodall and former UN Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres.

Participant Alice Ruhweza, a Ugandan environmental leader says, “Even through we’ve all heard a lot about gender issues, when you read the fact sheet the statistics are really glaring. It was an eye opener for me. We need to be bolder in exploring our options. If that means running for office, we run for office. We need to be the change we want to see and step out.”

We spoke to two participants about their experiences with Homeward Bound, and the hope it brings for future female leaders. To find out more about the program, click here

Above: The Homeward Bound participants creating the logo, credit: Oli Sansom


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Sandra Guzmán (pictured above) – Homeward Bound 2018 participant from Mexico

How do positive female role models in ground-breaking projects inspire tomorrow’s female leaders?

“A key aspect of ground breaking projects like Homeward Bound is that they allow us to make visible the work that many women are doing across many disciplines. Presenting these stories is a great opportunity to inspire future leaders who are looking for examples to follow or simply need to be inspired and motivated.

“‘Role models’ themselves have faced challenges to get where they are and this is important to recognise for those aspiring into leadership. There are not easy careers but there are incredible opportunities for making significant impacts in the world.”

What can young girls do to follow in your footsteps?

“My recommendation for young girls is ‘don’t stop dreaming’. Dreams are the best way to set goals and to guide us towards the steps in our life that will change our future. Studying what you love is the best place to start. The best job is the one where you are happy and that gives you satisfaction (monetary and developmental).

“I believe no one is born a leader – leaders are those who work hard to achieve goals and build communities and teams who work together towards those goals.

“And to always follow your heart.”

Cilla Wehi – Homeward Bound 2018 participant from New Zealand

How do positive female role models in ground-breaking projects inspire tomorrow’s female leaders?

“When I was growing up, I didn’t know any female scientists, and I never imagined myself as a scientist. I had an aunt, though, who pursued an independent career at a time when it was unusual to do that. She developed a business, in which she was a partner, but also spent time serving as a human rights commissioner and giving her time to women’s organisations and community groups.

“I loved the way she held true to her values of community and caring for others, while also being very businesslike and successful, with integrity at the core of who she was. She and my mother were wonderful role models who taught me to follow my interests with passion, but also to give to others. That approach inspires me, and I hope the leaders of tomorrow.”

What can young girls do to follow in your footsteps?

“To follow in their footsteps, I encourage today’s young women to explore the world around them to be curious and to be giving. It is important to stand up for others, to look after and uplift others, and to challenge existing paradigms if we are to change the world.”


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