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Empowering girls to save the world

Sustainability Analyst Rebecca Ward recently went back to Wakefield Girls’ High School to speak at its inaugural #empowHER event. Here, she writes about inspiring the students to think about climate change by hosting a "Mini COP".

Rebecca Ward speaking in front of a podium at EmpowerHer event (branding in the background)

It wasn’t until I began my working life that I truly recognised how lucky I was to have never suffered from imposter syndrome. The result of women and girls constantly having their confidence knocked over a period of time, imposter syndrome afflicts many of the inspiring, intelligent and highly qualified women I have worked with, leaving them feeling insecure and superfluous.


Empowering women is important because we need to hear the innovative ideas and demanding questions that women often keep to themselves. We are living through the era of the permacrisis, and solutions to crises like climate change need diversity of thought. They mandate the end of the status quo. In short, our future depends on the empowerment of women and other underrepresented groups.


This is why, when asked to re-visit my old school – Wakefield Girls’ High School – to speak at its inaugural #empowHER event, I didn’t have to think long before accepting. It was an honour to be invited to be a keynote speaker at the conference, aimed at girls aged 8-10 and with the purpose of empowering girls and helping them reach their full potential – no mean feat!

A group of six women, including RY's Rebecca Ward standing in front of a rainbow flag with Wakefield High School and EmpowerHer branding

Preparing and delivering my workshop was pretty daunting – serious respect to teachers. With the brief of creating a workshop that taught attendees the skills of collaboration and influence, I curated our very own “Mini COP” event – a school friendly take on the UN Conference of the Parties negotiations. The girls learnt about climate change (although they were already excellently clued up on the topic), before using briefs for 18 UN countries – from Canada to Bhutan – to agree on new, more ambitious climate pledges. Working as a team, the girls used analysis and evaluation to decide on the most impactful course of action with the budget available. I am very pleased to say, the resulting pledges saw temperature rise limited to 1.2 degrees – girls really should run the world.


Joking aside, it was an inspirational day. I was joined by five other alumni from my school – each of whom is excelling in her chosen field. Together, we inspired the conference delegates to follow suit and reach high. The 60 delegates – who arrived quiet and timid – wrapped up the day sharing a personal goal and the personality traits they will use to help achieve these. I was struck by the number of resilient, determined, and positive young women that left the conference. I hope this event – and others like it – will continue to instil a sense of bravery, persistence, positivity, and determination, to empower girls to truly save the world.

A group of young girls talking in front of a podium at EmpowerHer event