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Earth Today | Homeward Bound - A chance to spotlight Caribbean realities

Published:Thursday | January 9, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Caribbean women and girls are encouraged to get more involved in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, and to make their voices heard on pressing regional realities.

HOMEWARD BOUND, the global leadership initiative targeting women with a background in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM), is a chance to amplify Caribbean female voices on priority issues for the region.

So says marine scientist Danielle Nembhard, who is one of two women selected from the region to participate in the initiative.

“The participation of women, particularly Caribbean women and women of colour, is incredibly important as it represents an opportunity for carving out more space on the global stage for us and those with our shared experiences to discuss and bring real and lasting solutions to the pressing issues that face us,” she told The Gleaner.

“It is now widely acknowledged that small island developing states like Jamaica, low-income communities, and minority or vulnerable groups experience disproportionate impacts from climate change relative to their contribution to carbon emissions. Arguably less acknowledged is the suggestion that women and minority groups have less influence over the decision-making for mitigating and adapting to climate change at local, national and international levels,” she added.

Homeward Bound – with its four development components including leadership, strategy, visibility and science, delivered by a transdisciplinary team over 12 months and culminating with a voyage to Antarctica – provides women the chance to tackle such issues.

“I strongly believe that addressing climate change through an intersectional lens – aspects of culture, gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc, that create unique modes of discrimination, is an opportunity to create collaboration and agency that cross and transcend social categories, Nembhard said.

“As Caribbean women, we have so much to contribute to this process, but we need to be visible. Homeward Bound explores how to gain and maintain visibility in an effective and formidable way,” she added.

Nembhard is keen to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I think it’s possible that seeing the Jamaican flag waving from a ship with Antarctica as the backdrop might inspire even one young girl to pursue STEMM, but definitely, and perhaps more importantly, the programme will equip me with the tools to lead in the development and enhancement of STEMM initiatives for the region that will foster the participation of many more girls and women in the field,” she said.

“Additionally, in the future I’m hoping to pursue a PhD that focuses on connecting marine science with policy and practice. I want to investigate the factors that help or hinder the application of science in decision-making and collaboration between scientists, government and the private sector, particularly for developing countries. Through Homeward Bound, I will be connected to a network of 400-women strong in STEMM, industry experts and key actors that will inevitably help me to lead this kind of research,” Nembhard added.