“I would encourage people to look at the wonderful work of women in social and environmental enterprises have created and learn from their journey.”
Empowering women and achieving gender equality are not only moral imperatives, they are crucial to creating inclusive, open, and prosperous societies. Yet the barriers to doing so are daunting.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal(SDG) 5 is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” So far, social enterprise has played a small but significant role in women’s empowerment on a global scale, but there is still a lot of work to be done and it’s imperative that governments, funders, social enterprises, and women’s organizations work together to achieve this by the target date of 2030.
In this conversation with Servane Mouazan, I came to understand that supporting females in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) was very much linked to fighting against stereotypes, false expectations, and erroneous beliefs about women. For the past 20 years working in the field, the CEO of Ogunte has been contributing to prove that women can solve pressing social and environmental issues and create commercial opportunities at the same time, when given the skills and space to do so.
Can you talk to me about where your passion for conscious innovation comes from?
I think my involvement in conscious innovation, and women’s leadership, is just an attempt of understanding the world and understanding how I can define my own identity as a woman. Conscious innovation is a process by which you collectively develop tools or improve existing situations that enable groups of people and their environment to flourish together, without harming each other. It’s not a textbook, it’s a perpetual questioning and learning process. I think that from an early age, I was never interested in being defined by one thing or another, I was just interested in everything that moved. My driver was about connecting people. I developed multiple interests, and learned to strike conversations with people from all walks of life. I was also looking for ways to be useful, and looking at it now, connecting people was most probably about finding ways to make them ‘reconcile’. My parents separated when I was 7, I had a brother who was 2, and my mum, a primary school teacher, remained single. We never lacked anything but there were times I could feel the economic situation was strenuous. She had principles, robust values, was very artistic and socially minded. A curious character, with strong values and solution focused, she was always interested in making things better for people. I think seeing her evolve as a strong individual has been fundamental in my development and appreciation of women’s contribution. My father worked for the French Child Protection services and was also a politically engaged singer-songwriter. That makes for a complex mix where education, society, arts, strong personalities, leadership, and passionate topics were at the center of many conversations.