Ameenah Gurib-Fakim: Women in Power

November 29 - On The Dot
 
FIRST THOUGHT: Calling All Superheroines

When I was younger, I wanted to be a superhero and able to read people’s minds and fly. But that all seems like a lot of freakin’ work. I can imagine taking my first sip of morning coffee as my sidekick busts in and yells, “Help! Someone needs saving!” When you’re a superhero, there’s no adding that out-of-office message to your email. You’re always on call. And truthfully, being able to fly just doesn’t seem worth all that trouble.

Today, relax a little and accept that you’re not a woman who can do it all, and embrace the fact that you don’t have to have superhuman powers to be a superheroine to those who love you.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 10

We can’t all take a backseat and let men rule the world. Some of us ladies do indeed have to step up and be superheroines. According to UN Women, there are only 10 women currently serving as heads of state throughout the world. I’m certainly no world-news or politics expert, but 10 doesn’t seem like a lot. And guess what. It isn’t.

A gender-equality research project created by International IDEA, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Stockholm University has an online database providing stats on women in government. A quick visit to the site showed some disparity throughout the world when it comes to women leaders. For instance, 40 percent of government seats in Iceland are filled by women, whereas Sri Lanka only has women in 5 percent of its government seats.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius

Come with me on a journey to an exotic locale: Mauritius. It’s a beautiful island nation off the coast of Africa, and I assure you, if you do a quick image search of Mauritius, you’ll want a picture of this paradise as your desktop wallpaper in a heartbeat.

So why are we traveling to this gorgeous destination? Because today’s Woman to Watch is one of those few females throughout the world who is in charge of an entire nation. Her name is Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and she is the first woman president of Mauritius.

But despite her intelligence and diligent work as president of the island country, Ameenah had virtually zero political experience prior to accepting the position. In fact, the founder of the Centre for Phytotherapy Research and an accomplished author, Ameenah had been working as a biodiversity scientist and was well respected in her field when Mauritius’ majority party asked her to become president of the country, which boasts more than a million citizens.

It appears to be the role Ameenah was made for, and one in which she is able to effect change from a unique scientific perspective. Since assuming the presidential role in mid-2015, she’s partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create 10 Ph.D. research grants on Mauritius, with the hope of expanding the program to as many as 10,000 scientists across the African continent. Her focus remains on the environment, and she promotes investments in science and technology, and works to bring awareness to environmental issues. She is one of Africa’s most vocal advocates for environmental and scientific funding, noting that while many countries invest as much as 4 percent of their GDP into scientific research, Africa only puts about 1 percent toward it, a statistic Ameenah is actively working to change.

After watching Ameenah’s TED Talk from 2014, I’ve got to say she may be as smart as all of us combined. Her research has led to significant advances, and Foreign Policy magazine even named her one of its 2015 Leading Global Thinkers. With Ameenah at the helm of scientific discovery, Mauritius might just become the next hub for innovation.

QUITE THE QUOTE

Today’s quote about women in power is from the first female president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, who said:

“For me, a better democracy is a democracy where women do not only have the right to vote and to elect, but to be elected.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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