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Here we are, marching together

It had been over two years since we last saw each other, but last Saturday I was finally able to give my sister a big hug. She has been living in the UK for almost a decade so visits have been sporadic until they stopped completely due to the pandemic. I got her to some of our favourite Dutch treats when we met up in Amsterdam, which was the scene of a march celebrating International’s Women’s Day.

Cold hands were wrapped around linen banners, posters and signs emblazoned with colourful and inspirational slogans. I’m not usually one for crowds, let alone rallies and protests, yet seeing this group of women of all ages walking in unison made me smile. My sister and I watched them pass by; some were singing, others chanting or simply nodding to fellow women curiously gathered around the Museum Square. 

In the recycling industry, March 8 didn’t go by unnoticed. For instance, 100+ Accelerator hosted a webinar titled ‘The Women Building the Circular Economy’. An impressive amount of entrepreneurs in my network voiced their support of their female colleagues. Examples include Phoenix Metalman (pictured left) in New Zealand, Nupur Recyclers in Indiathe US-based Recycling Partnership, German recycling tech firm Resourcify, and UK player Recycling Lives.

I was glad to see scrap metal veteran Susie Burrage lead the #breakthebias campaign for the UK sector. The phrase challenges the outdated assumption that waste management is “no place for a women”. Why? Simple. We aren’t delicate. We aren’t scared of the noise of a shredder or dust and dirt accumulating around the recycling line.

We are curious, clever and eager to explore our options. Tell us something is off limits and we’ll work even harder to get it done. Women aren’t standing at the side-lines anymore. Literally. I’ve seen photos of twenty-somethings in full military uniform, ready to defend their country.

In the wake of further attacks from Russian forces, I was especially heartened to see women from Ukraine being praised for their contributions. Software developers, marketing executives, event managers, engineers, students interning at waste management companies – this goes to show the variety of people involved, often behind the scenes.

It was heart-breaking to read comments mourning the loss of those who were unable to get to safety, confirmed dead after a new series of bombs hit Kyiv and other cities and towns.

All of this makes me even more grateful I’m finally reunited with my sister again. Family really is everything. Let’s remember that and hold on tight to each other while we try to do our best to save the world’s resources – and, hopefully, the people in it.

Judging from the positive outpour on social media, we’re on the right track.

#breakthebias #strongertogether #futurevision

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