Local zoologist Mbizah on Antarctica expedition Dr Mbizah

Enacy Mapakame

Wildlife Conservation Action founder and director Dr Moreangels Muchaneta Mbizah will be part of an expedition comprising 188 women from across the world who will set sail to Antarctica next month on a collaborative mission to promote the long-term sustainability of the planet.

The 19-day voyage,  which will also include regional representatives from South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, provides participants, with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM), with a first-hand experience of one of the earth’s most precious ecosystems, as they leverage their expertise to improve research and legislation.

Dr Mbizah obtained her PhD in Zoology from the University of Oxford and strongly focuses on the intersections between conservation and community development.

Her organisation, Wildlife Conserve Action, helps build the capacity of local communities to protect and coexist with wildlife while improving their livelihoods.

Her participation in the leadership programme for women in STEMM has provided an opportunity to go on a three-week expedition to Antarctica to raise awareness for climate change and increase the visibility of women in STEMM, especially in the region and partake in the programme.

“The adventure these women are about to embark on will give them an unparalleled view of one of the most remote locations on the planet. Antarctica not only provides early warnings of climate change – it also represents the fragility of our natural world, and why we need to protect it.

“We are excited to see how each person takes on this life-changing journey and translates their learnings into actions,” said Pamela Sutton-Legaud, chief executive officer (CEO) of Homeward Bound, the global leadership initiative leading the voyage.

Departing on two voyages from Argentina, the cohort comprises women from 25 countries. The local cohort are already using their positions to pioneer change for a more sustainable future, and to increase gender equality in the STEMM sector.

Other representatives from the region are South Africa’s Gina Ziervogel who is the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) director, and an Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town.

Representing Kenya will be Philista Malaki, a research scientist at the National Museums of Kenya, whose main interests are biodiversity conservation management and avian research.

The initiative comes as women representation in STEMM is still low.

 “More than 50 percent of women in technology roles leave the industry before they turn 35. We exist to enable more women within this sector, by helping them harness the tools they need to excel in their industries – particularly in the fight for the sustainability of our planet.

“History and research also show that women and young girls in developing countries are the most negatively affected by climate change-related instances. The world needs to create a space for their ideas to be heard, as the drastic effects of climate change become more apparent globally,” added Sutton-Legaud.

Homeward Bound’s overall mission is to empower 10 000 women with a background in STEMM to lead, influence, collaborate and contribute to policy and decision-making towards a more sustainable future by 2036.

Leading up to the departure, the women are immersed in a 12-month virtual leadership programme, to develop their leadership and strategic capabilities.

On the voyage itself, they will be involved in continuous learning, during lectures, workshops, and networking sessions, all designed to help them harness their individual leadership skill sets in the fight for change and global sustainability.

“As this group embarks on this epic journey, they remind us that women in STEMM are not just the key to understanding our planet’s challenges; they are the architects of its solutions. Together, they inspire a global effort towards a more equal leadership landscape, and a more sustainable future for our world,” says Sutton-Legaud.

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