We settle down for a chat with Sarah Cowley, of SI Moreton North Inc Australia SISWP
Please tell us a little about your background and how you became a Soroptimist?
“I have 10 years’ experience across Global Communications, Project Management, and Human Resources. I have led teams in Australia, Asia, North, and Central America to create sustainable change in projects and businesses across the private sector, international non-government organisations, and start-ups. I was selected as a guest speaker at the United Nations in New York in 2017 and was awarded Young Woman of the Year in 2018, and I am also a Rotary Global Grant Scholar. I sit on the board of the Sherry-Hogan Foundation, an Australian foundation that supports and empowers local, community-based organisations and hold a BA Social Science from the University of Queensland, and an MA in International Law & Human Rights from the United Nations University for Peace.
Is there one key issue that drives you – something you feel truly passionate about and why?
I am passionate about social change. I firmly believe in the power of the individual and that one person can and does make a difference. I try to exemplify this through my own actions – being active in the community, being active about change in my workplace, reducing the amount of meat we eat at home, participating in women and youth events, shopping from ethical suppliers and shops. And tomorrow I’m starting my compost at home. If more people took tiny actions and believed what they did counted, we would see a huge change. Just look at the climate change rallies!
How important is Youth Activism –youth-led movements and organisations in transforming norms and creating a more sustainable and equal world?
So important. The most important even. Youth have amazing power and potential and are connected in a way previous generations just didn’t have. They have access to so much more information and knowledge, so can use that in the most powerful ways. Just look at what Greta Thunberg has done in such a short time.
Who do you most admire and why?
Women, because despite being oppressed for so long we’re still fighting for change.
How important is an education in changing behaviour and achieving human rights goals?
Extremely. Education is absolutely critical. If someone isn’t made aware of an issue, or something that’s wrong, how is anything ever going to change?
#NeverAgain, #Metoo, #ENDFGM #ClimateAction – Online activism is a huge part of youth activism – what advice can you give people taking their first steps in online activism?
Online activism is hugely powerful, especially when raising awareness and shining a light on painful or taboo topics. At the same time, online activism has to be matched with traditional activism- turning up to protests, donating to important causes, working for change, etc.
How important are intergenerational relationships? How can they learn from each other, and support one another?
The young generation needs to appreciate the women that have paved the way for us, trailblazers who were disruptors before the internet. Older women offer wisdom and insight, while the younger generation has the energy and different tools to turn activism into change.
What platforms do you use to share your messages and on and offline?
Social media (Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn), I write for Cause Artist (www.causeartist.com), am a mentor for UN Women (see my LinkedIn profile), encourage feminist conversations with friends, family & colleagues, attending events and networking. I have also been a guest speaker at the United Nations in New York, to share the global peace education programme I was working for then. And, of course, I’m a Soroptimist.
How vital is work at the grassroots level to transform communities – particularly in relation to the key issues you advocate for?
Very. The people in the communities need to have their own voice & opportunity for self-determination.
Any other words or thoughts?
It takes a lot to give yourself to a cause/causes that you’re passionate about. You’ll feel such a range of emotions, both positive and negative. Hope, fear, anger, stress, trust, unity, empowerment, frustration, gratitude & inspiration, to name a few. But it’s worth it because you can go to sleep each night knowing that you are trying and that you are doing your best to make the world a better place”.
My Day of the Girl Post: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3df2tng-3D/?igshid=apja49fpud2z
My LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahamcowley