Hi, it is Emilie here, your female CEO and cofounder of Star Seed. As Sauda has finished her summer internship with us, I will present you with the last article she wrote, on women empowerment. She wrote many brilliant articles for Star Seed, and I would like to take a moment to praise all her hard work and dedication to bringing good, positive information out to you, our readers. Without further ado, here is Sauda's perspective on women in business:
"In the ever-evolving landscape of business and leadership, a dynamic force of trailblazing women are shaking up the status quo and redefining the meaning of power. These visionaries, driven by an unyielding spirit and an unwavering determination, have emerged as the vanguard of a new era in the world. They are the disruptors, the challengers, and the unapologetic pioneers, forging paths that few have dared to tread before.
This week, we explore the tenacity of female leaders who have refused to accept the limitations imposed upon them, defying stereotypes, and dismantling barriers that have long hindered progress. They have harnessed the power of their unique perspectives and experiences to transform industries, proving that true strength lies in embracing authenticity.
One of my personal inspirations for women empowerment is Malala Yousef. Her fearless advocacy for girls' education, even in the face of life-threatening adversity, demonstrates the power of individual voices in igniting global change. Malala's resilience and refusal to be silenced remind me that the pursuit of knowledge and empowerment knows no bounds. Malala's story serves as a testament to the strength that lies within women, encouraging me to strive for my aspirations with unwavering determination and to use my voice to stand up for what I believe in.
Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 68% while the number of women in senior management positions in 2021 increased to 31%. When women are in positions of power, a wave of positive change ripples through society and organisations. Studies have consistently shown that gender diversity in leadership fosters a more inclusive and empathetic work culture, leading to increased collaboration, innovation, and better decision-making.
Women in power often prioritise social issues, such as healthcare, education, and gender equality, resulting in policies and initiatives that promote a fairer and more equitable society. Additionally, female leaders serve as powerful role models, inspiring and empowering the next generation of women to pursue their ambitions with confidence. By breaking down gender barriers, women in power pave the way for a more diverse and prosperous future, enriching not only the lives of women but also the entire community they serve.
Malala Yousafzai, the 26 year old activist from Pakistan, who is a spokeswoman of the importance of women's education.
What Women Empowerment Means to me (Sauda)
Women empowerment stands as a resolute force that strives to give women the freedom to take control of their lives, make independent choices, and access equal opportunities and resources. It is about breaking down the barriers of gender-based discrimination and fostering a supportive environment where women can flourish, pursuing their dreams in all spheres of society - be it economic, social, political, or cultural.
Through women empowerment, we address long-standing systemic obstacles, challenge gender stereotypes, and work towards creating a more inclusive world. It seeks to uplift women's voices, allowing them to be heard, respected, and valued. An empowered woman exudes confidence, relying on her strengths to make informed decisions that contribute positively to her community and the world at large.
It's important to emphasise that women empowerment isn't about favouring one gender over another, but rather recognising the potential and worth of every individual. It's a fundamental human right, a driving force behind sustainable development and social progress. By empowering women, we move towards a balanced, fairer, and more harmonious world - one where every person has the opportunity to thrive and reach their fullest potential.
As a woman studying at Oxford, I first hand witnessed some challenges as well as the advancements made for gender equality. The University of Oxford, like many historically male-dominated institutions, has a complex history when it comes to the treatment of women and their representation. Over the years, there have been significant advancements in women's participation and rights at the university, but challenges and disparities have also been documented.
For example, from 2018 to 2022, Oxford admitted more female undergraduates than male, currently making up 53.1% of the cohort. Despite this, women are definitely under-represented in certain areas, such as subjects like engineering, physics and in leadership positions such as tutors. My college (University College) is the only college out of 39 colleges to have a woman of colour as a headmaster or provost of the college. Efforts have been made to increase women's representation in academic and administrative roles. Initiatives promoting gender diversity and equal opportunities have been launched, and women have taken on more prominent leadership positions at the university.
I personally, as a student at Oxford, have never directly faced discrimination and would say there is a lot of support for female students. However, more work should be done in giving opportunities for women in academic and administrative roles, especially for women in colour.
Star Seed’s Role in Empowering Women
Star Seed works with a lot of women, ranging from our producers, manufacturers and partner brands. Star Seed’s CEO, Emilie Jaspers grew up in Copenhagen and after working in a male-dominated corporate industry in London, started her own skincare brand along with her partner, Ed Pycraft.
Most of their ingredients are sourced from Africa, through a cooperative that sources all organic and natural ingredients. This producer is also a woman, facing her own challenges being a female founder in Kenya.
The majority of botanical ingredients are harvested through smallholder farmers in Kenya and East Africa. Many of these smallholders are female farmers and tribal women. All of the ingredients we source are sustainable, regenerative and ethical. Moreover, many of these ingredients play a strong role in social impact, especially on the livelihoods of women. Shea Butter, one of the key ingredients used in Star Seed products, is harvested from smallholders in Uganda. Shea butter is known as ‘Women’s Gold’ not only for its many skin and health benefits but also because it provides employment and income to millions of women in Africa. Women often develop a community business to farm and harvest Shea Butter and income is distributed fairly to members of the community. Baobab, used in our Forest (Day) Cream, is solely owned by households and communities - there are no baobab plantations and over 10 million households can provide baobab from their crop. Argan Oil is one of the star ingredients in our Moon (Night) Cream and most Argan Oil produced in the world is made by women’s cooperatives and unions. This helps provide women with an income which can be used to fund theirs, and their children’s education. This also provides a means of autonomy and self-sustenance in a society and country typically dominated by males.
A lot of Star Seed partner brands are founded and run by women, for example Lucy Johnson who runs Green Salon - the UK’s first sustainable lifestyle consultancy. Also Jayne Beaumont and Susi Hartmann who co-founded Beaumont Awareness - corporate retreats emphasising wellness whilst also encouraging sustainable and healthy living. And finally our incredible partner & facialist, Tallulah O'Hea, a Woman’s Body Confidence coach, spreading self-love and confidence.
The Role of Masculine Energy
In a world that champions diversity and inclusivity, it's crucial to recognise that positive masculine energy has a significant place and purpose. While discussions around masculinity often centre on its potential pitfalls, it's equally important to acknowledge the powerful and constructive aspects that masculine energy brings to the table. When harnessed in positive ways, masculinity contributes to the enrichment of individual lives and the betterment of society as a whole.
Masculine energy embodies a range of characteristics that, when balanced and channelled thoughtfully, can lead to positive outcomes. These attributes, which include strength, leadership, protection, and problem-solving, are not inherently negative. Rather, they form the foundation for the building blocks of personal growth, meaningful relationships, and societal progress.
At its core, positive masculine energy fosters resilience and strength in the face of challenges. This strength goes beyond physical prowess to encompass emotional fortitude—a trait that's essential in navigating the complexities of modern life. When individuals tap into this wellspring of inner strength, they are better equipped to overcome obstacles and inspire those around them to persevere.
Leadership, a hallmark of positive masculinity, is not about dominance or control, but rather about guiding others with integrity, empathy, and vision. A leader who embodies positive masculine energy, understands the importance of collaboration, actively listens to diverse perspectives, and encourages everyone to contribute their unique insights. This style of leadership empowers individuals to reach their full potential and fosters an environment where everyone's strengths are recognised and celebrated.
Embracing the Sun Energy: Radiance, Drive, and Environmental Guardianship
The sun, a celestial embodiment of energy, radiates qualities that hold great significance beyond its cosmic role. Metaphorically, the sun energy symbolises attributes such as drive, confidence, and the audacity to shine without seeking permission. Moreover, its protective warmth extends beyond our immediate surroundings to encompass safeguarding our precious environment. Let's delve into the profound implications of harnessing the sun energy in our lives and its potential to inspire positive change.
Much like the sun's unwavering presence in the sky, the sun's energy encourages us to cultivate inner drive and radiance. It compels us to embrace our ambitions, illuminate our paths, and strive for greatness. This intrinsic motivation is the spark that propels us forward, encouraging us to pursue our aspirations and light the way for others.
The sun energy embodies the confidence to shine brightly without seeking external validation. Just as the sun illuminates the world with its unapologetic brilliance, this energy encourages us to express our authentic selves without hesitation. It teaches us to stand tall, embrace our uniqueness, and let our true essence shine through.
Harmonising Feminine and Masculine Energy: Paving the Path to Equity and Justice
In creating a fair and equal society, we can harness the power of balancing feminine and masculine energies. These energies, each with their own strengths, can collaborate to pave the way for a more just world.
Feminine energy, characterised by qualities like empathy and teamwork, aligns well with the action-driven and problem-solving nature of masculine energy. Together, they can dismantle the structures that perpetuate inequality.
Valuing the input of all and working together to solve problems becomes crucial. This approach emphasises that strength and action are essential, but so are authenticity and emotional expression.
Leadership, in this context, transcends gender roles. It's about having qualities that anyone can possess, such as compassion and effective decision-making. This kind of leadership fosters an environment where everyone's contributions are valued.
By merging these energies, we cultivate a society that doesn't just fix issues as they arise but prevents them from happening in the first place. This equilibrium helps address the needs of marginalised individuals and challenges the systems that breed unfairness.
In this balanced perspective, the energies of both femininity and masculinity work seamlessly. It's a perspective where collaboration is key, leading to positive change. This balance transforms our society into a place where fairness is a fundamental principle, and equality is a reality.
East African Shea Butter (Vitellaria Nilotica) is an excellent moisturiser that absorbs quickly into the skin and is non- comedogenic (doesn’t clog pores)
Star Seed’s Endeavours in Creating a Balanced Society
Star Seed’s goal to make the beauty industry regenerative doesn’t just end with the use of sustainable farming/wild foraging of organic botanicals. They ensure all of the value chain is ethical. From the smallholder farmers & local tribal communities in East Africa to their new English, female-led manufacturers. Together with Star Seed, I believe that creating a balanced society is the only way to tackle climate change peacefully and create sustainable change.