As Women’s History Month kicks off, meet some of the RMI women who are working for a clean, sustainable future.
RMI is made up of more than 600 passionate, committed, climate change experts — 57 percent of whom identify as female. March is Women’s History Month, when we celebrate women’s contributions to society. Meet some of the women of RMI who are working to change our world for the better and to create a clean, sustainable future.
“Women (and children) are on the front lines of this existential threat and must therefore be an integral part of the solution. I am a Caribbean woman, myself, and I am on the front line of climate change, living the everyday realities of it in a small island developing state. Women like me can represent the unique needs of other women and children through our work in the field.” — Charlin Bodley, Manager, Global South Program
Charlin Bodley leads RMI’s Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE) Network, advocating for increased gender equality in leadership positions across the energy sector in government agencies, utilities, regulators, and private sector entities. She is also supporting a project to offer energy policy recommendations to the Turks and Caicos government, and co-leading on RMI’s Energy Transition Academy’s Caribbean Fellowship Program. Bodley loves the people-centric nature of her work, and the potential that it has to positively impact lives.
“Globally, women are significantly impacted by climate change. And we need all perspectives included to tackle this global challenge — but women have often been excluded and are underrepresented in fields like energy. For me personally, I hope to make an impact on tackling climate change so that my daughters will have opportunities to pursue their passions, whatever they may be.” — Kaitlyn Bunker, Principal, Global South Program
Kaitlyn Bunker supports Caribbean islands in accelerating their clean and resilient energy transitions. People in the Caribbean region are some of the first to experience direct impacts of climate change, and Bunker is inspired by the actions they are taking to transform their energy systems in order to contribute as little emissions as possible, while meeting local priorities like lowering the costs of electricity, becoming more resilient in the face of increasing hurricanes, creating local jobs and local ownership of the energy system, and more.
“It is important that women work in fields to solve systemic problems like climate change not only because it affects them and their families firsthand, but also because diversity in the workforce at all levels is a critical prerequisite to ensure we achieve a climate solution that is fast, effective, and globally relevant.” — Alessandra Carreon, Manager, Carbon-Free Transportation
Alessandra Carreon works on fostering affordable and accessible EV adoption and charging. Her work also informs the development of responsible and sustainable value chains for EVs, which often source raw materials that come from economically vulnerable regions or whose processing can pose environmental and human rights risks to communities. Carreon says she is driven to work toward a clean energy transition “while ensuring the benefits of the transition reach everyone — especially historically marginalized communities that are often the last or least likely to enjoy those benefits.”
“As a women’s school graduate, I can confidently say that we need women in every field — climate change is no different. Women’s perspectives are crucial in developing new, community-oriented solutions to this issue. Women will be (and already are) on the front lines of devastating climate impacts, which means that they have a vested interest in fighting the root causes.” — Molly Freed, Senior Associate, US Program
Molly Freed is currently pushing policymakers and stakeholders in various American states to adopt bold and equitable climate policy. As each state has its own set of challenges and opportunities, she finds it fascinating to figure out their unique decarbonization pathways. Freed is optimistic about the historic opportunities presented by the Inflation Reduction Act. “It’s truly a gamechanger for states, from environmental justice to economic development,” Freed says.
“Our team often walks into conference rooms as the only women speaking as keynote speakers or panelists. I was really inspired by how [our managing director] Ting handled this during a conference. She would use two minutes in the beginning of her speech to acknowledge that she is the only female speaker at the conference, and she would point out that most of RMI’s Beijing research team are female and we deliver leading thought pieces that everyone should pay attention to.” — Yihan Hao, Principal, China Program
Since Yihan Hao began at RMI, she has worked to help move China toward zero-carbon focusing on green buildings, green power trading, methane mitigation, rural/agriculture decarbonization, supply chain decarbonization, and transitional finance. For Hao, the most exciting thing about her role is witnessing real-world changes that are driven by her team, especially when the key policymakers and corporate leaders recognize their work in public settings.
“Women have to lead the charge in the fight against climate change because the future of our families as well as our next generation is at stake here. We are powerful change agents, and our unique contributions and perspectives can be the key to unlocking the solutions to the energy transition.” — Radhika Lalit, Principal, Climate-Aligned Industries
Radhika Lalit is currently leading RMI’s work on decarbonizing the cement and concrete sector. She also helped launch RMI’s Center for Climate-Aligned Finance and led the design, creation, and implementation of the Global Cooling Prize, an international competition to develop a climate-friendly residential cooling solution. “I get really excited when I’m able to see the direct climate impact of my work,” she says.
“The movements for environmental justice have often been led by women, particularly women of color, because the harms of fossil fuels and of climate change disproportionately fall on the communities least responsible for the problem. Equity and justice are indispensable parts of the solution; the energy transition and its benefits must center on marginalized groups, including women and particularly women of color.” — Kaitlyn Ramirez, Associate, Climate-Aligned Industries
Kaitlyn Ramirez works to advance green hydrogen’s use to decarbonize key industrial sectors. She’s currently working to establish a green hydrogen hub in Mississippi and facilitate the transition away from coal-reliant blast furnace steel plants. She’s energized by the opportunity to work on first-of-their-kind, bright-spot projects that will demonstrate to other players in these industries that the opportunity to transition is already here.
“With the existing gender inequality in much of the world and the associated lack of resources and information, women are more exposed to the adverse impacts of climate change. At the same time, there are fewer women in climate change-related governance and decision-making. This disparity in representation makes climate change a gender issue.” — Samhita Shiledar, Manager, India Program
Samhita Shiledar is working on decarbonizing the transportation system in India, including electrifying delivery vehicles through the Shoonya campaign, promoting zero-emissions trucking, and more. She is most excited about the opportunity to make an on-the-ground impact through her team’s policy and pilots-related work and the opportunity to scale RMI’s solutions in other developing nations.
Stay tuned for next week’s article on March 8, International Women’s Day, which highlights the work RMI is doing to close the gender gap in the climate change space.
Featured image courtesy of IRENA
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