I am Generation Equality: Louise Mabulo, Philippine chef, farmer and activist

Billions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilise, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.

I am Generation Equality because…

I believe that any woman has the right to do whatever it is she sets her mind to, and that she has a right to be viewed as an equal, in any place and in any industry.

I am a chef and a farmer. Both are well known to be male-dominated industries. And despite the stereotypes that women belong in the kitchen and that gardening is a feminine pastime, I’ve noticed that when a skill or a hobby becomes a professional career or an industry … it ceases to be viewed as feminine. Suddenly the kitchens and farms are no longer a place for a woman. I’ve always wanted to chisel away at these stereotypes and empower other young women to take on these roles, while still being proud of their femininity.

The climate threat

The climate crisis is one of the more looming threats, with many populations disproportionately affected across the world, and yet the gravity of its impact is not something that many people consider greatly urgent in the short-term perspective.

Poverty, food security, peace and justice are just some of the main issues I aim to tackle with my work, and are at the forefront of my mind in terms of sheer urgency to address, especially knowing that these also go on to have an impact on our climate, and on the systems that dictate our future.

The responsibility of youths 

My advice to young people is to rethink the world you exist in, and address the preconceived notions and ideas you may have. It’s important to work on ourselves first and dismantle our own biases or prejudice before we go out into the world to make change.

But once you do take action, start local within your own communities, which you know best and are able to empathize with, and take responsibility for the issues you personally know you face in these communities.

The responsibility of men 

Men can do their part by supporting, empowering and respecting women who are building careers in these industries. 

I have to give credit to my dad, who encouraged me to try everything — cooking, farming, sports or whatever it was I set my mind to — even if they weren’t conventionally accepted interests. And I wish more people would do the same for young women under them too.

To be a women’s rights activist is to be a human rights activist. It is to ensure we build world systems that are equitable, that are fair, that leave no one behind. 

It means you stand up for me, and for my voice. The voice of your mother, and the voices of young girls who will one day go on to be farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs, presidents, world-builders and life-savers.

Louise Mabulo, 22, is based in San Fernando, Camarines Sur province of the Philippines. She is the founder of The Cacao Project, a social venture aimed at equipping farmers for sustainable success. She is a United Nations Environment Programme Young Champion of the Earth, National Geographic Young Explorer, and Forbes Under 30 Honouree.

Originally published on UN Women’s regional website for Asia and the Pacific