Inspiring Young Woman Leader of the Week: Pippa Gardner

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Credit: Becky Tompkinson

Pippa Gardner (22) set up her Speak Out, Reach Out, Camp Out project in 2010 with the aim to inspire her peers to take action on the Millennium Development Goals. She’s been a member of Girlguiding UK and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts since the age of 5 and continues to volunteer as a leader within the movement.

How did you get started in your field?

I was really inspired by attending the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) – Young Women’s World Forum in 2010. It taught me a lot about the Millennium Development Goals and I met hundreds of amazing young women from around the world. After that experience I set up my Speak Out, Reach Out, Camp Out project to really advocate for how the issues focused on in the MDGs are relevant in the UK to inspire my peers to take action to help achieve those goals.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

I think speaking at the UN was a massive achievement for me – another opportunity given to me by WAGGGS. I got to talk about my project and how young people could contribute to achieving gender equality. The chair of the discussion really listened to what I said and brought it up in later presentations. I was a very shy child and many people who have known me a long time tell me how much confidence I’ve gained through these opportunities in recent years.

What skill/attitude etc. has contributed to your success?

Never giving up. If you really want to achieve something I believe you just have to keep working at it and you’ll get there in the end. I once heard Leymah Gbowee speak and she said – “Small Steps, creating a Huge Impact, and leave a Lifetime Legacy.” That’s what I hope to achieve.

What has been your biggest leadership test?

I think it’s important to remember you don’t need to be the one at the front with the fancy job title to be the one doing the leading. I went to the Rio+20 summit in June 2012 and one of the things I was advocating for was sexual and reproductive health rights. I wasn’t able to get up and speak in front of the heads of state, but by having a strong message and telling the right people with a persuasive argument you can lead them and direct their future actions. I think trying to influence governments is a massive leadership test, but it’s important not to be intimidated because you’re young – but also don’t try to be like the people in suits. Being young, having passion and speaking with honesty are important for your message to be heard and for you to lead the way.

Can you talk about one woman who has impacted you during your work or outside of work?

Leymah Gbowee definitely inspired me right from the beginning of my project. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and speak with her a few times and she really is awesome. I suggest looking her up on YouTube and listening to her stories and how she speaks. It should inspire anyone!

What advice do you have for young female leaders who would want to go into your field?

Even if you make a difference to just 1 other person through whatever you do, then you have changed the world a little bit for the better. Never underestimate the power of you taking one small step to contribute to massive change on a global scale.

 

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