By Dr. Safeeya Mohammed
‘The view of the world through a female lens, particularly in positions of influence, is certainly something that can revolutionize the way we do things: from the decisions that are made, the way people are engaged to effect change and the way we go about our daily lives,” shares Dr. Marissa Gowrie.
The Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is the landmark multilateral environmental agreement that regulates the production and consumption of nearly 100 man-made chemicals referred to as ozone depleting substances (ODS). Adopted on 15 September 1987, the Protocol is to date the only UN treaty ever that has been ratified every country on Earth - all 198 UN Member States.
The Montreal Protocol also makes important contributions to the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Given all of these factors and more, the Montreal Protocol is considered to be one of the most successful environmental agreements of all time. What the parties to the Protocol have managed to accomplish since 1987 is unprecedented, and it continues to provide an inspiring example of what international cooperation at its best can achieve.
Earlier this year, one of our “daughters of our T&T soil” was appointed Vice President of the Montreal Protocol and highlighted as one of five women of the Montreal Protocol making a difference and leading the charge on environmental protection to build a more sustainable future for all.
The five women of the Montreal Protocol highlighted at IWD:
1. Liana Ghahramanyan, Montreal Protocol and Vienna Convention Focal Point, National Ozone Unit, Ministry of Environment, Armenia
2. GUO Xiaolin, Deputy Director, Foreign Environmental Cooperation Center Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China
3. Marissa Gowrie, Deputy Environmental Manager/National Ozone Officer, Environmental Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Planning and Development, Trinidad and Tobago
4. Cindy Newberg, Director, Stratospheric Protection Division, United States Environmental Protection Agency, USA
5. Maria Ujfalusi, Senior Adviser, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, EU Unit, Sweden
Females are held in Equal Stead
“From my experience, the Montreal Protocol has provided this platform of equity, where females are held in equal stead with our male counterparts, allowing female ozone champions the avenue to contribute in a meaningful way toward the protection of the ozone layer at the global, regional and national levels. It has allowed that space for gender diversity, and a balance in the expression of opinion where voices of women are heard and valued, and the traits of resilience, determination, attention to detail, sensitivity and multitasking are incorporated into our global efforts. This has without a doubt contributed to the overwhelming success of this multilateral environmental agreement,” shared Dr. Marissa Gowrie.
Protecting the Environment is not a job, it is a way of life
She has been in the environmental field for the last 22 years and holds dear to her heart, her early academic experiences, “I am a proud graduate of St. Augustine Girls High School and from then the University of the West Indies where I obtained a PhD in Environmental Biology.”
Elected by the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), Dr. Marissa Gowrie holds one of three Vice Presidency Posts to the Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol for 2022.
As one of the Vice Presidents, Dr. Gowrie has the important role of supporting the President to ensure that all Parties, members and participants follow the rules of procedure for both the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention.
Her source of strength
Dr. Marissa Gowrie shares, “I feel extremely fulfilled to be able to contribute to the work of protecting the ozone layer and be a positive example, not only to my daughter, but all young ladies who may dream of one day getting involved in saving our planet.”
“Being true to your word, genuine, reliable, as inclusive as possible, and ensuring open and honest communication with everyone I interact with in this field have been key elements in overcoming any challenges. I have also learned that if ever things seems overwhelming you should never be afraid to ask for help, Being able to accept support is actually a sign of strength.”
She emphasizes her gratitude to those along her journey. “I have always been blessed to be surrounded by persons who have encouraged and supported me. This includes my family, my parents, daughter and husband, my friends as well as the network of amazing people that make up the National Ozone Unit Family and the Montreal Protocol Family, nationally, regionally and internationally. There unwavering support has certainly propelled me to be the best version of my professional self.”
World Refrigeration Day
– June 26
What can we do to encourage more women to pursue career in air conditioning and refrigeration?
“Air conditioning and refrigeration is a fast growing and important sector. Although this industry is traditionally male-dominated, I think it offers a great challenge and opportunity for women to become involved and they should not be afraid to transform stereotypes and break the barriers of traditional thinking.
I encourage women interested in this sector to seize the opportunities for training and development that exist and develop their skill and unique talent. As a mother of a girl myself, I think it is important that we encourage their curiosity and natural interest with programs and activities at a young age and keep the spark alive during their developmental journey. No matter your gender, the only person who can ever limit your growth is yourself, you have it within you to be whomever and whatever you want to be!