RiverAdventures: Discovering Women Empowerment

RiverAdventures: Discovering Women Empowerment

By Marie Aislinn Cabriole, 2017 Vera Thiess Fellowhip recipient

Once upon a time, I visited the enchanting river of Tweed. I feel like that is the best way to start my blog
about my trip to one of the 2017 Thiess International Riverprize finalists, the Tweed Forum in Scotland
[United Kingdom]. Seeing the picturesque Tweed River with its serene surroundings, I felt I was in a fairy
tale.

One common theme in fairy tales that I used to watch or read when I was kid is the presence of a
princess who needs to be rescued from an evil villain. That is not the case with my story about the
Tweed River. The people I have met are the ones who have fought their way and helped themselves
from the challenges they have experienced. Discussing river management and rehabilitation with the
water leaders from the Tweed Forum and member organizations is an eye-opening and enlightening
experience for both sides due to the technical and sociocultural differences. Furthermore, I also got to
know them as a person, and learn from their insights.

With the Tweed Forum champions, I was reminded to not forget and celebrate the good things that
have been accomplished. With Anna Griffin of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), I
realized that growing as a professional does not mean sacrificing other parts of your life. The wonderful
women of James Hutton Institute motivated me with their interesting opinions on empowerment as
women in science. Spending time at the University of Dundee, I felt spirited to do what moves me and
to not restrict my choices because others say so. Talking with them inspired me to not just be a damsel
in distress, but to be the hero in my own story.

Currently, the story I am writing is about the RiverAdventures I had with the Vera Thiess Fellowship for
Women. I see the Fellowship’s goal of providing opportunities to help in “advancing women’s
participation in water and river management” as a two-way street. Women empowerment is not just
about providing women the opportunity, it is also about the women being open to grab the chance
given to them.

With my visit to the Tweed River, I learned others’ take on women empowerment in relation to river
management or to science. In the process, I also got the chance to reflect on my own take. Women
empowerment and river management is not just about finding but working for that “happily ever after”
ending.

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