When we look at risk and try to assess risk, it’s very difficult, because risk is subjective. Risk changes with our perceptions. And if we look at risk through the lens of the individual, it can seem quite daunting, petrifying even, but if we look at risk through the lens of our common humanity, it lessens, and it shrinks.
My individual risk is one, firstly a financial. I sold my home, I gave up my job and leveraged my last asset, my car, because I believed my actions could create change. So I created an organization dedicated to combating apathy and empowering voice in women and children around the world. Specifically in conflict zones, where voices are most trampled.
I also take physical risk, I work in a conflict zone, it comes with its own relative assessment of risk. And I would say I probably have used up more than one of my nine lives, but when you weigh the individual risk that I take, against the risk of inaction, it’s a no brainer. The fight is not with someone else. The fight is with me and it’s with you. It is with those brave girls around the world, citizen diplomats and activists standing up and taking on the challenges of our global community. Because the reward is social justice, world peace and a common humanity that believes everyone has a voice, everyone has potential.
So if we can consider a change in perception of victimhood and of risk, how do we manifest real change? I believe it starts with voice: yours, ours and theirs. Empowering victims to have a voice changes lives, communities and countries from within, organically and sustainably, creating a catalytic effect through the individual.
So as we leave here tonight, I would like you to consider your perception of risk. Risk doesn’t mean that you have to start an organization that works in a war zone. It is a risk to speak for someone that doesn’t have a voice, it’s a risk to say “no”, it’s a risk to say “yes”. But that’s life, life is a series of risks and opportunities.
If we want to see a world without oppression, conflicts, without genocide, without human trafficking, we have to take risks, change does not happen by playing safe. So, leave here and use your voice. Implore others to use theirs. And assess the risks of doing nothing in your own life.
Look outside yourself and into your community, and look to where you could perhaps speak for children, abused women, refugees, the homeless. Because you see them as more than victims, you see them – you see us, as catalysts for a better world.