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10 questions about tomorrow for... Cordelia Röders-Arnold

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portrait of cordelia röders-arnold

If we want to create a better tomorrow for us all, there are a lot of issues that need tackling. We asked Cordelia Röders-Arnold, who works as Head of Menstruation at einhorn, which ones are at the top of her list, where we stand at the moment and what needs to change for us to finally start making progress.

1. What are the three most pressing ecological and/or social issues for you right now – and why?

Gender equality, because the crisis – e.g. in terms of low wages in the caregiving profession, the double burden of working from home and home-schooling and a lack of political codetermination – is primarily falling on women’s shoulders, and highlights the structural disadvantages that women are still facing.

Racism, because black people and people of colour are experiencing structural discrimination – and we finally need to face this fact, everywhere, of course, but explicitly here in Germany.

And the climate crisis, because manmade climate change isn’t going anywhere and is urgent, so we need to find solutions. We need to get to the point where society is equal and anti-racist – but for that we also need a healthy planet that we can all live on.

2. When was the first time you really got to grips with these issues and how did it change how you think and act?

Ever since I was a child, my mother has been drumming it into me that women are entitled to the same equal opportunities as men. My work as Head of Menstruation at einhorn, a sustainable start-up for period products and vegan condoms, which is self-owned and committed to positive social change, has given me much more of an insight into feminism and the topic of sustainability. And working with women affected by discrimination as part of the #stattblumen (#insteadofflowers) initiative was a good starting point for a deeper discussion of the topic of racism. For me, a good gateway to social topics is spending time with people who know a lot more about a subject than you do – which is why it’s so important to leave your bubble every now and again and broaden your horizons.

3. What needs to change politically and/or socially so we can finally make progress with these topics?

Throughout society we need more awareness and in the political arena we need a government whose top priority isn’t economic growth and whose core KPI isn’t the GDP, but the happiness of its people and a healthy planet where these people can thrive.

4. How are you doing your bit?

In my work at einhorn I am committed to normalising periods. And I work together with the team to make customers aware that it’s worth watching out for transparent and fair supply chains, and not just in the food industry. (Organic) cotton in particular is a raw material that we should all be questioning the origin of and also checking its harvesting conditions. We are bringing female empowerment and sustainability together with our Papperlacup menstruation cup, which can be used over and over again for several years, is made in Germany and, like all our products, 50 percent of the profits go to sustainability projects such as the building of wells in Tanzania, where our organic cotton comes from.

As well as working at einhorn, I am also involved in the #stattblumen initiative, which is tackling gender inequality. Working together with 13 other fantastic women, my co-initiator Sally Lisa Starken and I sent an appeal to the German government demanding 11 political measures for more equality. We were recently given the opportunity to submit our appeal to Franziska Giffey, the Minister for Women’s Affairs, and Hubertus Heil, the Federal Minister of Labour, and discuss the subject and possible solutions with them. Having our appeal heard by the federal government of Germany was an important milestone – but our work isn’t done yet. On our Instagram account @statt.blumen we appeal to people with an interest in equality and political involvement and put political decisions in context.

To help me become more conscious about racism, I reflect on my own behaviour, for example with books like ‘Exit Racism’ by Tupoka Ogette or ‘Deutschland Schwarz Weiß’ (Germany Black and White) by Noah Sow. But there’s also a lot of good inspiration on social media. Josephine Apraku, co-founder of the Institute for Non-Discriminatory Education, recently started a challenge on Instagram called ‘kritische Weiß_heiten’ and every day she posts a question that I, as a white person, can try to answer and it helps me to reflect on myself. So far, I’ve found the questions and my answers to be very eye-opening. As a white, able-bodied cis woman, I try to recognise structural discrimination, reflect on my own privilege and show solidarity.

5. If you were the country’s Finance Minister for a day, what would you do?

I would introduce top taxation rates and taxes on financial transactions. And then in the evening I would breathe a huge sigh of relief that I don’t have to do that job permanently and swap places with the Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

6. Who inspires you when it comes to creating positive change – and why?

The tireless work of other activists within and outside of my network inspires me so much. Whenever I’m tired or annoyed by the discussions that things aren’t moving quickly enough or even at all, it often inspires me to see how other activists, a company or an initiative are standing up for an issue related to positive change. Positive change is contagious – and that’s what gives me so much hope.

7. When I picture the future, I see…

So many people who want to contribute to positive social change and who are less and less willing to let business and politics get away with the opposite.

8. What do you personally want to look back on when you’re older?

That I always did what felt right, was honest with myself and got to know brilliant people, learning from them and working on positive social change.

9. One thing that always gives me hope is….

…that change is possible. After all, we built the world we are living in so we can also change it ourselves. It will be a real feat, but it is possible. And definitely worth it.

10. What’s your tip for anyone who wants to initiate change, but doesn’t know where they should start?

It might sound a bit like a Dalai Lama quote, but I think it’s true: change begins with yourself so you should find your own blind spot, shine the floodlights on it, break your own patterns, invite others with you on your journey and take action.

Fotocredit: Verena Brandt