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A New Generation of Activists: Wonder Girls Book

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We’re always on the lookout for inspiring reads, and we’ve got one we can’t wait to share! Wonder Girls: Changing Our World is a call to action that shares the stories of 90 courageous young women activists from around the world who are boldly stepping forward to protect our Earth and uplift communities.

Author Paola Gianturco set out with her 11-year-old granddaughter and co-author, Alex Sangster, to uplift the voices and stories of these young women, and weave them together into a powerful anthology about truly being the change they wanted to see in the world.

“As girls came into their early teens, they were so outraged at the social injustices that they experienced and observed that they marshaled that outrage into activity. They tended to cluster in groups and find power and strength in numbers. I saw that they were causing real change, and I wanted to document it.” — Paola Gianturco, author

Paola traveled for three years and spent time with 15 different girl-led non-profits, documenting and photographing their stories. She worked with interpreters throughout her solo travels who helped to create space for the girls themselves to ensure their voices were portrayed authentically. Paola’s journey took her to across the world, from Malawai to Indonesia, Krygistan to India, and to the United States as well.

What if we told you that Bali’s government is working to be plastic-free by 2018 based on the initiative of two sisters aged 10 and 12 years old? Or that the youth of the Shaheen Women’s Center in India create art that influences police surveillance in high harassment and molestation zones? These are just some of the stories featured Wonder Girls which show that change is not only possible, but it is most impactful when it comes from the ground up with visionary women leading the way.

“These are all women who are actively changing the world, starting in their own communities, and just as you all encourage support for the kinds of issues that the women in my books are supporting, my books also encourages readers to take action on behalf of women and girls they are championing.”  — Paola Gianturco, author


Paola has published six other titles and had her images exhibited at the United Nations, UNESCO, and The Field Museum/Chicago. Her granddaughter, Alex Sangster, a wonder girl herself, launched a children’s program at a global poverty conference in Mexico alongside her sister. Alex contributed meaningful and action-oriented sections at the end of each chapter of Wonder Girls titled, “How You can Change Our World” and conducted many of the interviews herself. She also contributed much of the photography for the Los Angeles and Mexico regions.

You can check out more of the book on the website Wonder Girls Book.

Olanike Olugboji on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

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Olanike Olugboji, the Founder/Director of Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment, and WEA Project Lead for the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstove Project in Nigeria, recently attended the Inclusive Global Summer Institute at the Sié Center in Denver, Colorado. This gathering brings together women-identifying activists from around the world for a three day workshop that creates space for women to grow in their leadership skills for promoting peace, security, and human rights.

Olanike — who is also a WEA Founding Mother — has forged an amazing path for sustainability and economic independence for women in her community and beyond. She has initiated and held capacity building trainings for over 3,000 women to develop entrepreneurial skills to run their own Clean Cookstove businesses. These businesses provide the opportunity for women to have a positive impact on the environment, their health, and their household savings.

You can listen to Olanike speak on gender equality and women’s empowerment in this video from the Inclusive Global Leadership Summer Institute. You can also follow her initiatives on World Pulse.

“We can’t wait for leadership to be handed to us, we have what it takes. And we can move from that place of seeing ourselves as victims or people who are seeking help and change, to people who are creating change, people who are leading change. And that is why women must rise up” Olanike Olugboji.

[In the News] Pulling the Planet Back from the Brink, One Farm at a Time

Project: Planting Seeds of Resilience in Southern India

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Here at WEA, we have spent the last 7 years committed to small scale, regenerative farming practices that restore rather than deplete our lands. Currently, industrial scale agriculture is consuming Earth’s resources in a grossly unsustainable manner and is a primary driver for the destabilization of the worlds ecological balance. A revolution of ecological agriculturalists is necessary to shed light on and bring momentum towards the shift to regenerative farming, a practice that incorporates ecological principles into closed loop farming systems to provide more sustainable means for food production.

This article from The Rockefeller Foundation discusses these issues and the mindset shift that’s needed to make a change.

Photo: Rockefeller Foundation

“As a farmer, I have spent the last few years making transformative changes to my own thinking and agricultural practices… I have studied how other farmers are applying this approach in Australia, Africa, and North and South America. The results, as on our farm, have been remarkable: Healthy landscape function was restored, production increased, biodiversity rebounded, climate change factors were ameliorated, and vastly healthier food was produced.

It is our beliefs that will determine our fate. And there’s reason to believe a new cohort of ecological agriculturalists can alter the course of our civilization with new ideas and practices. They understand that we must embrace a new way of feeding the world, or there won’t be any people left to feed.”

Check out WEA’s support for regenerative farming through our Seeds of Resilience project, and Shakti: Empowering Women Farmers to Lead, an exchange and training project.

A note from WEA’s Founder

This year-end note from WEA’s Founder, Melinda Kramer, is one way we keep our community up to date on the important news impacting our work and world and ways you can get involved!

In this year’s letter, Melinda shares our dream for the kinds of contributions that can best support WEA at year-end:

  1. 20 monthly supporters step forward at the $25, $50, or $125 level. Pooled together, these monthly gifts cover the costs for a woman leader to participate in a year of WEA training;
  2. 5 donors join our Giving Circle, a dynamic group of supporters who pledge $5,000-$50,000 each year for 3 years. This gives us the runway we need to plan our multi-year programming, serving our grassroots partners in a sustained way;
  3. 40 people make a one-time gift of $75 before Dec. 31st so we can meet a $3,000 match made by a generous WEA champion;
  4. 3 people agree to host an event or house party for WEA in 2018, introducing their community to our work;
  5. One person joins the Founders Circle of our Ripple Academy, a group that underwrites the program that will scale our impact across multiple regions.

Read the note in its entirety here, and be sure to sign up on our website to get all our updates in the future.

Who are the trainers of the WISE Clean Cookstoves Training Project?  Meet Regina Poto.

“The women have gathered together to be pioneers of this clean cookstove. I see a lot of passion in them – passion to change lives, passion to go out there and talk to people about the usefulness of the clean cookstove – and I believe with time and with the enthusiasm I see in them, it’s going to go beyond the shores of this nation…clean cookstoves will become a household name.”

Regina Poto has been an invaluable member of our WISE Clean Cookstove Training team!  She is currently serving as Financial Advisor to the 30 women clean cookstove ambassadors and has brought a wealth of knowledge in entrepreneurship, financial management, profitability, marketing, scalability and long-term sustainability.  We are thrilled to have her as a Financial Advisor on this project because of her long tenure in the banking sector — she has been a perfect fit for our WISE team!

In August 2017, Regina led a refresher course on the financial topics and tools covered during our April and May training intensives for the women entrepreneurs. Since then, she has been working with the women to regularly update their business plans based on real order numbers and operating costs they’ve experienced since being in the field.

In the video below, Regina talks about the WISE Clean Cookstoves Training program and the promise of this work:

To learn more about the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project, be sure to visit our project page!