Meet the Interns: Hey, Alana!

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One of the best parts of doing what we do is meeting and working with the next generation of change-makers committed to a healthy and thriving Earth through our internship program. We’re honored to have had a chance to work with Alana this fall. Keep an eye out for her — she’s poised have a beautiful and lasting impact for women and our communities!

Name: Alana Young
Hometown: San Mateo, CA
 
If you had a superpower, it would be (and why): 
I would love to be able to fly so I can travel all over the world (and avoid Bay Area traffic!)
 
Why did you want to intern/volunteer with WEA?
I am passionate about environmental issues, global health, and women’s empowerment, and I think these issues are all deeply connected, so interning with WEA seemed like the perfect way to integrate all of my values into impactful work.
 
Tell us about a woman or women-led movement that who inspires you. 
I am extremely inspired by my grandmother. She grew up during a time when women were discouraged from going to school, but she still went to college and fiercely encouraged my sister and I to pursue our education and passions because she knew that education is vital for improving one’s life.
 
Why women and why the environment?
I profoundly agree with the way WEA frames this issue: when women thrive, the earth thrives. The environment and women are uniquely linked in that they are both beautiful sources of nourishment and life, yet they are often taken for granted and abused. If we can reverse our extractivist mentality about both women and the environment, I think we can mend past harms born of ignorance, selfishness, and inequality to ensure that women and the earth thrive far into the future.
 
What does your life outside WEA look like?
My life outside of WEA includes a lot of reading in bed with my dog, exploring San Francisco on weekends, taking care of my plants, and spending as much time as I can outside hiking and camping.
 
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area?
I love to explore the diverse art and culture that the Bay Area has to offer. You can usually find me on some form of public transportation trying to get to a museum, concert, restaurant, or art fair.
 
What are you currently reading / watching / listening to?
I am currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (which is extremely important for anyone who has ever benefited from modern medical advancements to read so they can understand the deep intersections and inequalities involved with race, gender, education, class, and health) and a trilogy by Philip Pullman. For comic relief I have been watching Broad City and The Good Place. I am listening to Shakey Graves, Kendrick Lamar, and several podcasts including Nancy, Ear Hustle, and The Moth (all highly recommended!!).

Meet Binta: Clean Cookstove Entrepreneur and Inspiring Leader

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

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Binta (with glasses) at the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Training.

Binta Yahaya is a member of the Women of Vision Development Initiative (WVDI), an NGO active in grassroots entrepreneurship, community mobilization and environmental advocacy in Lere Local Government, a rural town in Kaduna State, Nigeria. She was part of a team that successfully led women to advocate for changes to land inheritance laws and campaigned for political inclusion of women in wards and village councils. She also promoted tree planting for erosion control and anti-desertification campaigns, trained women to use organic manure for fertilizing farmlands to mitigate the harmful effects of chemical fertilizers, and advocated for household sanitation and personal hygiene among women in rural areas as a means of controlling the spread of communicable diseases.

Binta primarily used a traditional firewood stove for all her cooking needs but became interested in our WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Training Program when she began to recognize her cooking fuel must be toxic. She said “on the top part of the stove, there is accumulated soot”, which she imagined was “dangerous to inhale.”  She became aware of the health, environmental, and livelihood problems such as air pollution, illness and disproportionate negative impacts on girls and women in her community stemming from this traditional method of cooking and wanted to bring home a solution.

Upon being selected to participate in our Clean Cookstoves Training, Binta received technical and entrepreneurship skills training, a seed grant, ongoing peer support, and access to a global network of women leaders like herself. After the first week of capacity-building training, Binta was inspired by the life-saving importance of the clean cookstove technology and immediately started selling. She returned to her community with greater knowledge of the health, safety and security risks associated with cooking with firewood and gained credibility in clean energy, clean cookstove options and utilization. By the time Binta returned for the second week of training, she had already sold 70 clean cookstoves to her local community!

Despite losing her father shortly after the second week of training, Binta managed to channel her grief and energy into becoming the first woman entrepreneur in our program to reach our target of 120 clean cookstoves sold within five months. One of Binta’s customers used to spend 200 Naira ($0.55 USD) on firewood every day but, since buying a clean cookstove, she repurposes the 150 Naira she saves every day to buy fabric for her new clothing enterprise. Another customer was frequently treated for eye irritation from prolonged exposure to smoke. Since buying a clean cookstove from Binta, her eyes are no longer irritated and she is able to save the money she previously spent on medicine.

But Binta didn’t stop there! After recognizing the primary market in her community was made up of artisanal farmers, she embarked on a complementary business venture to produce and sell charcoal briquettes made from any unused agricultural waste, which can be used by households as a clean source of fuel for cooking and heating. With the $50-120 profit she earns from selling clean cookstoves each month, she has been able to invest in new machinery for mixing, molding and cutting to help streamline the charcoal briquette making process. For perspective on the success of her business, one of these machines costs roughly $800-1,000 USD. Binta now has her own growing business and has become recognized as a leader and role model for young girls by both women and men in her community. This is especially significant in a society where women rarely hold such accolades.

Binta has also designed her own version of a clean cookstove, modeled after one of the current cookstoves on the market (Nenu cookstove). The dimensions of the stove are a bit smaller and, uniquely, has two compartments instead of one.  This extra, lower compartment gives a woman the added flexibility to bake bread or dry fish in the compartment while she is cooking. She had a prototype made by a local artisan, which she is currently testing with the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (NACC).  She gifted the first prototype to our partner, WISE (Women’s Initiative to Sustainable Environment), as a sign of gratitude. “You have already changed my life but you don’t know it…because If I had to pay for what I learned from you, I don’t think I could afford it. I have no words to say thank you.”

For more information on our WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project, visit our project page and to learn more about WISE’s work, please visit their website.

Meet The Interns: Hi, Arianna!

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Wondering who’s helping to keep the magic behind our social media going this summer? Please help us welcome Arianna to our WEA intern team! She a senior at the University of San Francisco, and will be using her passion for writing and social change to support our communications and the women environmental leaders we work with around the world.

Get to know Arianna better below!

Name: Arianna Casabonne

Hometown: Brentwood, California

If you had a super power what would it be (and why)? If I could have one superpower it would be to teleport. Partially because I would love to be able to easily travel the world, but also because it would be so convenient to be able to show up where ever I need to be immediately. I would never have to commute or ride the bus!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I really wanted to intern with an organization that was doing work that I could identify with on a more personal level, and WEA is just that! The current state of the environment and where we’re heading makes it absolutely urgent that we take care of our planet. Also, for as long as I can remember I’ve always felt passionate about women’s rights and leadership. WEA’s mission is a great fit for what I’m interested in and what I want to work towards.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. My mom, of course! She works extremely hard and handles everything and everyone around her with patience, love, and kindness. I aspire to be a woman like her who is dedicated and hardworking but also kind and empathetic to people and the environment.

Why women and the environment? Women are disproportionately affected by environmental catastrophes. When girls have to give up on their education and future careers to help their families as a result of environmental difficulties, an inequality that already exists is deepened.

What does life outside of WEA look like? I love spending time writing, drawing, listening to music, and working on crafty projects. I attend a lot of music festivals and love trying new things with my friends. I just moved back from a 5 month stay in France so I’m working on growing my plant collection again.

What’s you favorite thing to do in the bay area? There is so many it’s impossible to choose! I live in San Francisco so of course I love Dolores park, Golden Gate park, and Off The Gird. I’m always looking out for artists I love playing at small venues in the city.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? The Gorrilaz just came out with a new album so I’ve been listening to that a lot, but I love so much music It’s impossible to name it all. Right now, I’m reading Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Every summer I watch a show called Big Brother with my friends and my mom. Although I don’t love reality TV, we get really into this show and schedule times to watch it together.

Calling Women Leaders in India – Inaugural India Ripple Academy Learning Lab Applications Are Open

Project: Building Peace Through the Ripple Academy

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Applications for the India Ripple Academy Learning Lab are now open and we’re looking for women environmental leaders who are ready to strengthen and grow their work. If you are a leader in your community in India and working to transform environmental challenges into solutions, WEA invites you to apply to join our Ripple Academy Learning Lab! Environmental solutions could include safe drinking water, sustainable farming, clean cookstoves, seed saving, women’s land ownership and/or stewardship, ecotourism, food security, community disaster preparedness, and climate resilience among others. Applications are due July 31, 2018.

The India Learning Lab will be a 2-month program that includes a 3-day workshop in Rishikesh, September 14-16, and interactive online training. The Lab will support women leaders across India to strengthen their grassroots environmental initiatives and solutions, increasing the impact and sustainability of their vital work. In addition, Learning Lab participants will gain a greater sense of personal resilience and empowerment through connection with other women leaders working on similar initiatives in their region, building a powerful support system that will last long after the Learning Lab is complete. The 2-month journey will include:

  • Trainings on project design and management for impact, entrepreneurship, fundraising and marketing strategies, leadership, and special topics on environmental sectors
  • Discussion forums to share challenges, solutions, questions, and resources
  • Relationship-building with other women leaders, potential mentors, and specialists
  • Activities to celebrate participants’ unique cultural traditions (dances, songs, stories)
  • Exercises to promote self-care and resilience

As environmental issues intensify, women are often those most impacted by its effects, and are also those best positioned to address these impacts. Therefore, we recognize how crucial it is to invest in women and the solutions they know will work best for their communities. Fewer than 7% of global philanthropic dollars goes directly toward investing in women despite it being proven as the #1 most effective environmental and social welfare investment. WEA’s work centers women’s leadership, recognizing that the time is now to ensure that women environmental leaders on the frontlines are supported, resourced, and networked. The India Ripple Academy Learning Lab will equip these women leaders with resources and tools to forge high-impact environmental solutions that scale so they can do their work of protecting our earth and empowering communities.  

The Ripple Academy is a partnership of WEA and United Religions Initiative (URI).

Read more about the India Learning Lab and apply here.

Meet the Interns: Hey, Sadie!

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WEA is ecstatic to introduce you to one of our newest interns, Sadie! Her passion and devotion to protecting women and the environment makes her a perfect addition to our Programs + Operations Team. Sadie will be bringing her incredible skill set and warm spirit to our team for the rest of summer, and we’re so honored!

Help us welcome Sadie and read more about her below!

Name: Sadie Gray

Hometown: pacific palisades, CA

If you had a super power what would it be (and why)? I wish I had the ability to teleport because being able to travel anywhere on the planet in an instant would be a dream come true!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? As a Global Studies major with a concentration in Development, I’ve spent time studying how international development can often be more destructive than beneficial. Many development projects go wrong or go nowhere because organizations do not work on local levels, overlooking communication with those they are trying to help. WEA stood out to me because it is different in this sense, WEA’s philosophy embraces empowerment and education of women in local communities where things like climate change and contaminated water are effecting their daily lives. I’ve always been passionate about working to protect the environment, but felt as though there was so little I could actually do to effect change. Once I came across WEA, my view changed because I realized I could be involved in an organization that creates tangible change with all the right people in all the right places.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. I’ve long been inspired by the career of Maria Shriver. She’s been a champion of women from all walks of life. During her time as first lady of California, she created The Women’s Conference which donated millions to women’s charities. Her work covers so many different bases, from investing in female entrepreneurs, to providing health care – she has always has women’s rights and empowerment as the foundation of her career.

Why women and why the environment? women have time and time again proven that they are are resilient and eager to deal with issues facing the  environment, despite being unprivileged in access to resources, education, and information. Women often face the burden of being the sole farmer and water provider for their families, but as climate change challenges normalcy of their daily routine, young girls are dropping out of school to help their mothers. This only perpetuates the inequality gap we see between men and women. That’s why its so important that we make an effort to work for and with the communities of women who are willing to improve the future of the environment.

What does life outside of WEA look like? I am a student at UC Berkeley, but when I am not occupied with schoolwork I love spending time outdoors and being active. Spending time with friends & family, cooking and drawing are my favorite ways to unwind!

What’s your favorite thing to do in the bay area? My favorite thing in the bay is hiking up the Clark Kerr fire trails at sunset, the view from the top is amazing and the hike is short but steep!

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I am currently trying to learn Spanish so I am re-watching Grace & Frankie on Netflix, but this time in Spanish! I’m reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and loving listening to Leon Bridges and Jacob Banks.