Meet the Interns: Hi, Oriana!

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Summer is almost here, which means we’re welcoming a new cohort of bright and passionate interns to our team! To kick things off, we are so happy to introduce you to Oriana — a talented, dedicated force, and a committed advocate of climate resilience, particularly for displaced communities. She’ll be bringing all of her skills and care to our Programs + Operations team this summer.

Please help us in giving Oriana a very warm welcome!

Name: Oriana Cabrera Piemonte
Hometown: San Jose, CA

If you had a superpower, what would it be (and why)? I wish I knew how to speak every language because being able to communicate with anyone anywhere would give you the ability to connect with so many people and learn so much!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I feel passionate about working in a field that challenges traditional development methods by learning alternative ways to combat food insecurity, poverty, and environmental destruction through grassroots organizing. This is exactly what WEA is doing by empowering rural communities and women to remain at the center of governance and management of their local resources. This is incredibly important as we face increasing climate change related natural disasters that have the ability to displace mass populations and can be a fueling force in local and international conflict. Coming from an immigrant family, I’ve always felt passionate about immigrant and refugee rights especially as I’ve learned more about the connections between climate change, human migration, and the risks that many immigrants might face when crossing borders. Through WEA’s projects, women, children, and communities as a whole have transitioned to be safer spaces that ensure climate resilience and economic opportunity, and potentially limits the number of people forced to move in search of education, employment, or safety.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. Princess Nokia is an artist who has been a huge inspiration to me because she radically challenges societal norms surrounding gender and sexuality through her music. She talks a lot about embracing both masculinity and femininity as well as addressing intersectional issues surrounding race, women, the earth. One of the reasons I really appreciate her as a musician is because she aims at making her concerts safe spaces that prioritize women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.

Why women and why the environment? As I became more involved studying the many intersections between environmental and social justice, I consistently found my studies leading me back to how women were most affected. I became most passionate about this when learning about illegal mining in South America and studying the impacts this had on indigenous women ranging from health impacts to increasing vulnerabilities to human trafficking and sexual violence; and in learning about the many injustices experienced by refugee women and children. Through my studies in international development I felt passionate about the lack of representation and inclusion of women in decision making for projects involving sustainability, employment, and education. Around the world knowledge has been gathered and passed down for generations by women through experiencing environmental changes and living directly in connection to their environment. This knowledge is incredibly valuable, and it must be heard and included when developing viable solutions to social and environmental issues, especially as women face increasing risks from the impacts of climate change.

What does your life outside WEA look like? I try to spend as much of my time as I can in a day outside. I love to be in the sun, whether I am just sitting outside reading or painting, out on a hike, or just walking around the city with friends. I also spend a lot of time with my family who are very involved with the Venezuelan community in the Bay Area so we spend a lot of time dancing and  cooking.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I absolutely love going to the botanical gardens in Golden Gate Park. I love sitting out in the sun for the whole day or walking around and seeing all the beautiful trees, flowers, and the little birds and animals they attract.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I am currently reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and have been watching the shows Atlanta and The Handmaid’s Tale! Some artists I’ve been listening to lately and absolutely love are Kali Uchis, Kaytranada, The Internet, and Anderson Paak.

Indigenous Women Taking Active Role in Bolivia’s Agriculture

Project: Women Collaborating Towards Food Justice in Bolivia

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WEA’s 2006 Transformative Advocacy Exchange in Bolivia

In Bolivia, women play a large role in the agriculture sector. They work to harvest crops, raise livestock and provide food for their families. The changing climate has impacts on the livelihoods of these women as unpredictable storms and irregular rainfall affect the productivity of their crops and security of their income and food.

For the last 10 years, Bolivia’s government and local NGOs have been focused on empowering women and creating decision-making space for them when it comes to adapting to these issues. NGOs have financed projects to empower women farmers, creating space for them in political contexts and empowering them to make changes in their communities.

Here is an excerpt from Al Jazeera’s photo story on women farmers in Bolivia. You can view the whole story here.

“Because of deep-rooted gender inequality, women are less informed, less valued by men and excluded from the decision-making process in the community, making them even more vulnerable.”

WEA’s 2006 Transformative Advocacy Exchange in Bolivia

In 2006, WEA partnered with Global Exchange on a Transformative Advocacy Exchange which led a team of women environmental attorneys on a journey through the regions of La Paz and Santa Cruz in Bolivia. Through this project, these advocates worked with indigenous and women-led organizations to encourage sustainable, indigenous-managed land use and agricultural practices, a necessary focus for agricultural communities as they face these irregular rainfall patterns, higher rates of erosion and inconsistent yields.

It is inspiring to continue to see the incredible skill and knowledge Indigenous women hold as they ensure and preserve their communities food security resources!

Being an Indigenous Women Environmental Activist in Mexico

Project: Mexican Indigenous Women Uniting for Land Protection

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Over the last few years, it has become heartbreakingly evident that being an environmental activist these days is not only difficult, but dangerous as well. In Mexico, being a women environmental activist brings with it anti-activism abuse and gender violence, and being an Indigenous women environmental activist often means an increase in these attacks and the general threat these women face to their lives on a day to day basis.

As this article via Telesur shares, “Women environmental activists in Mexico usually face both abuse over their activism and gender violence. On top of that being Indigenous makes it even more difficult, as Mexico has a big systematical discrimination problem against its Indigenous people.

Photo: Semillas
According to [Angelica Simon, Media Coordinator for Greenpeace Mexico] women play a crucial role in the environmental struggles in Mexico, being one of the social sectors most-affected by the loss of natural resources and climate change. “A general ecological perspective should also be promoted within the gender struggle. Today more than ever we know there can’t be social and environmental justice without equality.”
 
[Furthermore,] the National Network in Defense of Human Rights in Mexico reported 615 aggressions against women human rights defenders between 2012 and 2014, with an average of four per week.
WEA is acutely aware of critical role Indigenous women environmental leaders in Mexico play, ensuring the preservation of communities, culture and the earth. This is one of the reasons we partnered with Semillas—the only women’s fund in Mexico—and the National Network of Indigenous Women Weaving Rights for Mother Earth and Territory (RENAMITT) in 2014 to support Indigenous women who were gathering together to protect the earth in the face of development and land dispossession. Our hope is that through efforts like these that bring communities of women together, we can also increase the safety of these brave leaders as they stand on the frontlines of this movement.

Read the entire article from Telesur here.

Women4Climate Conference: Mexico City

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The 2nd Annual Women4Climate Conference took place yesterday in Mexico City, where women leaders from across the globe came together to discuss the response of cities to climate change and the important role women have in shaping our collective future, particularly in urban areas.

Women leaders in government — such as mayors from cities including Rome, Washington D.C., Madrid, Seattle, Capetown, and Montreal — gathered together with innovative women changemakers and business leaders to focus on critical issues like air quality, climate resilience, social inclusion and innovation, sustainable global food systems, climate change through a business lens, and how men and women can work together to create a sustainable future.

When looking at the future of cities, questions arose such as will decision-makers in these urban spaces choose to build new luxury apartments, or instead redesign pavements so that more water will return to the earth rather than runoff into the oceans? Will they choose to design new malls, or instead build sea walls to protect communities from frequent storms and sea level rise? Answers to these questions facing city planners will decide the impacts that climate change will have on the communities living within these city boundaries, as well as the global population effected by these choices.

“Cities will be the battleground and women can be effective warriors on the front-lines in the fight against climate change.” — Women at the Front Can Help Defeat Global Warming, say Leaders

Not only did Women4Climate attendees discuss the future of cities, but also the future of the next generation of women leaders. As part of the conference, young women dedicated to climate action are receiving training and mentorship to transform their visions for a sustainable future into reality. During the inaugural Women4Climate Conference in 2017, Paris and Mexico City launched the first mentorship programs for emerging women leaders. Each mentee developed their own individual project alongside their mentor, with topics ranging from on site clean energy for businesses in Mexico to strategies to hold restaurants accountable for their ecological impacts in Paris. Take a look at all of the inspiring women leaders and their projects here.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo speaks during the C40 Cities Women4Climate event on March 15, 2017 in New York City. Photo: C40 Cities
(L-R) Mark Watts, Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, Cape town Mayor Patricia de lille, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Alexandra Plat, Durban Mayor Zandile Gumede and Caracas Mayor Helen Fernandez. Photo: C40 Cities

“Men have had their time in power and brought us here; now it is time for women to also lead. Yes, we are unstoppable. And our movement keeps growing. Join us and be a part of it.” – C40 Women Leaders

Read more about the event in the articles below:

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.