Meet the Interns: Oh hey, Ro!

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Ever wonder who keeps these blog posts coming? Who keeps the drumbeat of our social media channels going? Well, it’s a team effort, and this summer that effort is being led by WEA’s Communications + Outreach Intern, Ro! As a current Media Studies major at the University of California, Berkeley, we couldn’t dream of anyone more ideal to be helping us to make sure our community (that’s you!) is as up-to-date and engaged with our work and partners as possible.

We’re so excited to share with you a little bit more about this communications powerhouse! Meet Ro!

Name: Roisin (Ro) Duffy
Hometown: Mill Valley, CA

If you had a superpower, what would it be (and why)?: To have the ability to control time! I often think of times when I wish I could rewind and relive a specific/memorable event, or pause a great moment so I could really take it in and appreciate it for as long as possible. Time flies when you’re having fun and loving a moment, so why not have the power to pause and/or go back and experience it all over again?

Why did you want to intern with WEA? WEA’s mission is to protect the earth and strengthen communities by equipping women with the power to do so. I think that this goal is incredibly important, as gender equality and female empowerment are elements which are often overlooked when it comes to environmental issues. However, these elements are so important to take into account as women are often the backbone of communities. I fully support WEA’s goals and I wanted an opportunity to be a part of WEA’s mission.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. I am currently on the Cal Women’s Rowing team, and I honestly would have to say that every single girl who is a part of that team is an inspiration to me. It is truly inspiring being surrounded by such driven, hardworking, and supportive individuals—they are my motivation.

Why women and why the environment? I have always had a passion for the outdoors and the environment—I think that growing up in such a beautiful area contributed to this passion. In addition, I have always had a passion for women’s rights and gender equality. I have taken a number of Gender and Women Studies classes at Cal, which has really opened my eyes to gender related issues and has piqued my interests even more. Women are incredibly important to our communities, and we can only better our communities (and the world) by empowering women and giving them the opportunities to do so.

What does your life outside WEA look like? I am a senior at Cal majoring in Media Studies. In addition to that, I am also on the Cal Women’s Rowing team, which defines me in so many ways and is something that I truly love being a part of (go bears!). In my free time I love being outside, adventuring with my friends and my family, eating and exploring new restaurants, and of course being with my dogs.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I am a Bay Area native, so being at home with my family and friends is one of my favorite things. I also love going to the beach (Stinson beach) with my dogs and swimming (when it’s not too cold!)

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I am currently watching the new season of Orange is the New Black and catching up on Game of Thrones! I have also been listening to a podcast called “My Favorite Murder” (which I highly recommend!).

Meet the Interns: Welcome Megan!

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Are you as excited as we are to welcome our summer interns to the team? Megan is yet another intelligent, skilled and dedicated women who will be supporting our Programs + Operations team this summer.

 
A current Master’s student at the University of San Francisco, we can’t wait to read Megan’s thesis on the gendered impacts of community-based conservation initiatives at Amboseli National Park in Kenya, and see the positive impact she makes for women and environment in her career. We’re so lucky to work with her!

Name: Megan Clemens
Hometown: Broomfield, Colorado

If you had a superpower, what would it be (and why)? 
If I had a superpower, I would want it to be the ability to speak many languages because I have always wanted to be multilingual. Other than English I am proficient in Spanish, but someday I hope to learn more languages.

 
Why did you want to intern with WEA? I wanted to Intern at WEA because I am passionate about WEA’s mission to bolster female leadership while protecting the environment. Female empowerment and environmental sustainability are issues that represent a big part of who I am both personally and academically. Also, interning at WEA means working with a very impressive and amazing group of women.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. This is a tough question, because there are so many inspiring women in my life. However, since I was a very young girl I have been inspired by Jane Goodall because her approach to researching chimpanzees was completely revolutionary, and she has also become an incredible leader for conservation. Also, she is 83 years old and traveling and sharing her messages of hope and inspiring change — which is pretty awesome!

Why women and why the environment? Since I was a young girl I have always felt drawn to the outdoors, the environment and conservation. Growing up I spent most of my time outdoors — climbing trees in my backyard, going on mountain biking adventures with my family. I always watched animal planet any chance I got and read every book I could on topics related to conservation. As I grew up I became more aware of women’s issues and was able to piece together the intersectionality of women’s issues and environmental issues. I was incredibly inspired by Vandana Shiva and Maria Mies’ book on Ecofeminism, and I am currently researching topics related to women and the environment through my master’s course work and independent research.

What does your life outside WEA look like? I am pursuing a Master’s degree in International Studies at the University of San Francisco. Currently I am working on my thesis, researching the gendered impacts of conservation development in Kenya. I will be traveling back to Kenya later on this summer to interview Maasai women living near Amboseli National Park about their experience with wildlife conservation and tourism. Outside of school and WEA, I also work as a mental health specialist providing behavioral services to children within their academic settings in the East Bay. Also, my partner and I have 3 dogs so a lot of my time is spent adventuring with them!

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I really enjoying the hiking! My favorite places are Redwood Regional Park (because it is so easy to get to from my house) but I also really enjoy Muir Woods, and Point Reyes. Also, since being in the Bay I have really enjoyed being near the ocean. I’ve been able to learn new activities like paddleboarding, and my dogs also love to visit the beach!

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? Currently, I have become very invested in watching the Handmaiden’s Tale on Hulu. I also watch a lot of documentaries, and I recently discovered a documentary series on Netflix called Tales by Light. This series follows photographers to places all of the world and also discusses the cultural and environmental significance of their work and subjects. As far as music one of my favorite bands, Dispatch, just released a new album. They are awesome because aside from being musicians they use their platform and music to discuss issues of social injustice.

Meet the Interns: Hey Abby!

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One of our favorite parts about our work here at WEA is that each year we get the opportunity to spend time with passionate, inspiring and hardworking people…like Abby! Every intern who joins the WEA family brings with them an incredible array of talents, fresh ideas, and a new perspective. Their dedicated time and effort make it so that our vision of supporting women leaders around the world can be brought to life.

We’re so lucky to welcome Abby, a rising senior at American University in Washington D.C., to our Programs + Operations team this summer!


Name: Abby Newbold
Hometown: San Francisco, California!

If you had a superpower, it would be (and why): To fly! Ironically, I am terrified of heights but my greatest dream is to skydive out of a plane. If I could fly, I could skydive all the time!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? WEA plays a key role in supporting women and the environment, and very few organizations seem to be at the crossroads of the two; this makes WEA an incredibly unique and exceptional organization. I wanted to expand my own dialogue and interest in the combination of women and environment, because I am already studying environmental policy. WEA was the perfect opportunity to help me gain experience in non-profit environmental organizations while committing my work to the larger purpose of uplifting women!

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. My heroes change frequently and the list is always growing, but the woman who has inspired me most recently (I just read her memoir Unbowed!) is Wangari Maathai. Her peaceful and righteous protest in the face of opposition, her positions in the Kenyan government, founding the Green Belt Movement are such inspirational achievements I can only dream of being half as amazing.

Why women and why the environment? Women are vital to our communities, and the world is always better when we support one another. To uplift women is to uplift the world. My goal in life is to help others, especially women, achieve full recognition and presence as leaders and equal figures in our communities. As the environment becomes the greatest challenge facing our world’s leaders, women have a key role to play in the safety and success of sustainable initiatives, both in and out of government.

What does your life outside WEA look like? Here in the Bay Area, I spend time with my family, listen to NPR podcasts, hang out with friends, and work at a bakery in the city on weekends!

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I love exploring new places to eat. There are so many great restaurants in both the city and across the bay, and I love trying new foods. Send any suggestions my way!

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? Currently reading SPQR by Mary Beard, watching Jane the Virgin (I haven’t finished Season 1 yet but I’m getting there!), and listening to Planet Money podcasts when I exercise. It’s a great distraction!

U.S. withdraws from Paris Accord, and the impact on women

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Yesterday, U.S. government officials announced their decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement endorsed by almost all countries in the world. This agreement expresses a unified commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change.

A key question we are asking at WEA: What will this mean for women?

It’s no secret that women are often the most devastatingly impacted by climate change and environmental degradation — and this likelihood increases for women who face compounded issues of poverty and other socioeconomic disadvantages. In 2009, the United Nations Population Fund explained this dynamic in its “State of the World Population” report:

“Women — particularly those in poor countries — will be affected differently than men. They are among the most vulnerable to climate change, partly because in many countries they make up the larger share of the agricultural work force and partly because they tend to have access to fewer income-earning opportunities. Women manage households and care for family members, which often limits their mobility and increases their vulnerability to sudden weather-related natural disasters. Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes. Girls drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks. This cycle of deprivation, poverty and inequality undermines the social capital needed to deal effectively with climate change.”

The Paris Climate Accord, while not legally binding, is a key step down the path of outlining a plan for the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the most significant driver of climate change. Specifically, participating nations pledged to reduce their emissions by different amounts and report back on their progress. Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. committed to a 26-28% decrease in emissions by 2025.

And while the Accord sadly lacks a full gendered lens and analysis, the preamble does call for increased equality and women’s empowerment as necessary to combatting climate change. As Cathy Russell, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, stated, ”improving the lives of women and girls is ‘mission critical’ for saving the planet.

WEA was built to address this “mission critical” piece of the puzzle. As a global community, we cannot comprehensively address our world’s most pressing issues — of food, land, water, energy and, yes, climate change — without centering the importance of women’s agency. Women are the backbone of the community — they are the family caretakers, the food and fuel providers, and those who most often go without so that their children don’t need to. They are best positioned with the solutions that will see us through these challenging times.

Are we troubled by our government’s recent decision and current view on climate change? Yes, deeply. As this article shares:

“Refusing to acknowledge climate change’s detrimental effects on the world also means a refusal to acknowledge the ways it puts the lives and livelihood of many women around the world at risk. Removing the U.S. from the international agreement to combat harmful emissions not only proves the environment isn’t a priority for the Trump administration, it proves women aren’t a priority, either.”

That’s why we believe it’s a moment to double down on investing in our world’s grassroots women leaders. We look to our partners, to the grassroots women leaders around the world whose work on the ground for their communities, the earth, and future generations never retreats. We cannot wait for our governments to follow through on pledges of gender equality and environmental commitment. More than ever, we need to counteract global warming, environmental injustice and nationalistic separatism with creative investments in bridge-building, grassroots movement-building, and women.

Here is a roundup of a few articles addressing the impact that the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord will have on women:

 

WEA and WISE’s Clean Cookstoves Training gets national coverage in Nigeria!

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

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This past April, WEA and WISE (Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment) kicked off a series of two training intensives as part of our joint WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Training in Kaduna, Nigeria. These trainings aimed not only to provide women in Nigeria with access to life-saving clean cookstoves, but also to equip them with the skills, tools, networks and resources they need to start and scale their own clean cookstove businesses, causing a ripple of clean energy impact throughout their communities.

Why is this so important? Because clean cookstoves saves lives. According to a study done by the World Health Organization, 98,000 Nigerians — mostly women — die annually as a result of smoke inhaled while cooking with firewood. If a woman cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for her family with a traditional cookstove, it is the equivalent to smoking 3 to 20 packets of cigarettes a day.

WEA Project Lead and Founder/Director of WISE, Olanike Olugboji, had a chance to talk to some media outlets at the close of the project’s second week-long training intensive at the end of May, and shared with them her own insights on the critical need for this work and women’s entrepreneurial and environmental leadership.

WEA and WISE’s Clean Cookstove Training participants

“This project, according to Olugboji, would help to curb deaths resulting from inhalation of smoke from firewood, which she puts at more than [98,000] death annually in the country. She explained that the second phase of the training, which would end on Friday, was designed to strengthen the women’s marketing strategy in promoting the use of clean cook stove…Similarly, a resource person, Ms. Happy Amos, described clean cook stove as “a social enterprise”, not only for its financial gains, but also for its social and environmental impact.” —  Nigeria News Network

We’re incredibly honored to be involved in this project, and are so inspired by the continued effort and commitment of the women who participated in the training and are now entrepreneurs in their communities!

We’ll be sharing updates with you as we hear back from training participants on the launch of their own businesses, but until then, here’s a roundup of articles that covered this groundbreaking training: