As the #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway comes to a close, we’d like to thank everyone who joined us this year to ensure that the brave women entrepreneurs taking part in our WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project in Nigeria have what they need as they safeguard their health, and their families’ and communities’ health. Every $15 given will cover the cost of a clean cookstove for one of these women leaders, helping to combat the life-threatening reality of smoke inhalation from firewood-burning cookstoves. Additionally, with her clean cookstove and the training she will receive through this project, each woman will have the tools she needs to launch her own sustainable clean energy business and provide practical and affordable renewable energy solutions for countless other women and families.
A recent article in Ecopreneurist described how “decentralized sustainable energy technologies…are the cheapest solutions for energy access” and emphasized that these initiatives “cannot only be designed by and for men and male entrepreneurs in developing countries*. Women entrepreneurs in developing countries need to be welcomed into the cultural and financial systems, structures, and institutions that promote sustainable energy initiatives.”
As the article explains, “[W]omen are typically the primary household energy managers. They also have more interpersonal interactions with other members of their communities than do men. Women entrepreneurs have comparative advantage over male entrepreneurs in acquiring and serving female customers,” and yet, they face severe structural barriers to success in many countries.
These barriers include challenges in accessing and developing entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy, financial management and technical skills, lack of access to justice, risk of violence that limits their personal movement and occupational choices, restrictive gendered norms, and lack of ownership and control of land (often a pre-condition for access to finances).
The article goes on to offer solutions to these barriers—ones that promote women’s leadership and entrepreneurship, gender equality, and bring us closer to realizing the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets that aim to end poverty, combat inequalities, and promote prosperity while protecting the environment by 2030. One of the primary solutions recommended, and which the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project—and the #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway—brings to life, is the need to improve women’s access to technical education, training and information. The project does this through training women entrepreneurs to 1) build and scale clean cookstove businesses, 2) train their families and communities to adopt cookstoves, and 3) form networks to advocate for clean energy at the local and national levels in a region severely impacted by climate change, deforestation, and poverty, where high percentages of women are sick and die from smoke inhalation from traditional open stoves.
Through this work, these local women entrepreneurs will reach 13,000 more people in Kaduna State, Nigeria, empowering fellow women leaders in their communities, and breaking the structural barriers which limit the success of renewable energy initiatives around the world.
Read the full article on the Ecopreneurist here, and learn more about the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project here.
*WEA acknowledges the challenges of using terms such as “developing countries.” While we try to be specific in naming the countries we are referring to as an alternative, this hasn’t always been the case in our language, particularly in instances when we quote other sources. As we move forward, we will continue to do our best to be respectful in our phrasing. We’ll mess up sometimes and we hope you’ll (gently, kindly) let us know.
Throughout the #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway, we’ve been sharing stories and raising awareness about our Nigeria Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project, and the opportunity to donate $15 to cover the cost of a cookstove for a woman to launch her own clean energy business. In partnership with Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE), we’re excited to be launching this project and ensuring that families in Kaduna State, Nigeria have the chance to breathe healthier air, reduce deforestation, increase household savings, improve health and safety, and transform their sense of personal and community empowerment.
This World Food Day, it’s crucial that we recognize that healthy communities depend not only on healthy food, but on healthy cooking. If a woman in Nigeria cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner over a wood fire, she suffers the equivalent of smoking between 3 and 20 packets of cigarettes a day. Over 93,000 Nigerians (mostly women and children) die annually from inhalation of firewood smoke from indoor cooking (not to mention the deforestation that is destroying regions and increasing climate instability). This project will train women leaders in Nigeria to promote and sell clean cookstoves, reducing these threats overall. In our #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway, we invite people to donate $15 to cover the cost of one cookstove for a family.
But it doesn’t stop there.
WEA and WISE are committed to ensuring that families in Kaduna State have access to clean cookstoves not only during this one year project, but for years to come. That’s why our model is designed to scale and sustain access to clean cookstoves and community awareness beyond the life of the project.
In order to achieve this, 30 women will participate in a three-part training, including leadership, entrepreneurship, and clean cookstove technology. The women will participate in the trainings in 15 pairs and will be selected through an application process starting in the next two weeks that will conclude at the end of November. Graduates of the trainings will receive grants to start their clean cookstove businesses. This is where your $15 contributions come in! Each donation of $15 covers the cost of one cookstove. Grants of $500 for each team are designed to cover the cost of entrepreneurs’ first 20 cookstoves, as well as transportation, marketing, and demonstration events. Furthermore, WEA and WISE will also support the entrepreneur pairs to link to micro-finance institutions. Within the year, each entrepreneur pair is expected to reach approximately 90 families with clean cookstoves—including training families on how to use and maintain them—thereby reaching a total of 13,000 people within one year.
In order for women and their families to adopt clean cookstoves, it’s critical that they understand the life-threatening importance of replacing traditional cookstoves, and see positive changes in their own communities. Through participation in community trainings, public demonstrations, networking events, and advocacy campaigns, women will increase their capacity and confidence to be social, ecological, and economic leaders in their families and communities for adoption of clean, safe cookstoves.
Let’s do this!
Join the #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway here, and support women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Your $15 will cover the cost of one clean cookstove, and will enter you to win fabulous prizes from some of our favorite sustainable brands.
Here at WEA, we’re extremely lucky that we get a chance to work with an incredible team of intelligent, inspirational interns. Fall is a busy time for us, and our team of rockstars helps us to stop cool, calm and creative! We’d love to introduce you to one of our awesome Programs + Operations Interns this fall — meet Katelynn!
Name: Katelynn Mudgett Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina If she had a superpower, it would be (and why): I’d love to be able to fly. I enjoy hiking and when I get a really beautiful view of the mountains and surrounding area from high up, that’s when I wish I could fly over and in between them. Plus, whether it’s from a plane window or the ground, I always I could touch the clouds. Now that I think of it, it’d also be a fun environmentally friendly way to get around (I wouldn’t be using fossil fuels to get around, though there is still the concern about air pollution from other sources).
Why did you want to intern with WEA? WEA, for one, combines my two favorite passions which are environmental and women’s issues which I previously didn’t think intersected or that such an organization worked on that intersection. In college, I majored in Sustainable Development. I had thought about minoring in Women’s Studies, but decided that I didn’t need to take more classes than I needed to and again, wasn’t aware of the intersection. After discovering that connection called ecofeminism, I still wasn’t sure about having a minor since I didn’t think an organization like that existed. After typing key terms like women and earth into Facebook, to my surprise and delight, WEA was an organization that came up. That finally sealed the deal for me to minor in Women’s Studies. I, of course, kept an eye on WEA for any potential future work opportunities and the planets and stars finally aligned for me to be a part of this great organization that works to help women empower themselves.
Tell us about a woman who inspires you. Vandana Shiva. Through her various articles, papers, and books like Ecofeminism or Soil Not Oil that I read on my own and in my Women’s Studies classes, she helped show me how women and the environment connected, and explained in a no-nonsense approach about the problems of capitalism, the fossil fuel industry, monoculture, and so on. Plus, she works hard to help people fight these issues like with the Navdanya Organization that unites farmers for biodiversity of seeds, how to organically farm, and so on. In November 2014, I was actually able to see to her speak in person and get a picture with her when she gave a talk at Wake Forest University which was so exciting for me.
Why women and why the environment? Separately, environmental and women’s issues are interesting enough, but together, they’re even more so. Of course, everything is connected in one way or another even if you wouldn’t think so, but it’s so fascinating and important to actively and consciously work with these intersecting parts to truly have a positive, lasting impact and actually dismantles oppressive systems to build a better, inclusive world for everyone.
What does your life outside WEA look like? I hike, read, watch movies and t.v., ice skate, roller skate, check my social media, read some more, recycle, stay up late and sleep late when I can, find out how I can do more than just recycle to help save the environment, donate blood every eight weeks, and volunteer at places like Pets Lifeline of Sonoma Valley.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? Read in the shade, hike on all the beautiful trails and parks (there are so many!!).
What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I’m reading the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas and currently am on the fourth book, Queen of Shadows. I’m currently listening to various podcasts such as Stuff Mom Never Told You and Stuff You Missed in History Class. Currently watching various shows such as Adam Ruins Everything on truTV, Queen Sugar on OWN, and Chesapeake Shores on Hallmark Channel. What movie I’m watching changes on a daily basis.
According to a recent article from National Geographic discussing the Paris Agreement and its impact on climate change, the international negotiations left a few gaps in place, and if not addressed, these shortcomings may have even more wide-reaching implications for global warming.
The article states that, “Among these key gaps are gender-responsiveness and attention to land rights. Better securing women’s land rights is a critical and largely ignored step toward climate change action and broader sustainable development.” This is something we have seen in much of our work, particularly through our partnership with Semillas — the only women’s fund in Mexico — which supports land rights for Indigenous women in five Mexican states.
Securing women’s rights to land is one approach that can offer a range of benefits tied to both climate change and socio-economic development. This approach can be particularly effective in developing countries, whose rural populations tend to depend on land, forests, and agriculture for their livelihoods, where women make up the majority of agricultural labor, and where women’s land rights are the most insecure. Since the agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) sector produces roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, the confluence of land, women and sustainable development—and how nations manage that confluence—has critical implications for climate change.
Research suggests that secure land tenure leads to a greater sense of ownership over land, better prevention of soil erosion, and increased likelihood of afforestation (tree planting) which is an important method of creating emissions-mitigating carbon sinks, and which can also provide immediate benefits to rural women who depend on ecosystem health to continue successfully farming, gathering firewood, and accessing potable water.
Taking a gender-responsive, land rights-based approach to climate change action—particularly with respect to AFOLU— can help a nation to fulfill its commitments to the UNFCCC, while at the same time fulfilling its commitments to the women and other vulnerable populations that so many INDCs specifically pledge to protect.