WEA not alone

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

Topics: , ,

Blog1
“As a young child, barefoot women and girls carrying heavy containers of water on their heads, walking long distances under the searing sun were a common sight. The reality of this stayed with me, and I knew I would do something about it someday.”

 

Meet Olanike Olugboji, a WEA founding mother, who participated in our first Women and Water Training in Kenya, and then returned to Nigeria with a clear vision and a strong network. Equipped with technical skills, entrepreneurship training, and seed funding, Olanike launched her own NGO called WISE, which today has trained over 3,000 women in clean energy, safe water technologies, and entrepreneurship. Her work has created refuge for Nigerian women, who risk rape or assault on the long walks to fetch water and firewood, as well as opportunity for women to create a livelihood and secure a future for their children.

After joining WEA as a regional coordinator, Olanike linked with women around the world, and today has a global reach. Olanike is a correspondent with World Pulse, a recipient of numerous international awards, and a participant in several prestigious leadership trainings. WEA is now collaborate with Olanike and her team at WISE to train women in promoting and selling clean cookstoves, linking up with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in Nigeria. (If a woman 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 120,000 Nigerian women die annually from inhalation of firewood smoke.) Olanike’s impact on the environment and on women’s well-being and livelihood has only just begun.

Together, we can build the leadership of women who will create a future of balance, health, and peace for our world.

Women Climate Warriors

Topics:

“I’ve got a 25-year-old son named Abe. I’ve got a 20-year-old daughter named Jessie. I would throw myself in front of a bus if it was coming at them. We all need to throw ourselves in front of this bus called climate change.”
— Mindy Lubber, one of Vogue’s 13 Climate Warriors

 

Have you seen the absolutely stunning piece VOGUE published just as COP21 was getting underway? The articleand the profoundly beautiful photographs by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin that accompanied itfeature 13 of the formidable women leading the way on climate action.

climate-change-portraits

Meet all 13 of these fierce women by checking out the full article here.

While we so deeply respect these women climate warriors and all they do, we also recognize that there are many more women living on the frontlines of climate change and taking action to protect their communities.  We are humbled and honored to support a number of these women and communities.

[In the News] The First Woman Of Women: How Melinda Gates Became The World’s Most Powerful Advocate For Women And Girls

Topics:

We’re loving this look at the life and work of Melinda Gates, co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a champion for the health and rights of women and girls.

feature-melinda-gates
Photo: Forbes

Melinda Gates has stepped up to use her voice and platform, as well as make those huge, critical investments. We are so inspired by the message this sends about the importance and global impact of investing in the leadership of women and girls.For the first decade and a half of its existence the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation deployed its remarkable scale toward eradicating polio and malaria, and experimentation in education issues. But over the past few years Melinda Gates has embraced having her name on the letterhead of the largest-ever charitable foundation, along with the influence that comes with that. She has become the most powerful person on the planet whose singular focus is women and girls…

“When you get women in roles of leadership, we make things happen,” Gates says. “It takes us using our voice, and it also takes us making investments, huge investments, in women and girls.”

It’s through women leaders like these, believing in the women leaders on the ground, that we can change the world.

Read the full article on Forbes.

Phionah: From Sex-Worker to Water Champion

Topics: , ,

By Gemma Bulos, Global Women’s Water Initiative Director

I have been a sex worker for so many years, but when I met Godliver (GWWI Head Technology Trainer), I have withdrawn. She trained me on tanks, now I can make bricks, I can make a tank… I think I can almost be a technical engineer!
Phionah Mbugua

Every once in a while you come upon someone who is truly the embodiment of transformation and inspiration. For our Global Women’s Water Initiative, Phionah Mbugua is that person.

Phionah came to GWWI through Life Bloom Services International. Life Bloom works with commercial sex workers providing them with emotional counseling and services as well as vocational training to consider alternative livelihoods to uplift themselves from their situation. Life Bloom women leaders have been participating in the Global Women’s Water Initiative Training Program since 2011, where they have been learning to  become water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) technicians, educators and entrepreneurs.

Phionah was one of Life Bloom’s clients. When her husband left her 14 years ago with 2 kids, she had to raise her children on her own. And with a 7th grade education, she felt her only alternative was to sell her body.  She was invited by Life Bloom to learn how to build a rainwater harvesting system and tank from GWWI Technology Trainer Godliver Businge. Phionah was astounded to meet a woman who not only could build things like tanks and toilets, but who was teaching other women these same skills.

Because of Phionah’s talent and interest, Life Bloom’s Executive Director who has been elected as the Board Chair of her local water board, withdrew from the GWWI training program to let Phionah take her place. Phionah has since been hired by Life Bloom as their first WASH program manager and is currently construction WASH technologies, offering WASH education in schools and in the community. And she’s getting getting paid to do this work.

In this video Phionah shares with her GWWI sisters and fellow participants her story of transformation. (Transcript below)
 

Hello. I think I’m one of the retired sex workers! I have been a sex worker for so many years, but when I met Godliver, I withdrew. She trained me on tanks, now I can make bricks, I can make a tank, I think I can almost be a technical engineer. Yea, with my fellow colleagues the sex workers,  we have done the first tank we did it in a primary school and we want to do the other tank in a primary school.

So my fellow sex workers, they are very happy because when you come from building the tank, in the evening, we are so tired, even we can’t be able to go to the streets! I appreciate Godliver for the change she has brought to us because we were selling our bodies day and night you see because we don’t have anything to do in our life. Like, we don’t have courses. Like me, I learned up to class 7.

So right now, I’m learning, I want to do my class 8 next year. I want to get my diploma certificate this year so I’m sure I’ll do it, because you have empowered me.  Now my children are appreciating me. They are appreciating my job, even my family. Because before I was a drunkard, I couldn’t even listen to them. But right now I’ve changed. Like now my mom yesterday was asking me

“Oh, where are you going?” and I told her,

“I’m going meet other women in Kisumu. I’ve never been to Kisumu.”

And right now, even me , I don’t even feel like selling my body.  I’m very fit now. I’m 45 years (old). I’m retired and I don’t want my young girls who are behind me to follow my steps. Right now I want to follow these steps – of building tanks. Building biosand. And I think for biosand I am qualified because the last three weeks, the mortar followed me so I think  I have one certificate.

So I thank you ladies. We are together. I’m from Life Bloom. And I think because I’m interested, that’s why my boss withdrawn for me, ‘you can go instead of me Phionah.’ Because I’m interesting, interested and I’m strong.  And I will do it. And right now I’m going for another tank. Thank you so much!

For more inspiring stories, follow GWWI on Twitter at @womenwater -or- @gemmabelle, and join us on facebook.com/womenwater.

Women leaders in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Project: Women Building a Water Movement in East Africa

Topics: , ,

8-women

In Africa and across the developing world, it is common for women and girls to spend up to six hours daily collecting water, time they could spend in school or working. The result is perpetuated cycles of gender inequality and poverty.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) combine as global crisis that leaves 768 million without clean water and 2.5 billion, over a third of the world’s population, without access to sanitation. Yet, within Africa alone, women are making a huge impact on these issues starting from their communities and reaching on up. Wash Advocates’ website highlights eight women across Africa who are making waves. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia has brought WASH to Liberia and is the Honorary President of Water and Sanitation for Africa. President Joyce Banda of Malawi, has created a national initiative on maternal health and clean places for expectant mothers to wait until delivery with clean water, sanitation and access to health care. Six other women, working in West Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria, are creating initiatives and organizations that are just as important.

To read more about these incredible women, read the full article here.