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Meet Binta: A Clean Cookstove Leader, Advocate, and Entrepreneur

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

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Binta Yahaya is a community mobilizer and environmental advocate from Lere, a rural town in Kaduna State, Nigeria. In her town, most women and girls cook over open fires, and many suffer chronic respiratory infections and other health problems from the toxic smoke. Few are aware that cooking with an open fire is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour in one’s kitchen, or that firewood smoke is the 3rd largest killer of women and children in Nigeria. Even Binta didn’t know what to do about the dangerous accumulation of dirty soot on her own traditional cookstove.

Then she participated in the 9-month 2017-2018 WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Training and learned of powerful alternatives. Within 1 week of entrepreneurship, leadership, and technical training, Binta sold 70 clean cookstoves to women in her village. She quickly watched this simple solution reduce sickness, medical bills, and daily fuel costs for these families.

Today, Binta is a clean cookstove entrepreneur, and as a trusted member of her community, people listen. She also launched a second business producing her own clean cookstove model and selling cooking fuel made from agricultural waste instead of charcoal. Every day she improves the lives of people (1,000 already have access to clean energy and improved health because of her), mentors more women entrepreneurs, and plays a part in Nigeria’s clean energy future. On the last day of the training she said, “You have already changed my life…if I had to pay for what I learned from you, I don’t think I could afford it. I have no words but to say thank you.”

Together, Binta and her cohort of clean cookstoves participants have reached over 13,000 people with clean cookstoves. According to Project Drawdown, if adoption grows to 16% by 2050, reductions in emissions will amount to 15.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide, with health benefits reaching millions of households.

Beyond the Violence on the Land, Violence on our Bodies report

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The Shedding Light on Environmental Violence Initiative shows us that what happens to the land, happens to our bodies. Chrissy Swain, a leader featured in our Violence on the Land, Violence on our Bodies report, shares her experience of mercury poisoning caused by pollution from a paper mill near the Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) First Nation reserve in this article. Thanks to our friends at International Indian Treaty Council for sharing this work and being leaders in transforming environmental violence into environmental justice.

For more on the Violence on the Land, Violence on our Bodies report and toolkit, and our work with Native Youth Sexual Health Network, visit landbodydefense.org.

Read the full article.

*Photo of Chrissy Swain by David Sone/Earthroots

Guatemala Women Standing Against Environmental Violence

Project: Shedding Light on Environmental Violence in North America

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Source: Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times
Source: Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

A woman in Lote Ocho, Guatemala are filing negligence claims (in Canada) against a Canadian mining company whose employees that forcibly removed a women from her home, raped her and then burned her home to the ground. She is joined in her suit by 10 other women from her village, who were also gang-raped on the same day.

However, she is filing her suit, Caal v. Hudbay Mineral Inc., in Canada, and there it is “sending shivers through the oil, gas and mining industry”. Of all the publicly listed mining and exploration companies in the world, more than half had headquarters in Canada in 2013.

Canadian companies, accounting for 50 percent to 70 percent of the mining in Latin America, were often associated with extensive damage to the environment, from erosion and sedimentation to groundwater and river contamination. Of particular note, it said, was that the industry “demonstrated a disregard for registered nature reserves and protected zones.”

You can read the entirety of the New York Times article here.

Why Women Have the Solutions to Climate Change

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india washing

According to Yannick Glemarec, deputy executive direct of United Nations Women, and mirroring what WEA has seen in our own work in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, “Women are the first to be affected by climate change in every single country in the world.” Furthermore, women in so-called developing countries are hit the hardest.

As primary caregivers, many women in poorer countries are responsible for trekking miles to collect water and fuel. When climate change depletes water, women notice first. Water is a climate change issue, and climate change is a women’s issue…

As climate change puts pressure on natural resources, fresh water is becoming scarcer, food prices are increasing, and infectious illnesses like the Zika virus are on the rise. Worldwide, women tend to be poorer than their male counterparts and have less representation in policymaking. All this means they are the first to be affected by climate change and the last to be heard on how to combat it.

But even as women are typically the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the ripple effect that causes (e.g. natural disasters, food and water scarcity, etc.), they are also the ones best positions to develop and implement solutions.

Read more about how this informs our work and what we do about it, and read the full article, “Why Fixing Climate Change is Women’s Work” over at Yes! Magazine.

 

A Glimpse at Women-Led Movements

Project: South Asia Small Grants Initiative

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Source: Rucha Chitnis, Yes! Magazine
Source: Rucha Chitnis, Yes! Magazine

Dayamani Barla, the Indian journalist who led an extraordinary movement in an effort to stop ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company from displacing thousands of indigenous people in Jharkhand. She discusses her views on development and explains them from an indigenous world-view:

“We want development, but not at our cost. We want development of our identity and our history. We want that every person should get equal education and healthy life. We want polluted rivers to be pollution free. We want wastelands to be turned green. We want that everyone should get pure air, water, and food. This is our model of development.”

In addition to Barla, there’s a group of Maasai women in Loliondo, Tanzania, who in 2013 braved threats and violence to prevent a “land grab” east of the Serengeti National Park. Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), fosters leadership and personal transformation in Latina immigrant women and promotes change for social and economic justice. After the Nepal earthquake in late spring of 2015, it became quickly evident just how crucial the leadership of women has been in rebuilding Nepal -from caring for the sick and injured, looking after children, growing food, to literally rebuilding the cities. You can read about these organizations and more, and the incredible women behind them, here.