Water Tanks Sustain, Empower Women

Project: Safe Water Solutions for Sub-Saharan African Women

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Source: Al Jazeera
Source: Al Jazeera

At a training with the Global Women’s Water Initiative in East Africa, in 2011, 175 Women received training on how to build new water tanks for their communities, and how to tackle water, hygiene and sanitation issues in their neighborhoods. Prior to the tanks, women sustained injuries from carrying extremely heavy water loads over long distances, and were vulnerable to assault on their journey. Now, thanks to the tanks, the amount of time spent fetching water has been reduced from an hour to less than 10 minutes. Nearly three-quarters of the trainees have since become masons trainers and social entrepreneurs, increasing their income and empowering themselves.

To me water is life. Once you have water in the house then other things are solved. The time used to get water is reduced. The reduced time is translated into other development activities. These development activities within the community entirely changes the country … So empowering a woman to me is changing economies. It’s giving power.
-Rose Atieno, social worker and trainee

You can read the full article here.

How Climate Change Impacts Women the Most

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Photo by: Rucha Chitnis
Photo by: Rucha Chitnis

Read more about the differentiated impacts of climate change, and how the UN hopes to address this with it’s Sustainable Development Goals in this great article from VICE News.

“Climate change directly impacts the ability of women to achieve their own human rights and increases gender inequalities,” Eleanor Blomstrom, program director for the Women’s Environment and Development Organization, told VICE News.

Despite the greater threat to women, their needs are often neglected in sustainability planning, said Nisha Onta, a gender and climate change expert with the women’s rights organization WOCAN. Under UN climate change guidelines, for example, developing countries are expected to submit plans for how they will adapt to a changing climate. But those plans are often made without incorporating plans for addressing gender inequality, like the fact that a lower-class woman in Bangladesh might not be allowed to use a new water pump, which is seen a important tool for managing changing precipitation patterns.

“The needs and reality of women are lacking and the work of women is kind of taken as a given,” Onta told VICE News. “[Developers say,] ‘We will go in and we will have water, we will make water accessible.’ How are you going to do that? Women are going to collect this water. Have they been consulted? Do they have time?”

Read more about the differentiated impacts of climate change, and how the UN hopes to address this with it’s Sustainable Development Goals in this great article from VICE News.

NASA Sheds New Light on India’s Water Crisis

Project: Together for H2OPE

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Source: Tribune India
Source: Tribune India

A recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) report says that the groundwater throughout India has been disappearing, owing to the rate that water is being pumped out and consumed, which is faster than aquifers can be replenished through rainwater. The report also says that Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, all farming states in the northern region, are especially at risk because of the increasing economic development, a booming population and the dependency on lots of water for irrigation.

The twin satellites of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) can sense minute changes in the earth’s gravity field and associated mass distribution, including water masses stored above or below the earth’s surface. As the satellites orbit 300 miles above the earth’s surface, their positions change in response to the variations in the gravity pull.

138 blocks, or areas of the northern state of Jolandhar, were put under observation for groundwater exploitation. 105 were found to be over-exploited, leaving only 26 in the “safe” category.

You can read the full article here.

 

Everything Connnected to the Land is Connected to our Bodies

Project: Shedding Light on Environmental Violence in North America

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The links between land and body have never been more apparent than in recent years, with extractive industries drilling, mining and fracking lands on or near traditional Indigenous territories, providing economic benefits to transnational corporations and national economies at a cost impacted communities are still grappling to understand. A cost most deeply felt by Indigenous women and young people.

This is why WEA is currently working in partnership with Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) to explore this critical intersection and ways to support the leadership of young Indigenous women who are resisting environmental violence in their communities.

To learn more about this work, please visit our website.

This beautiful piece was done by WEA Intern, Katie Douglas, for WEA’s initiative on environmental violence.

 

Violence_on_Our_Earth

 

From the artist: Each day that I spend interning at WEA teaches me more on the intersectionality that binds women’s rights, indigenous communities, and the environment. While the natural symmetry of these three elements is beautiful, the reality of their existence in our world is often one of destruction and injustice. As the greed of industry spreads, it is impossible not to see the direct correlation between detrimental environmental practices and their impacts on women with regard to health, culture, and actions of violence. From this, I was inspired to create an image that could begin to express humanity’s violation of the Earth as a parallel to humanity’s violation of the women’s bodies.

The open copper pit mine of the her belly shows that humanity is not only extracting Earth’s resources, but also that by plundering straight from her womb we are destroying any chance of future life. An oil well symbolizes the pollution that degrades the environment of so many native communities, while the flag is a symbol of the widespread domination of the Earth, indigenous peoples and women. Deforestation and waste are represented by the stump and can, and placed on her breasts to show our extreme dependence on these non-renewable resources. Despite the bleak outlook of the image, the ball of light in her hand represents my feeling of hope. Because if WEA has taught me anything, it is to trust to in the immense and impenetrable power that women hold in our hands to change this world for the better.

A Mother’s Day Call to Protect the Earth

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This Sunday is the day of the mother, the day we honor the source of life. As we give thanks for our very existence, for all the nurturing and resources our mothers provide for us so that we may grow and thrive, we also celebrate our shared mother—the Earth itself. Without her flowing waters, warm sun, rich soil and fresh air, even our most advanced technologies wouldn’t be able to sustain our collective life here. 

It feels like just yesterday that WEA’s Co-Directors, Melinda and Amira, were both becoming new mothers—and then mothers once more! But today, they each have two sons, all under the age of three, and it’s taken us just a moment to realize how quickly time has flown. 

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The women of RENAMITT. Photo by: Semillas, a partner of WEA

At its heart, our work here at WEA has always been about nurturing women at the grassrootshonoring and uplifting the work of women and community caregivers around the world who are mothering children and mothering movements. We do this because we recognize the undeniable connection between our experiences as women—as mothers—and the experiences of our first mother, our shared planet earth. 

Last week, WEA had the oppotunity to attend the Indigenous Birthways convening at  BirthKeepers Summit here in Berkeley, CA. There, we heard Mohawk elder and midwife, Katsi Cook, speak about these links, and her wisdom is reflected in her written work. “Women are the first environment,” she teaches. “We are privileged to be the doorway to life. At the breast of women, the generations are nourished and sustained. From the bodies of women flow the relationship of these generations both to society and to the natural world. In this way is the earth our mother, the old people said. In this way, we as women are the earth.” 

Our grassroots partners around the world remind us of the truth in these words. In India, the traditional knowledge women hold of seed saving, home gardens and climate adaptation help rural communities usher in locally-centered and sustainable futures. And in North America, young indigenous women leaders resisting environmental violence bear witness to the simple truth that everything connected to the land is connected to our bodies. 

These fierce women are birthing transformation, not only in their communities, but in the world. WEA is committed to standing alongside these leaders as they do the essential work of safeguarding our environment and generations to come. 

This Mother’s Day, please consider making a tax-deductible gift in honor of Mother Earth and the amazing mothers in your world. Your contribution will help us to continue supporting grassroots women today who are stepping forward to demand clean water and healthy food, protect sacred lands and traditional knowledge, resist dirty energy that harms our lands and bodies, and design sustainable solutions.

Most of all, we invite you to take a moment today to stand on the earth, give thanks for all that she provides, and make a commitment to protect her, for the sake of future generations and all life.

We wish you a peaceful Mother’s Day.