What We Do
“In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.”
— Dr. Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
When Women Thrive, The Earth Thrives.
WEA has trained over 5,000 women leaders. They, in turn, have reached 6 million people. That’s the WEA Effect.
In some of the most environmentally threatened regions, WEA leaders are closing dirty energy plants and forwarding clean energy projects, advocating for water, land, and air protection policies, preserving indigenous seeds and cultures, launching regenerative agriculture projects that sustain our communities, drawing down carbon through forest and coral reef conservation, and removing toxins from our environment and our bodies.
Our Vision and Mission
Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) envisions a world in which women are empowered, communities thrive, and the Earth regenerates.
Our mission is to catalyze women-led, grassroots solutions to protect our environment. WEA’s signature Accelerator model provides leadership, strategy, and technical training for women leaders to scale their climate and environmental initiatives while connecting them to a global alliance of peers, mentors, and funders.
How we do this
WEA’s Accelerator model is designed to exponentially advance women leader’s critical solutions to influence global environmental and climate goals. WEA’s model was honed over 15 years to be inclusive, non-extractive, and culturally relevant. WEA utilizes human-centered design to customize each Accelerator’s curriculum to be regionally responsive.
WEA Accelerators are one-year training programs for 25-35 proven women leaders who are poised to grow their initiatives, organizations and movements. Participants are identified in partnership with a global coalition of leading organizations serving women and girls with the goal of drawing the most talented and often under-represented women into our program.
WEA has a distributed network model whereby regional programs are guided by longtime WEA Alliance Leaders who draw from their lived experiences and dedicated activism to shape WEA’s regional priorities. Where possible, WEA Alliance Leaders collaborate across regions to create long-lasting impact, bridge strategies, and reciprocate learning and support. WEA’s leadership model is largely decentralized with a small U.S.-based team that coordinates communications, operations, fundraising, and programmatic direction. Since its founding, WEA has practiced and iterated a shared leadership structure, whereby authority, responsibility, and accountability is distributed across our organization, unleashing a unique creativity and diversity of approaches.
WEA is fiscally-sponsored by Earth Island Institute, placing us in a collective of mission-aligned organizations that share knowledge and build strength in community, rather than compete for funding. WEA’s Leadership Board provides overarching insights on our direction and evolution.
WEA's Accelerator model
The WEA Accelerator generates measurable and sustained improvements to our environment, economies, and communities by strengthening and unifying women’s climate initiatives. Drawing on our time-tested curricula, WEA, along with core partners curate interdisciplinary training programs for cohorts of women leaders and their organizations to work together in growing, replicating, and scaling environmental and climate solutions.
Accelerator Cohorts consist of 30-50 women leaders who are identified from the WEA network as well as from the outreach and nominations of our Organization Partners. Leaders are carefully selected by our design team of advisors and past participants, ensuring a diversity of representation in terms of issue area, geography, cultural/ethnic background, and strategic approaches.
Through a blended learning curriculum of virtual and in-person programming, participants receive the up-leveling they need to improve on and scale their existing environmental and climate initiatives that meet the urgent needs of their regions as well as impact global sustainability goals. Each team receives support, tools, and mentorship to develop actionable climate and environmental strategies for their regions. They also gain new skills, visibility, resources, and momentum for their critical work. Although there are regional and sector-specific small groups within the cohort, participants gain considerably by exchanging and linking strategies with their counterparts. Throughout all of WEA’s current programs, participants are supported to pivot or position their initiatives to respond directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Human-Centered Design Phase: WEA builds a Design Team composed of leadership from 3-5 Core Organizational Partners with women, climate, gender, and/or social justice expertise. The Design Team identifies shared climate and environmental commitments, explores regional alignment and priorities, aligns on the profile and selection process of our participants, and unearths key inter-organizational and grassroots movement-building opportunities. Utilizing metrics such as the SDGs, the Design Team builds regional and sector-specific strategies for the selection of a diverse cohort of 30-50 women leaders from critical countries, sectors, and thematic areas. Based on the Design Team’s formative research, community mapping, political analysis, and participant-driven interviews, we customize the Accelerator with curriculum offerings from WEA and Core Partners. Participating organizations also identify experts to engage as mentors, trainers, coaches, and advisors.
Accelerator Implementation Phase: The cohort participates in a four-month interactive curriculum. The Accelerator curriculum is a collaborative, hands-on, non-extractive program that includes webinars, group video calls, sector-specific working groups, mentorship, and a 2-day virtual or in-person “Collaboratory,” focused on peer learning and sharing of working models.
- Climate resiliency planning
- Alliance, coalition, and movement building
- Designing and amplifying an environmental policy platform
- Self and community care and resiliency
- Advocacy, policy, and campaigning skills
- Communication and advocacy strategies
- Building a revenue stream, pitching, and fundraising for long-term sustainability
- Impact measurement, evaluation, and learning
Participants are equipped with/have access to:
- Skills in professional development, leadership, entrepreneurship, advocacy, communications, and technical solutions from global facilitators, regional experts, and cohort peers
- A comprehensive Action Plan to strengthen their climate/environmental initiative including an impact framework and metrics, implementation strategy, timeline, and budget
- Professionally produced media assets
- Skill and knowledge exchange within Working Groups (e.g., water and sanitation, regenerative agriculture, land/resource rights, clean energy, etc.)
- Ongoing one-on-one expert and peer mentorship
- Scaling Funds to grow their urgently needed, high-impact climate initiatives or policy platforms
- WEA Alumni, sharing resources, networks, and a repository of best practices
- Guidance in pivoting/positioning their work to respond to COVID-19
Ongoing Global Alliance Support: Participants are then supported to implement their Action Plans -- activating revenue creation, fundraising strategies, and policies for the long-term sustainability of their initiatives.
Participants have access to:
- WEA Team members who connect them to resources and contacts
- Mentorship for technical development, e.g., budgets, legal/business partnerships, MEL, etc.
- Leadership opportunities within WEA’s existing global programming, such as speaking programs, alumni mentorship opportunities etc.
- Access to WEA Alumni, where they can share resources, networks, and access a repository of best practices
- Templates and curricula to apply in their local context
- Professional development opportunities to serve as ambassadors, coaches, and trainers
Measurement, Evaluation, & Learning: A comprehensive measurement plan is integrated including a baseline, endline, and 9 months post-accelerator to track key impact indicators and adapt curricula as needed. MEL includes in-depth interviews (IDI’s) as well as measuring project impact against global development indicators like the SDGs. We also measure changes in knowledge, attitude, behaviors (KAB)s and success with project implementation. Following graduation, Working Groups hold each other accountable to project benchmarks, troubleshoot challenges, and share new opportunities.
Why the need
It is globally recognized that women’s leadership is key to just environmental policies and the adoption of climate resiliency strategies. Yet, the women who stand up to prevent environmental destruction and injustice face an uphill battle. Women’s leadership is chronically and globally undervalued, their health threatened, their work under-resourced, and their vision stymied. Structural inequities rob women leaders of their full potential to shape the future of our planet, communities, and our values.
Globally, women and girls are the most adversely and disproportionately impacted by climate change, health crises, and environmental destruction. From these frontlines, women leaders in our Alliance step forward with solutions grounded in their lived experience. Evidence consistently shows that an investment in women is the most effective environmental and social welfare investment society can make. Despite this recognition, structural inequities rob women of their full potential to shape the future on our planet, our communities, and our values.
The “WEA Effect”
Regardless of the unique conditions in each region, the efforts of WEA participants lead to a consistent set of cascading benefits that we call the “WEA Effect”: women are empowered, children are safer, communities are healthier, natural resources regenerate, local economies prosper, regions stabilize, and real transformation takes root.