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It’s time to celebrate! Four years ago today the Global Women’s Water Initiative welcomed 50 grassroots women leaders from all over Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States to launch our first Women and Water Training in Nairobi, Kenya. We gathered together at the Green Belt Movement Training Center hosted by GROOTS Kenya to share stories of the challenges and inequities that women and girls face due to lack of water and sanitation and to learn how to transform those burdens into opportunities. We were so honored to have the late Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate join us to offer an inspiring closing speech that motivated all the participants to step into their leadership and see water as a pathway for opportunity! This gathering of powerful women was the first ripple in what has become an exciting wave of action bringing clean water solutions to under-served communities in Africa.

Halima helping build a water tank

Halima helping build a water tank

It all began with a shared vision from three organizations – A Single Drop, Crabgrass, and Women’s Earth Alliance.  These three groups came together to respond to the opportunities lost for women and girls when they have to spend all day fetching water – like not being able work or go to school. They were committed to find a way to provide holistic support to grassroots women so they could bring sustainable water solutions to their families and communities. This dynamic collaboration merged Crabgrass’s background in human rights and hosting Women and Water Conferences in South Asia; A Single Drop’s experience integrating social entrepreneurship into her award-winning sustainable water programs in the Philippines; and Women’s Earth Alliance’s capacity to link women working on the frontlines of climate change to much needed resources to have deeper and lasting impact.

Mildred teaching women how to build a rainwater catchment out of stone and cement.

Mildred teaching women how to build a
rainwater catchment out of stone and cement.

Today GWWI celebrates the over 100 women who have graduated from our training programs. These courageous women have challenged gender stereotypes by picking up a shovel and trowel and building water technologies. Some have been able to earn income from their professional water services or selling water. Others have traveled to other countries to offer water, sanitation and hygiene education to large international health organizations. A few have been invited to be part of high level water committees and boards to influence policy. And collectively, they have been able to provide clean water and sanitation to over 15,000 people!  Brava!

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