Stories from the Grassroots: The Greengrants Blog

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    My women and climate “aha” moment

    Mar 23, 2015 | No Comments

    By Trish Tierney, a member of the Global Giving Network steering committee


    A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to a Fast Company article titled “The Unique Challenges of Being a Middle-Aged Woman Entrepreneur.” It took me several long minutes to realize that she was sending it to me because I am one of those. I’ll gladly claim the entrepreneur part; it was the ‘middle-aged’ label that I did not immediately identify with, even though it is accurate.

    There are, clearly, downsides to aging (why do people keep calling me ma’am?!). However, there is also much beauty in this stage of life, reflectiveness and a respect for history that is hard to come by in your youth.

    Especially as I’m in the midst of launching my own women’s organization, WAKE, I find myself seeking inspiration, learning, and collaboration with the incredible women, and men, who have come before, laid the groundwork, and achieved so much. The team at Global Greengrants Fund falls squarely in that category.

    Let me tell you about an event I participated in that was co-hosted by Global Greengrants and the International Network of Women’s Funds. It was both a celebration of climate justice and women’s rights, as well as a call to action to direct critical resources to the intersection of these two issues. I found the panel informal, interactive, and inspiring.

    That evening, the speakers made the case that women’s rights and climate change are intertwined. They encouraged donors and activists to see climate change interventions as a critical entry point for promoting women’s equality in terms of land rights, economic and cultural rights, access to decision-making processes, and political participation.

    Women in Nepal. Photo: russavia DFID / CC BY 2.0

    Women in Nepal. Photo: russavia DFID / CC BY 2.0

    I have spent most of my career dedicated to international development, particularly women’s education and leadership. However, I have always thought of the environment as a separate issue, albeit an important one, and one on which I want to educate myself and get involved in supporting. Slowly but surely, Global Greengrants has helped me see that these issues—women’s empowerment and the environment—are not separate but integrally linked.

    Once stated, this seems so simple and clear. And yet, so often programs, activities, and resources are designed and allocated along distinct lines.

    There is a strong case for integration; at the Global Greengrants’ event, I learned some startling facts:

    Did you know that women and kids are 14 times more likely to die in climate disasters than men? Or that 40 percent of women human rights defenders attacked in Mesoamerica are defending their natural resources?

    I applaud Global Greengrants for leading the way and encouraging collaboration for the greater good of both climate change and women’s rights. The organization has a special knack for zeroing in on critical issues, identifying and communicating sensible and straightforward solutions, and then challenging the rest of us to join them.

    During the evening’s panel discussion, I stood behind a lively, fun-loving group of women who had participated in a human rights conference that day. They actively listened and contributed to the conversation, linking arms and leaning on each other in a sense of camaraderie.

    Then, first one, then another, and soon a whole cluster of them sat down on the floor. Don’t get me wrong, the hotel reception room was nice and the event well-done. But there were no chairs, and these women had had a long day. They simply decided it was time to sit down. They could listen and participate just as well from the floor, and soon many others were laughing and joining them.

    I have found myself at many such events enjoying conversations and simultaneously dreaming of a place to rest. Honestly, though, I never, ever thought of just sitting down.

    That night, right in front of me, there was this fabulous group of women just plunked down on the carpet. I loved it, the honesty and simplicity of it. These women, and their actions, seemed wonderfully, beautifully representative of what Global Greengrants was saying about climate justice and women’s rights.

    They appeared to me totally dedicated, focused, serious yet fun-loving, brave and to-the-point. These women are dedicating their work and their energies to protecting our Earth, preserving and saving their communities, and taking small, brave steps that can lead to great, collective action. By doing so doing, they are changing the way we think and act.

    I urge you to read Climate Justice and Women’s Rights and take at least one bold and brave action to support women and the ground on which we all sit.

    Trish Tierney, Co-Founder of WAKE and a member of the Global Giving Network

    Trish TierneyTrish is the Co-Founder of WAKE, the Women’s Alliance for Knowledge Exchange. She is the former Executive Director of the Institute of International Education, where she directed the Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives. Prior to joining EII, she was Program Manager at Cisco Systems, Inc., on a team that established the Cisco Networking Academy Program in 50 of the world’s least developed countries, with an emphasis on gender inclusion. She was a Program Manager at the World Bank and a volunteer teacher in Namibia with WorldTeach, and holds a B.A. in English Literature and Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and an M.A. from Johns’ Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

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      Restoring fresh water and people’s health in Micronesia

      Jan 28, 2015 | No Comments

      A thick blanket of rainforest covers the Micronesian island of Pohnpei. Waterfalls pour over black basalt mountains. Though rivers seem plentiful, waterborne diseases have plagued people in the village of Kepirohi in southern Pohnpei.
      The problems started in the 1960s,… Read more

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        A victory for Miskito stewards of the forest

        Jan 16, 2015 | No Comments

        The indigenous Miskito people live amongst lush rainforests along the Caribbean Coast in Honduras. After a 40-year struggle, they won title to their ancestral land in 2013.

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          Shell oil to pay $84M for pollution in the Niger Delta

          Jan 8, 2015 | No Comments

          Shell has agreed to pay $84 million for two oil spills in the Niger Delta community of Bodo. A step in the right direction or a paltry sum in comparison with the devastation big oil is wreaking? It’s both.

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            Maasai land grab is back on as Tanzania’s government renegs

            Dec 2, 2014 | No Comments

            UPDATE: Last October, Maasai people—including a Greengrant recipient—in Tanzania won an important victory when the government abandoned plans to kick them off their land. Now it looks like the land grab is back on.

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              Saving the Leuser Ecosystem for orangutans, elephants, and people

              Nov 24, 2014 | No Comments

              Rudi Putra is standing up to palm oil interests illegally poaching one of the most incredible forests on Earth.

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                Indigenous young people bring hope to their Siberian town

                Oct 29, 2014 | One Comment

                When we heard that a group of young people in Siberia has already achieved something they never imagined possible thanks to a Greengrant we gave just two months ago, it made us downright giddy. Read their amazing story.

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                  How U.S. media is bungling the ebola crisis

                  Oct 23, 2014 | No Comments

                  On a recent trip to Mali, Deputy Director of Programs, Allison Davis, noticed that local TV stations focused on the human tragedy of ebola—not on the fear it is causing. One would think we might do more of the same in the United States—balance our worry with more heartfelt concern for the thousands so dramatically affected. Keep reading >>

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                    To the Green Climate Fund: “Grassroots women need more resources”

                    Oct 17, 2014 | No Comments

                    The co-hosts of the Summit on Women and Climate call on the Green Climate Fund to take action and extend support to women-led solutions to climate change in advance of COP 21.

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                      A climate defense that actually works

                      Sep 23, 2014 | No Comments

                      I am writing this note from New York. I wish you could be here to feel the charge of energy. An estimated 400,000 people flooded the streets on Sunday morning to demand bold action on the climate crisis. Here’s how I believe we should deal with climate change.

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