Written by Kristen Grauer, Development ManagerGreen Empowerment is a small organization run predominately by women. In Portland and abroad we educate and empower female leaders in sustainability – from engineers to water committee presidents to health and sanitation promoters. Our projects give women around the world a platform to share their stories and a pathway to grow into new leadership roles. Today, we are International Women’s Day and the women who weave our projects into the very fabric of their communities.
Meet Norma from El Jazmin, Nicaragua. Norma is the community-elected president of her local water committee. She manages committee volunteers, water system operation and maintenance, payment collection, watershed conservation activities and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training. She is fearless and always willing to try something new for the betterment of her community – like bee-keeping. She recently participated in an apiculture training we conducted with Vibrant Village Foundation as a way for community members to generate additional income.
Meet the women of Huarina, Bolivia. We traveled to Huarina last fall with Soluciones Prácticas / Practical Action to advise on the community’s improved cook stove and solar cooker projects. Upon arrival, we were overwhelmed by smiles and embraces from the women of the community. They invited us to join them for a meal cooked on their new stoves. They placed a plastic tarp on the ground and revealed warm potatoes, yucca and plantains skillfully tucked away in their aymaras, a woven blanket typically used to carry things on their backs. In Bolivia and across Latin America, food means love, something these women endlessly give. We are inspired by their kindness and commitment to providing for their families, friends and neighbors.
Meet Isabel from Huayobamba in Cospan, Cajamarca, Peru. Isabel is a project promoter who was trained on how to buy, install, sell and educate community members on improved cook stoves and solar lanterns. The cook stoves she promotes reduce smoke inhalation in households and decrease wood usage. The lanterns, equipped with USB inputs for phone charging, keep communities connected and light the way during early morning walks to their farmland. Isabel takes great care in her work, checking equipment thoroughly for both quality and function. When we visited her last fall, we were inspired by her attention to detail, commitment to making her community and surrounding communities stronger and ability to lead with laughter.