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Hands Over: Sustainable, Community Conscious Construction

March 29, 2022

By Ella Schneider, WE Empower Intern

“Our aim is to set an alternative for our building activities that will allow us to reduce our carbon emissions, reduce our energy consumption in buildings, improve our indoor air quality and create sustainable solutions that will create a real community development approach”. - Radwa Rostom

Radwa RostomRadwa Rostom - CEO and Founder of Hand Over Projects- Egypt

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Middle East and North Africa

Modern building techniques used by most design and construction companies are not environmentally sustainable. Hand Over aims to transform the construction industry through the use of natural and renewable materials. Founded by Radwa Rostom, a multiple award winning civil engineer, Hand Over fosters sustainable development through its approach to individual projects, buildings and spaces in addition to directly providing homes for underprivileged communities.

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Women in Digital in a Male-Dominated Industry

March 29, 2022

by Danyelle Kawamura, WE Empower Intern

“We believe technology does not have any gender and we have proved that women can do the coding and technical things.” – Achia Nila, founder of Women in Digital

Achia NilaAchia Nila, founder of Women in Digital, Bangladesh

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Asia-Pacific

Over 15 years ago, Achia Nila discovered there were little to no women in the tech field. Since then, she has successfully brought women and girls into the tech field and continues to promote education and empowerment through technology. Her aim is to create digital platforms that “support, promote, and empower women in areas of IT.” In alignment with UN SDG 4: Quality Education, she has trained and empowered over 10,000 women and girls in Bangladesh and continues to work towards promoting women’s digital literacy.

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Accelerate2030: An Innovative Take on Advancing Entrepreneurship

March 29, 2022

By Danyelle Kawamura, WE Empower Intern

“We have some eight and a half years to go into 2030 and this is a journey we really can’t do alone.” – Alexandra Boëthius, Strategic Lead of Accelerate2030

Alexandra ‘Santu’ Boëthius, Strategic Lead of Accelerate2030 and Co-founder of Impact Hub Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Europe and North America

Alex Boethius

Alexandra Boëthius is the Strategic Lead of Accelerate2030, which identifies and supports innovative companies tackling the SDG’s in emerging and developing countries. Boëthius began her journey while obtaining her M.A. in International Relations at the University of St. Andrews. Boëthius’ thesis focused on the role of women’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in ensuring the implementation of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Turkey. Boëthius went onto volunteer at an NGO, the National Centre Against Violence, whose goal is to combat domestic and sexual violence against women and children in Mongolia. She continued her journey as an intern for UN Women in Tbilisi, Georgia with a focus on migrant and refugee populations.

It is evident that Boëthius’ efforts throughout both her education and professional career have focused on the implementation of a wider gender lens in all her areas of interest. She has continuously promoted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and this has manifested into Accelerate2030.

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Transformative Technology - The Future of Agriculture

March 29, 2022

By Ella Schneider, WE Empower Intern

“ I am passionate and dedicated to not only advancing the world of global agriculture, but also forging a path of success for innovative female farmers and leaders in the future. - Shari von de Pol

Shari von de PolShari von de Pol - CEO of CATTLEytics Incorporated - Canada

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Europe and North America

From a career in Computer Engineering to earning her doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, Shari von de Pol began her journey in improving animals through innovative technology while also galvanizing people to envision their goals and bring new ideas to fruition in this space. CATTLEytics Incorporated uses Agricultural Technology, a system to collect and use animal data, to shape local and global farms to become more economically and ecologically sustainable. With a growing population and increase in climate change, revolutionary agriculture data utilization is of the utmost importance to not only feed the population but to decrease resource use.

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Nanas y Amas: Building prosperity through dignified domestic work

March 29, 2022

By Danyelle Kawamura, WE Empower Intern

Claudia Esparza“Our mission is to promote domestic work with dignity as a powerful tool to build prosperity.” – Claudia Esparza, Founder of Nanas y Amas

Claudia Esparza, Founder of Nanas y Amas

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Latin America and Caribbean

For over 12 years, Claudia and Nanas y Amas has provided decent work opportunities and empowered domestic workers to achieve economic independence. In alignment with UN SDG1: No Poverty and UN SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Nanas y Amas puts domestic workers in a healthier position to network, own their lives, and achieve their dreams while having access to work and the ability to economically support their families.

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Rede NAMI: Women’s Empowerment through Urban Arts

March 29, 2022

By Ella Schneider, WE Empower Intern

“Our work aims to promote structural change in society, bringing knowledge through communication so that girls and women know how to fight for their rights and guarantee full access to the best possibilities of being in the world.” - Panmela Castro

Pnamela CastroPanmela Castro - Founder and President of Rede NAMI - Brazil

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Latin America and Caribbean

Fighting for gender equality to create a society free from violence towards women, Panmela Castro and the team of NAMI Network use art for cultural transformation through promoting women’s rights. Providing over 9,000 women with access to art education and financial independence, Castro creatively spreads information and laws about women’s rights to combat domestic violence.

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Inclusive Voices for Climate Solutions Event

February 18, 2022

By Danyelle Kawamura, GFL Communications Intern

“We believe that every activist has a story to tell and every story has a solution to give, and every solution has a life to change…We also believe that the climate movement doesn’t have just one face or two faces or three faces.” – Vanessa Nakate


The virtual event, Inclusive Voices for Climate Solutions held on January 25, 2022 was hosted by Vital Voices and moderated by Tazreen Hussain, Vital Voices Director of Leadership and Social Impact. The event highlighted perspectives from young female leaders working both within the climate space and on the frontlines of climate activism. Inclusive Voices for Climate Solutions explored ways in which we can ensure climate change solutions are both informed by and uplifting the voices of those who are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. 

Vanessa Nakate shared her perspectives at the event. Vanessa is an inspirational Ugandan climate activist, founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement and leader of the global network chapter, First Fridays For Future climate activists in Uganda. In 2020, she was named a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals and was listed as one of BBC’s 100 inspirational and influential women of the year. In 2021, Vanessa was further  honored with the Diane Von Furstenberg (DVF) Next Generation Award for climate change activism due to her work such as leading a campaign to save the Congo rainforests in the face of massive deforestation. Currently, Vanessa is working on the Vash Green Schools Project that focuses on the installation of solar panels and eco-friendly cookstoves in the rural schools of Uganda with the help of local communities and teachers. 

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim also shared her perspectives at the virtual event. Hindou is a Chadian Environmental Activist, geographer, and advocate for greater inclusion of indigenous people and their knowledge in the movement to fight the effects of climate change. She recently received the 2019 Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award, and was appointed as a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. Hindou was also named one of the 15 Women Championing Actions on Climate Change by Times Magazine in 2019. Given her Indigenous background, she is currently working on a project to give African women documented land titles to promote agro-ecology based on traditional and Indigenous knowledge. Hindou is also working on a project to create 2D Participatory Mapping. She aims to keep the traditional African languages in their mappings to help translate the knowledge from one generation to the next. Hindou states that this is not her job, but it is her life. She was born an activist and it is the reality of her community and her duty as an Indigenous person. 

“It’s really mind blowing how you can’t have climate justice without racial justice because many communities, many people who are on the frontline of the climate crisis…you find that they are black communities or people of color not just on the African continent.” – Vanessa Nakate


In 2020 the Associated Press (AP) published a photo at Davos of four female activists. This photo included Greta Thunberg, Isabelle Axelsson, Luisa Neubauer, Loukina Tille, and Vanessa Nakate. The activist cropped from the photo was Vanessa. This portrayed a clear visual representation of the experience of people of color and those of the global South being left out of climate conversations. Despite AP’s apology, Vanessa has shared her frustrations as it was the first time she felt or experienced something close to what she would call racism and made the connection to the intersection of racial and climate justice. The ugly truth is that, despite the African continent being on the front-lines of the climate crisis, they are not on the front pages of the world’s newspapers. The issue itself was addressed in depth in Vanessa’s book A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis which was published in November of 2021. 

Similarly, Hindou speaks on the various ways women are marginalized. She spoke on the constant battle to get a seat at both international conferences and around decision-making tables. Hindou shared that it is important to attend events as a team of Indigenous peoples to enforce the feeling of being a community as well as being able to support and back whoever is speaking. Hindou also states that it is a constant fight to be present for climate negotiations.Very few women are seen in negotiator roles, let alone Indigenous women.

Both Vanessa and Hindou stated that it is their vision that keeps them in activism. The feel inspired witnessing women becoming included at decision-making tables, even if they wish there were more, especially more indigenous women. They are both driven, it is for the benefit of future generations, to continue to demand climate justice and foster relationships to ensure their voices are heard. We all have a role to play in supporting activists like Vanessa and Hinou to fulfill SDG5 and achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls in this fight for climate justice. 

SheTrades and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator Event  

February 4, 2022

By Ella Schneider, GFL Communications Intern  

The virtual launch of SheTrades and Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (WEA) on January 18, 2022 was moderated by Amanda Ellis, the lead for global partnerships at Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory (GFL) and co-chair of WE Empower UN SDG Challenge. This event marks the revolutionary launch of the free Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, available online through SheTrades. WEA convenes five UN agencies International Labor Organization (ILO), International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Global Compact (UNGC), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UN Women, private-sector MaryKay and includes the most recent partnership with WE Empower. These partnerships help over 5 million women gain access to certificates, networks and mentors that foster the growth and success of women-led and women-owned businesses around the globe.  

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A Health Solution to Treat Underserved Communities, One Call at a Time

January 13, 2022

“There is something called the doctor bride phenomenon in Pakistan, where parents want their daughters to become doctors and get a medical degree so that they end up getting the best hand in marriage. And that’s where the buck stops. Then, very few people want them to actually work.” — Sara Saeed, WE Empower 2021 Awardee

Sara Saeed, WE Empower 2021 Awardee, Co-founder and CEO of Sehat Kahani (left), speaks with WE Empower contributing author Amanda Kiviaho.

Sehat Kahani is an ICT-enabled video solution connecting a network of qualified female doctors, with a focus on doctor brides, to help underserved patients in Pakistan. Interview edited for length and clarity.

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The UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator joins forces with WE Empower, co-led by ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory™ and Vital Voices

November 18, 2021

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (WEA) hosted a pivotal UNGA virtual side-event, “Joining Forces to Drive Change,” in September 2021 to celebrate their 2nd anniversary. WEA was established during UNGA 75 by six United Nation agencies: International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP), UN Global Compact (UNGC), UN Development Programme (UNDP), and UN Women, along with private-sector partner Mary Kay with the goal to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2030.

Along with our formal partnerships announcement between WEA and WE Empower, below are our favorite takeaways and calls to action from the event. 

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The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator hosts, “Joining Forces to Drive Change,” to celebrate 2nd Anniversary

October 6, 2021

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (WEA) hosted a pivotal UNGA virtual side-event, “Joining Forces to Drive Change,” on Tuesday, September 28 marking the 2nd anniversary of its launch.

WEA was established during UNGA 75 in consultation with six UN agencies and private-sector partner Mary Kay, with the impressive goal to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2030. Moderated by WE Empower Co-Chair, Amanda Ellis, the event showcased a remarkable presenter lineup.

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Marisol Villalobos' eco-friendly agribusiness was inspired by a simple breadfruit

September 22, 2021

“I dare you to begin. And to connect with other dreamers in action.” —Marisol Villalobos, founder of Amasar

Marisol Villalobos, founder of Amasar, Puerto Rico

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Latin America & the Caribbean

Marisol Villalobos discusses her regenerative agribusiness, spotlighting the bountiful Breadfruit and its impressive nutritional qualities that help support local food security, along with empowering farmers in Puerto Rico to promote a dignified way of life. As told to WE Empower contributing author, Amanda Kiviaho, edited for length and clarity.

First there was Breadfruit, then there was Amasar

“My husband and I were away from Puerto Rico for a while as working professionals abroad, I as a microbiologist and he as a chemical engineer. While in Italy, my godmother called me one day and asked, ‘What [food] do you get there?’ and I said, ‘We get everything: yams, bananas, but I don’t have any breadfruit,’ and so she sent me a breadfruit all the way from Puerto Rico to Milan. That sparked our attention and I clearly remember that moment. We had a party that day and we ate the whole thing in different dishes. I remember saying to my husband, ‘Hey, what if we shipped breadfruits to Italy?’."

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Olufunto Boroffice leading innovative company allowing vulnerable communities to recycle waste and make a sustainable livelihood

September 14, 2021

"At Chanja Datti we promote and sustain the rights of our women in their communities and their homes by providing a means for financial freedom.” — Olufunto Boroffice, founder and CEO of Chanja Datti

Olufunto Boroffice Founder and CEO, Chanja Datti Ltd Nigeria 2021 WE Empower Awardee, Sub-Saharan Africa

The challenges of poverty, gender inequality and the lack of opportunities create struggles that are often difficult to overcome. Olufunto Boroffice is leading Chanja Datti, an innovative company in Nigeria that allows vulnerable communities in Nigeria to recycle waste and make a sustainable livelihood. WE Empower contributing author, Sidney McKee, highlights how Chanja Datti converts burdensome waste material into opportunities that boost the quality of life for many.

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WE Empower winners recognized for innovations in flood mapping technology

September 14, 2021

Deadly floods have been submerging towns and cities across the globe, washing away people’s livelihoods and raising questions about why there are still so many people dying from catastrophic floods in 2021.

Even in the Valley of the Sun, phones buzz with flash flood warnings as many roads and parks sit under feet of water during a heavy monsoon storm.

Floods are the most common, destructive and deadly form of natural disaster, and they can occur anywhere rain falls — in other words, virtually everywhere. And they’re predicted to significantly increase in frequency and severity in the coming decades.

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The Generation Equality Forum: Record Breaking Investments to Advance Women’s Rights

August 19, 2021

The Generation Equality Forum held in Paris June 30 - July 2, 2021 was livestreamed to over 50,000 participants around the world. U.N. Women, political leaders, feminist movement leaders, corporate executives and activists gathered to address gender inequality, including the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women and girls, and to commit to action that will accelerate global progress over the next five years, by 2026.

The last time a gender equality conference of this scale was held was the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women where Hillary Clinton made headlines when she stated, “Women’s rights are human rights.” This time, a commitment to action was emphasized: $40 billion confirmed over 5 years by governments, donors, and corporations — the largest amount of investment to advance gender equality and women’s rights recorded to-date.

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WE Empower UN SDG Challenge 2020 Awardee Cloud to Street featured on the cover of Nature magazine

August 10, 2021

Congratulations to WE Empower 2020 awardees Bessie Schwarz and Beth Tellman on their life saving work! Cloud to Street co-founders Tellman and Schwarz recently released the ‘largest observed dataset of floods’ to the public free of charge. This data was collected from high-resolution satellites sensing flood activity, in ‘near’ real-time, over a 15-year span. Their goal? To enable, “[…] access to nearly a thousand flood events to train models, answer questions, and evaluate (their) community’s risks.”

With the benefits of improved data accuracy and increased depth comes surprises — substantially higher populations are impacted by flooding and are ‘growing ten times faster’ than previously anticipated. However, improved insights also enable the ability to plan for and monitor flood risk, imperative for policy makers, insurers, and disaster managers — and timely government relief efforts. The team, composed of over 50% women, is currently working on their first product, a parametric flood protection insurance with a focus on the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Read the Nature article here

Five women entrepreneurs named awardees for the 2021 WE Empower UN SDG Challenge

July 15, 2021

The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge – a global business challenge led in partnership by Vital Voices Global Partnership and Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at ASU – today announced the five social entrepreneurs selected as their 2021 Awardees.

The five 2021 WE Empower Awardees are:

• Olufunto Boroffice, Founder and CEO, Chanja Datti Ltd (Nigeria)

• Nidhi Pant, Co-Founder and Head of Finance and Partnerships, S4S Technologies (India)

• Sara Saeed, Co-Founder and CEO, Sehat Kahani (Pakistan)

• Panmela Castro, Founder and CEO, Panmela Castro Arte e Cultura and Rede Nami (Brazil)

• Aline Sara, Co-founder and CEO, NaTakallam (United States)

Each entrepreneur was selected on the basis that they lead an enterprise committed to advancing one or more of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and leverage their businesses to push for progress in their communities.

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ASU recognized as nation's most impactful for second straight year

April 24, 2021

ASU is #1 in teh US for global impact.With sustainability long held as a core value across the entire university and home to the nation's first comprehensive Global Futures Laboratory, ASU was again ranked by Time Higher Education as the top US institution when it comes impacts made addressing 17 specific goals aimed at achieving a better world for 2030, known as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ASU also retained a top-ten international ranking, tied at #9 with last year's top ranked-institution globally, University of Auckland in New Zealand.

ASU scored a total of 95.8 points out of 100, with highest scores pertaining to goals for Sustainable Cities and Communities (93.4, second overall globally); Responsible Consumption and Production (89.7, fourth); Eradicating Poverty (87.1, third); Clean Sanitation and Water (82.3, fifth); Climate Action (81.8, fourth); and Life Below Water (89.5, seventh). Each SDG includes a set of targets and indicators designed by the United Nations and adopted in 2015 to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

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When She Leads: The power and potential of women’s entrepreneurship

March 17, 2021

On March 16th, 2021 the United Nations Global Compact’s Target Gender Equality Live event convened leaders from business, government, civil society and academia to discuss and demonstrate how the private sector can help bring down barriers to gender equality by respecting and supporting the rights of women and girls.

2020 WE Empower Awardee Valrie Grant and co-chair Amanda Ellis participated in the panel discussion “When She Leads: The Power and Potential of Women’s Entrepreneurship.” The session featured a fireside chat where women entrepreneurs from around the world spoke about how their organization advances the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the obstacles they face. Following the fireside chat, a panel discussion of industry leaders discussed best practices of how to support women-led businesses and how organizations can engage in similar initiatives.

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Celebrating Women's Empowerment at ASU: Launching the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge 2021

March 4, 2021

Celebrating Women's Empowerment at ASU GraphicIn honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Educational Outreach and Student Services, and the ASU SDG5 Coalition are curating a series of events that showcase ASU’s partnerships advancing Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

Join us on International Women's Day, March 8th at 11am MST (6pm GMT/1pm EST) for the first event of the series. We will launch the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge 2021 and examine the barriers women face with World Bank Women, Business, and the Law. To learn how ASU is combatting these challenges by partnering with global organizations on SDG5 initiatives, join us to hear from Inter-Parliamentary Union Secretary General, Martin Chungong, ASU's Inaugural SDG5 Male Champion for Change.

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