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Roots Studio: Reimagining cultural appreciation

January 23, 2023

Rebecca Hui

"Roots Studio creates 2-way bridges between heritage artists and values-aligned brands in fashion, home, and retail. We are reimagining everyday.”

Rebecca Hui, Founder/CEO of Roots Studio

Rebecca Hui, Founder/CEO of Roots Studio, 2021 WE Empower Finalist, Europe and North America

Rebecca Hui has always had a passion for bridging cultures. This led to the founding of Roots Studio in hopes to celebrate cultures through beauty and wonder. Roots Studio was not always the e-commerce site it is now that sells limited-edition prints by rural artisans. It began as a 50-seater Mahindra bus that was a school on wheels serving four villages of West Bengal. Its original idea was to “create a flexible school that addressed education inaccessibility in areas lacking school infrastructure.” While English was taught from the four walls of the Mahindra bus, Hui saw there was still a disconnect between education and opportunity. This resulted in the shift from education to economic empowerment and art. Hui desired that this shift celebrated the rich cultures and crafted skills that are passed down throughout generations.

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S4S: Sustainable Livelihoods Through Innovative Food and Technology

January 17, 2023

Nidhi Pant

“S4S believes bringing government authorities and grassroots women together is critical to affecting sustainable change.”

Nidhi Pant

Nidhi Pant – Co-Founder of S4S Technologies – India – 2021 WE Empower Awardee – Asia-Pacific

S4S Technologies assists women without land as well as farmers to become entrepreneurs by providing micro food processing units that help them generate an average additional income of $1,000-$1,500 annually. These Micro-Entrepreneurs (ME) do not have to pay for these units up-front, but instead work with S4S to eventually own their equipment through payment plans. Developed by Nidhi Pant, the food processing systems are solar-powered, creating a climate-friendly machine that processes produce to be used by the ME or sold to increase household income.


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Slowing Down Fashion: Sustainable Clothing and Goods with Ethic Attic

January 9, 2023

collection of handbags and other items for sail in store display

“Our goal is to be a one stop place for design conscious products that are sustainable and made with least negative impact on the ecology.”

Rema Sivaram

Rema Sivaram – Co-Founder of Ethic Attic by Fairkonnect

India- 2021 WE Empower Finalist, Asia-Pacific

Rema SivaramEthic Attic by Fairkonnect is a Fair Trade organization based in India that brings local artisan goods to the global market. Working with independent weavers, craftsmen and artisans, Ethic Attic assists them through providing design intervention, product development, market readiness as well as giving the market platform space to sell their goods. Their recent social initiative, Project Hennu, trains women from the slums of urban Bangalore in basic sewing skills, pattern making and production management; initially, Project Hennu was started to help create masks for the Covid-19 pandemic, but has now grown into a full-scale business for exporting quality garments around the world.

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Clean, Safe Mukuru Clean Stoves: An Economic Opportunity for Women

January 2, 2023

crew of 7  workers who make the stoves with some stoves on ground in front of them

“Our vision is to eradicate household air pollution in Africa by empowering local women business owners to fight energy poverty.”

Charlot Magayi

Charlot Magayi – Founder of Mukuru Clean Stoves – Kenya – 2021 WE Empower Finalist, Sub-Saharan Africa

Charlot MagayiMukuru Clean Stoves replace traditional stoves with improved cookstoves that reduce exposure to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), have lower fuel consumption and reduce overall cooking time. While there is a tremendous need in Kenya for these kinds of cookstoves, barriers such as affordability and accessibility prevent further adoption of improved cooking methods. Founder, Charlot Magayi, is passionate about reducing these barriers and empowering women through her improved cookstoves.

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Shabab Lab | Revolutionizing Technologies to Promote Social Change in Arab Communities

December 28, 2022

Mona Itani

“The vision of our organization is to transform Arab youth into social innovators and changemakers in their communities. To do so, we have developed academic programs that integrate well within international and national curricula and that rest on three pillars: technology, entrepreneurship, and the social good.”

Mona Itani

Mona Itani – CEO & Founder of Shabab Lab – Lebanon

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Middle East and North Africa

Transforming Arab youth into changemakers in their community is the foundation of Mona Itani’s online platform Shabab Lab. The e-learning programs provided online are self-paced and project-based in which students get hands-on experience with new technologies where they learn how to utilize them to create solutions to an issue within their community. Not only does the Shabab Lab platform teach entrepreneurship and technology skills, but it teaches a variety of other important skills such as teamwork, analytical thinking and effective communication.

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Fly Technista | Providing Tech Opportunities for Women Around the Globe

December 20, 2022

TeLisa Daughtry- CEO & Founder of Fly Technista- United States of America

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Europe and North America

“We are on a mission to empower 1 million women and girls by 2026 to become confident creators, innovators and leaders in technology.”

TeLisa Daughtry

Telisa DaughtryWith over 1.4 million tech-related jobs available and only 3% of these roles filled by women, Fly Technista, a revolutionary mobile app, bridges the access gap for women within the tech industry by providing education, employment and entrepreneurship resources. Fly Technista is committed to creating inclusive work environments where everyone has access to the resources and develops the skills to succeed.

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Yetunde Oyalowo – Founder of Market Doctors – Nigeria

December 19, 2022

2022 WE Empower Awardee, Sub-Saharan Africa

Yetunde Oyalowo
Yetunde Oyalowo
Healthcare has become a critical focus in recent years, especially in Nigeria. Access to simple checkups and medicine is infeasible for millions of Nigerians due to low availability, high costs, and long travel. Yetunde Ayo Oyalowo is a doctor with a dream of universal healthcare throughout Africa, and that dream comes closer to reality every day through her social enterprise Market Doctors.

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NaTakallam, a pathway forward and upward for refugees

December 5, 2022

“I am committed to advocating on behalf of refugees and displaced people, especially women, as well as the need for sustainable livelihoods through marketable skills of the future.” --Aline Sara

Aline Sara – CEO & Co-Founder of NaTakallam- United States of America

2021 WE Empower Awardee, Europe and North America

Aline Sara

Bridging communities and advocating for refugees and displaced people is at the heart of NaTakallam, an online platform that provides language services such as tutoring, translation and virtual interpretation services. What makes this platform unique is that the services are provided by refugees and their host communities, producing stable economic income and long-term skills. This transformative platform revolutionizes language services and works to change some perceptions of refugees being a burden on society to being an essential asset.

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Selva Nevada | Empowering Indigenous communities through biodiverse products

November 29, 2022

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“We promote the consumption of super-fruits and natural ingredients in national and international markets, creating a clear link between consumer choice and sustainable use of biodiversity from tropical markets.” -- Catalina Alvarez

Catalina Alvarez – Co-Founder of Selva Nevada – Colombia

2021 WE Empower Finalist, Latin America, and Caribbean

Catalina Alvarez has worked for over fourteen years on various projects that seek to improve the economic conditions of small rural producers in Colombia. Alvarez helped to found Selva Nevada which brings the rich biodiversity of Colombia to the market through producing and commercializing specialist-made icecreams, pulps, and concentrates. Through sustainable practices, Selva Nevada partners with indigenous families who live in Colombian tropical forests to generate non-timber forest products (NTFPs) income, protecting their natural resources and biodiversity while also creating dependable incomes for rural communities.

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STEM Minds: Lessons on the Classroom

October 18, 2022

“Now more than ever, youth need to become self-directed, life-long learners. This means we need to alter how we teach and what we teach to unlock their full potential.”

- Anu Bidani

Anu Bidani - Founder & CEO of STEM Minds - Canada, 2022 WE Empower Finalist, Europe, North America & Other

Anu BidaniInvesting in future generations is what sustainability is all about, and STEM Minds is getting right at the heart of it. STEM education suffers from particularly imbalanced student demographics. Women and people with disabilities are especially underrepresented, which is why Anu Bidani shifted the paradigm so that as many children as possible can experience the value and wonder of STEM studies. STEM Minds is the inspiringly successful product of her dedication.

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The Live Green Company: Feeding the World with Nature and Science

September 29, 2022

“The empowerment and support of women leaders are crucial to our continued survival as a planet. I feel very proud as a female entrepreneur who has navigated her own way through the challenges of adversity and come out on top despite the odds.”

- Priyanka Srinivas

Priyanka Srinivas - Founder of the Live Green Company - Chile, 2022 WE Empower Finalist, Latin America and Caribbean

Priyanka SrinivasPriyanka Srinivas started Live Green in 2018 with the vision to provide sustainable alternatives to the mainstream products of the food industry. She experienced the challenge of finding truly nutritious food first-hand due to so many concerning ingredients and practices behind much of what is available on grocery store shelves. In the last four years, the Live Green Company has been working to create a growing variety of plant-based, healthy products, and is now ready to start eliminating all of the synthetic ingredients and processes.

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Eureka Tech Academy: Bringing Quality Tech Learning to Students in the MENA Region

September 28, 2022

“We believe that our future relies on technology and we want our kids in MENA to be future leaders! The 21th century skills require a new set of skills for kids, so it's not just about engineering and coding, it's about teaching the new generation critical thinking, entrepreneurial thinking, problem solving, etc.” - Afnan Ali

Afnan Ali - Founder and General Manager - Eureka Tech Education for Kids,

2022 WE Empower Finalist, MENA Region

Afnan AliAfnan Ali, the founder and the general manager of Eureka Tech Academy, is an electrical/communication engineer who received a diploma in social entrepreneurship. Based in Jordan, Ali is the founder and the general manager of Eureka - the first online tech academy for children and youth in the Arab World. In 2018, her enterprise was selected by MBC, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Harvard Arab Conference as one of the best enterprises in the Arab World. Ali started Eureka because she hopes that it can inspire and prepare “ a new generation of tech entrepreneurs in the MENA region to build Silicon Valley in MENA.”

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re:3D INC- Redefining Technology: Bringing Affordability and accessibility to All

September 28, 2022

Samantha Snabes

“We believe in economic empowerment, accessibility, and employment opportunities” -Samantha Snabes, co-founder and CEO of re:3D INC, United States of America

Samantha Snabes, 2022 WE Empower Finalist, Europe and North America

With experience as a volunteer, a firefighter, a NASA employee, and an officer in the Air National Guard, Samantha Snabes is a women entrepreneur using her unique lived experiences to inform and scale her business. . Snabes, CEO of re: 3D, set out to “decimate cost/scale barriers to 3D printing” and in doing so has created the capacity for jobs, education, and provided new outlets to reverse the negative impacts of climate change. In 2013, Gigabot was born as the first true affordable 3D printing machine to give access to people all around the world, and to tear down the barriers between wealth and technology. Aligning with UN SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure , UN SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and UN SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production re:3D is providing the opportunity to create accessible products from plastic waste in a commanding and sustainable way whilst creating jobs that supply high end tech training.

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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.