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G lob a l Issues T h roug h t h e E yes o f Wome n


“It is time for women to band together, take the power, and heal the Earth.” Jane Goodall

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Every Woman. One Dream. 2 |

Founder’s Pulse

The Unsilent Spring rowing up my playgrounds were the fields and streams surrounding our old farmhouse in the hills of rural Wisconsin. I learned the rhythms of insects and birds, the song of the frogs lining our creek, and the language of the wind in the cottonwood tree from which I tied my rope swing. Year by year, though, my family and I began to detect unsettling changes. Our breathtaking constellation of stars faded as lights from the suburban © Frank Rogozienski | Bioneers

sprawl encroached, and birdcalls no longer lulled me to sleep on summer nights. One day I found our stream stagnant and rotten, choked with yellow foam. It had become contaminated from chemical run-off from the neighboring farms. When I began reporting around the world, I recognized a mourning similar to my own in the eyes of women in the Amazon whose sacred lands had been coated in oil spills. The animals they relied on for nourishment had vanished, and their children had become sick with unexplainable rashes, boils, and stomach cancers. In Burma and neighboring Thailand, I met families who had been forced from their homes by military troops to make way for a natural gas pipeline. Many had been forced into slave labor for oil companies. They had been gang-raped and tortured into submission.

Millions of modern-day Rachel Carsons are stepping out from the shadow of mining pits, blasted mountains, and scorched forests to mobilize their communities. Everywhere women are on the frontlines of ecological destruction. As the primary caregivers, providers of sustenance, and agricultural producers, they work most closely with the natural environment and are most impacted by its degradation. Mothers hold contaminated water to their children’s mouths and care for family members with birth defects, cancers, and illnesses due to toxic pollution. Young girls spend their days scouring for firewood that has become scarce. Women farmers find their land eroded by thinning topsoil, baked dry or washed away due to climate change. Just as rape plagues womankind, the rape of the Earth strikes a double punch. Yet with the most at stake, women have become increasingly motivated to protect the Earth. Millions of modern-day Rachel Carsons are stepping out from the shadow of mining pits, blasted mountains, dumping grounds, and scorched forests to mobilize their communities. These women leaders are a potent immune system for the Earth. They, and the solutions they bring, are poised to lead the environmental movement into its most formidable chapter yet. Now it is our job to crank up the volume on these often-unheard voices so that they can become an unstoppable, vibrant force for ecological restoration: quiet no more, loudly roaring and gushing with life. | 3

Table of Contents

Departments 3 Founder’s Pulse 7 Letters 8


10 My Story

Women write on land

14 Woman to Watch

5 questions for a rising leader

Frontline Journal

Truth and Consequences in the Caucasus

15 Visionary Leaders

Spokeswomen for a movement


16 Business Alchemy

True stories from women entrepreneurs

“Those who dare to speak the truth are a headache for Russian authorities.” By Elena Milashina

61 My Homeland Authors celebrate their birth countries


Raising a Child in the Wild

63 Global Gatherings

Top international events

66 Arts

Best in books, music, and film

72 Marketplace

Products supporting women worldwide

80 Your World

Actions for global balance

56 59

“Being outdoors is our way of life, one that we hope to impart to our child.” By Deb Gregoire, as told to Leighann Franson

Through His Eyes

The Uncomfortable Silence

“I began my work as a journalist but will be ending it as an activist.”

24 © AFP Photo | Essam Al-Sudani

20 © Josh Fredman | RDI

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18 © Novaya Gazeta

By Jimmie Briggs



Earth Emergency “Listening to and supporting women may be the greatest hope for the environmental movement.”

The High Stakes of Land



Brazil Breaking Through

The biggest country in South America is on the brink of transformation.


“If we’re going to address poverty and hunger, we have to talk about women’s land rights.” By Rhyen Coombs

6 Eco-Breakthroughs for the Planet’s Women Inspiring new trends are changing women’s lives and restoring the Earth. By Kim Crane

56 © Deb Gregoire

52 © Thomas Lee

42 © Courtesy of KVA MATx

46 © Wendy Marijnissen

What’s the Point of the Revolution if We Can’t Dance


“How do we maintain the energy needed to create the change we so desperately seek?” By Jane Barry | 5

© Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson |

Founder & Creative Director Jensine Larsen Editorial Managing Editor | Corine Milano Consulting Editor | Ramya Ramanathan Assistant Editor | Kimberly Crane Photo Editor | Ula Kuras Copy Team | Mead Hunter, Jill Kelly Translators | Maria Jett, Nana Nash, Bharath Punjabi Design | Cary Design Group Programs Director of Operations | Janice Wong Technology Director | Ankur Naik Online Community Manager | Jade Frank Business Development Director | Cynthia Casas Program Manager | Rachael Maddock Hughes Program Coordinator | Scott Beck Administrative Coordinator | Lisa Cohrs Development Officer | Elsie McIver Executive Coordinator | Ellie Angelova Africa Outreach Specialist | Leah Okeyo Technology Adviser | Susan Kenniston

The Soul of World Pulse Let us be a loudspeaker for women of the world. Let us call forth voice where before there was silence. Let us stand back while they speak up, for their words are so beautiful they need no adornment.

Legal Counsel | Davis and Gilbert LLP

Let us be their platform, their forum, their safe haven, their sanctuary, an amplifier no one can ignore.

Volunteers Erin Dhruva, Michelle Elmquist, Lisa Hinton, Ursula Miniszewski, Nicole Oran Pampanin, Jody Weinstein

Let us create a world where women are not only free, but empowered so greatly as to be unstoppable.

Accountant | Kim Hegdahl

Connect with the World Pulse team on PulseWire! Board of Directors Lin Coughlin, Zulma Miranda, Kathy LeMay, Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, Ellen Wingard, Gillian Parrillo, Christine Austin, Michelle Horowitz, Caroline Rook, Darcy Winslow Editorial Guide Council Mariane Pearl, Lisa Ling, Hafsat Abiola, Hazel Henderson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mahnaz Afkhami, Winona LaDuke, Riane Eisler, 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, Zainab Salbi, Paul Hawken, Loung Ung, Ritu Sharma

inspiring new possibilities

World Pulse Magazine (ISSN# 15496678) is published by World Pulse, a US-based nonprofit. While we look to include articles consistent with our mission, the opinions expressed in the articles published in World Pulse Magazine are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of World Pulse management and staff. World Pulse welcomes comments and suggestions as well as information about errors that call for correction. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or in part, is prohibited without permission. All rights reserved throughout the world. Send editorial comments and queries to: Submission guidelines at Find us on newsstands at Borders, Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores across the US and Canada. To purchase additional copies of this issue, email Visit to learn how to get the magazine delivered to your doorstep. Find out how to advertise with us at Please share this issue. World Pulse is printed on recycled paper. Cert no. SW-COC-002556

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A world where each woman can transform her life and the lives of those around her, simply by raising her voice. One voice at a time, millions of voices strong. Until the sound is so deafening, the whole world will hear their music. It’s not just a dream, it’s a revolution that has already begun. This is the pulse that transforms the world.

This is World Pulse. World Pulse Magazine is published by World Pulse, a media enterprise covering global issues through the eyes of women. We are dedicated to broadcasting the unheard voices and innovative solutions of women worldwide. From web to print, we’ve created a forum where women and their communities can connect across oceans, continents, and cultural barriers to create a new world. Visit our website at to download our vision book, read additional articles, and connect directly with many of the featured leaders in this edition through PulseWire. Cover Photo: © Tatiana Cardeal | Our cover photo depicts 80-year-old Maria Xerente, an indigenous elder, at the Brazilian Indigenous National Festival, an annual event that brings together approximately 600 ethnic groups. Photographer Tatiana Cardeal has been documenting this gathering since 2005.


Voices from the Ground

The World Pulse Community Speaks! Comments and letters have been pouring in about our last edition, Fulfill. Here’s what you had to say. A New Frequency I have had World Pulse Magazine under a stack of yoga journals for a while. Sometimes we forget these small miracles that are right beneath our hands and hidden from our eyes. Upon finding it, I read the whole issue cover to cover and my eyes kept welling up in tears. Sometimes we focus too much on the problems and forget people are still singing as they fight through them. Thank you. Mei Li | USA

PulseWire could be the voice of thousands of women in my country who are yet to be heard by society or by the media. PulseWire is a world where there is no patriarchal structure to silence me. Finally, there is a space where I am encouraged to write, where people are responding to my stories, and where I can hear the voices of unheard women from hundreds of countries. Thank you for creating this forum.

than destroy, uplift rather than suppress, give hope rather than create despair. Linda Lubin | USA

I was encouraged to read Fatima Bhutto’s article, “My Country of Horror and Possibility.” Women all across Pakistan are rising up and making a huge difference. We, the community of Pakistani American women, support their efforts and will be working with the US government to change our foreign policies in Pakistan. Yes, We CAN and We WILL!! Saba Ahmed | USA

I enjoyed almost all of the articles in the last edition of World Pulse Magazine, but “The New Economic Visionaries” left me wanting. The blueprints presented for a new economy were vague and seemed particularly dreamy, making it hard for me to see how they could actually work. I want to believe that these visions can become reality, but I have a hard time grasping what it will take to get there. What are steps that we, as readers, can take to make these visions come true? Are there things that are in progress or steps people can take within our current economic structure to move toward these models? Ellen Pearlman | USA

Sometimes we focus too much on the problems and forget people are still singing as they fight through them. Mei Li

Geedha | India

Inspiring New Possibilities Thank you for Lydia Cacho’s story, “Happiness in a Dirty War.” Lydia, you are a role model to many of us who are facing similar situations but are too scared to voice our feelings. Because of you, many young women like me are encouraged and inspired to speak out. Zoneziwoh | Cameroon

Thank you to Fatima Bhutto for sharing her deep insight into Pakistan’s fundamental issues. It was enlightening to me to read that Obama’s approach is a mere continuation of past policies. It is my hope that as the US government is able to focus more attention on this critical player on the world stage, we will see a more constructive approach. In the meantime, I know that women will play a critical role in moving Pakistan in a new direction. In the US, we must take responsibility for the horrors we have created or contributed to around the world. In so doing, we will create rather

Transforming the World I am the executive director of a small women-led nonprofit called Fair Fund. We work with girls around the world to educate them on how to stay safe from human trafficking and sexual abuse, while teaching them job skills and providing mentoring. I was moved by your article “Girl Revolution,” because I know that the girls in our program not only deserve a better life, they are making it happen. There is an urgent need to recognize that girls are resilient and strong members of our world’s social capital and cannot be ignored. I am going to read parts of this article to some of my girls in Serbia, Russia, and Uganda. I know they will enjoy it too! Andrea Powell | USA

Note from the Editor: Visit the Action Center on to find out concrete steps you can take to make these visions a reality.

Walking the Same Path It’s beautiful to see how PulseWire and World Pulse are bringing change to the world of journalism. Most of the people in the “third world” have this perception that people from the “first world” don’t care. Women sharing their stories in their own words is a great initiative, and nothing can be better than this experience of sharing our stories with women from around the world who have walked the same path. Khushbu | Nepal

Raise your voice!

Send feedback, thoughts, and suggestions to Throughout this edition, you’ll see this icon, which means you can connect directly with these leaders on PulseWire by visiting | 7


Taking the World’s Pulse for Women Updates from all corners of the globe

US: Fight against Gender-Based Violence Gaining Momentum An effort long in the making, the International Violence Against Women Act was recently reintroduced into Congress with bipartisan support. If passed, this sweeping legislation would commit the US to prioritizing gender-based violence in both US domestic and foreign policy.

© UN Photo

HAITI: Women Rise from the Rubble In January, women in Haiti experienced a double tragedy: first a 7.0 earthquake, and now the devastating aftershocks to women’s health and safety that accompany infrastructure collapse. Despite the devastation, Haiti’s surviving women leaders are poised to take charge and lead recovery efforts.

COSTA RICA: First Female President Laura Chinchilla was elected as president of Costa Rica this February. She was voted in on a socially conservative, tough-on-crime platform, and it remains to be seen whether her agenda will change women’s lives for the better.

© AP Photo

BOLIVIA: Gender Parity Achieved in Cabinet Bolivian women achieved unprecedented political gains through new cabinet appointments in President Evo Morales’ government. Bolivia is only the second country in Latin America to achieve equal gender representation in its cabinet, behind Chile.


The Ecological Balance Sheet Our global economic system has a fatal flaw: Healthy ecosystems have no value on the balance sheet. Some promising new initiatives are calculating the environment’s true price tag. 8 |

$4.42 Trillion

The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)

Vetted by the scientific community, the GPI adjusts annual gross domestic product (GDP) to factor in the cost of environmental degradation. NOTED: The US GPI indicates that since the 1970s, our economic growth has remained stagnant. In 2004, the US Global Progress Indicator was $4.42 trillion, compared to a $10.76 trillion GDP.

US WATCH UGANDA: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Women

BURMA: International Tribunal on Crimes against Women

It’s been a busy parliament session for Uganda’s women. The gains: In November, Uganda passed a bill criminalizing sexual violence and in December it banned female genital mutilation. The losses: Antiquated divorce laws remain on the books, and Uganda is on the brink of taking a huge step backwards if it passes “anti-gay” laws punishing LGBT individuals with harsh sentences.

In March, 12 women testified against Burma’s military regime and called for their country’s leaders to be tried in the International Criminal Court. They shared their stories of brutal oppression and human rights abuses, giving voice to an entire generation of women who have grown up under military dictatorship. The historic tribunal, organized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, was backed by six female Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Obama’s Green To-Do List US environmental policies have a huge impact on the lives of women around the world. How is Obama measuring up to his campaign promises? Increase funding to Environmental Protection Agency Begin water conservation efforts in western states Invest in alternative energy Form international partnerships to share environmental technology Develop job training programs for clean technologies Create White House garden to encourage local food production Require 25% renewable energy by 2025

PHILIPPINES: Journalists Massacred in Maguindanao At the end of 2009, politically motivated attacks in the Philippines shocked the world with their brutality. 22 of the 57 victims were women and more than half of the victims were journalists killed in the line of duty. The killings add to a global rise in journalist deaths. The Committee to Protect Journalists has declared 2009 the worst year on the record for journalists.

Reduce oil consumption by 35% by 2030 Upgrade electricity to “smart grid” Create cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions Create 5 million “green” jobs Create safe disposal system for nuclear waste Create green technologies venture capital fund Eliminate oil and gas tax loopholes Create Global Energy Corps to promote green energy in developing countries  Completed 

 In Progess 

 No Progress

All data from St. Petersburg Times’

$2.2 Trillion

$75 Billion

Calculating corporate footprints keeps companies accountable for their environmental impact.

Charging the Global North for the ecological damage it has caused the Global South could be the best way to reach climate justice.

True Corporate Footprint

NOTED: US companies cause over $2.2 trillion in environmental damage per year.

The Global North’s Ecological Debt

NOTED: Tropical forests in the Global South absorb the Global North’s carbon—a service worth an estimated $75 billion. | 9

Š Rachel Carter


The land answers me: I never complain to you when you dig me. I always want to take care of you, my child.

Š Mikkel Ostergaard

NIPA Nandita

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Introducing a new department where we ask the women of the world to write their personal stories on a unique theme. Our first theme is Land and more than 100 women from over 35 countries responded to the call. Here are a few of our favorites.


A Road Is a Scar That Takes You Somewhere Land to me means a gravel road beneath my childhood feet, seashells and debris where houses once stood, and an ever-deepening realization that what we love must be cared for, not possessed. My family was, is, a phenomenon disappearing from American life—the extended clan of grandmothers, parents, ancient aunts, wandering uncles, overflowing cousins all living on one shared parcel of land, six generations running. Our land touched the grey Gulf of Mexico, hugging each side of a bayou, bordered by thin pine glades to the east and west. I only realized how well I knew those geographic contours the day I saw a satellite image, hours after Hurricane Katrina tore through, and recognized just where that bayou wound, bordered now by concrete slabs and broken tree trunks. I was far away when it happened, but later I dug with my father through the sand where our house had been. I found a seashell: a fragile, unmistakable token of the ocean’s incontestable claim upon what I had loved. Four years later, my family still lives in the same community, but not on that land so familiar to my feet. We are learning what it is to remain rooted even in the absence of security. We have been given the knowledge, bitter and joyful, that what matters is how we care for the people beside us today and the earth upon which we stand right now, that our claims are short-lived but our responsibility immense. Anais Tuepker | USA

The Land Calling Me Back Once upon a time I would walk down the streets of the former Republic of Yugoslavia. That is where I was born, that is where I lived until the age of 12. I do not live there anymore. I became a refugee because of the political persecution of Kosovo

Albanians. Now I live in Sweden. What does Sweden mean to me? The answer is everything. I have found my home here, a place where I belong. But the shadows of my past keep haunting me. Sometimes at night I hear voices calling me back. They are forcing me to remember. I remember the fear, the darkness, the shadows of the enemies dressed as militants with their weapons in hand. I also remember how the green grass turned to black; how the trees had fallen;

where I was born turn me into a prisoner? I will tell you why: Because there was a leader who did not care about the children, women, minorities, the weak. He did not care that the only way for a child to survive was to become a refugee. That is what I did. I moved to Sweden, and now, so many years later I am finally free. I had to forgive in order to survive but I will not forget. It is exactly those memories of Kosovo’s streets that make me go on, that make me speak out. Drita Bajrami | Kosovo and Sweden

The Green, Black, and Red of My Land My land was green with the pregnant corncobs bent under the weight of birth. Green with the tea bushes that come together in a village baraza, the soft rustle in their leaves passing on a whispered message. We live off the land, we eat from the land, but we no longer treat her with the sanctity and respect she deserves. We take, take, and take some more. We want to own as much as we can. We want to conquer the land for ourselves. We keep taking. So much so that sometimes my land turned brown, with the merciless heat from the sun painting the hot ground brown for as far as the eyes could see. We always saw the brown creeping up onto the once lush fields, but we knew it would always come to pass, and when the rains finally came, the shy green of sprouting Napier would eventually turn the hills a deep, deep green. Green, brown, green, brown, we came to accept this as the harsh circle of life. But when she turned bright red, awash with innocent blood as the self-proclaimed kings of the

I remember how the green grass turned to black; how the trees had fallen; how the stars became the only source of light in my heart. Drita Bajrami

how the stars became the only source of light in my heart; how my neighbors stared at me, at my family. Why did the country where I was born turn into a grave? Why did it take away my childhood? Why did it make me grow up too fast, when all I wanted was to walk down the streets and see the green grass—to watch the trees growing, see the sun, and admire the moon? Why did the country

land turned us against each other, we knew. We knew the sacred cycle of greens and browns had been broken. A bungled election, an angry people, ashes to ashes, an eye for an eye, a limb, a head, a young man’s life cut off way too soon. And for the first time, because of our greed, the land bled. Diana Mugumira Ngaira | Kenya | 11

After my father’s death, my brothers made the decision to divide our family’s land between themselves, leaving me out. I wrote a letter to my brothers to tell them that I wanted to have an equal share of the land; they didn’t reply. After some time I gave them a legal notice and then filed a case in court under the provisions of the inheritance law. It was 1994 and it took five years for the court to decide in my favor. My brothers defied the court’s decision with the connivance of the patriarchal village council. I phoned the secretary to the Chief Minister in Bhopal giving details of my land case, and he ordered the magistrate to see that the land was given to me. I was alone in this process and everyone opposed me. Finally, the village council members gathered and told my brothers that if they obstructed the division of land, then they would be taken into police custody. I got my share of the land in the presence of the officials and police. This was the first time that a woman in my community had fought and won a share of the ancestral land. Subhadra Khaperde | India

Their Only Crime I was barely 4 years old when I saw the dead man. Two thin feet stuck out from beneath a pile of newspapers, coated with mud from the black and fertile soil of my hometown. I could not see his face, only his faded and patched pants. I buried that memory deep in my mind until almost 50 years later, when it came flooding back. I searched for answers. The town’s unofficial historians, women in their late 70s and early 80s, sighed and said, “The dead man was a rebel. He was a Huk killed by government forces assigned to our town to prevent insurgents from taking over and to guard

When we dance, we mark out the shape of Cambodia’s land spirit through our choreography. Moeun bun thy

History repeats itself. Fifty years later I am talking to an angry young man, a sharecropper at another coconut hacienda. His father lost his life at the hands of armed men allied with local landowners. His wife and son are now in danger of losing theirs. Their only crime was to ask that the law on land reform be implemented. This time I am not 4 years old. This time I understand. Violeta de guzman | Philippines

Land Dancing I was uprooted six times by the time I was 9 years old. After surviving the genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, I eventually ended up in a refugee camp in neighboring Thailand where I spent the bulk of my youth. There, I focused most of my waking hours, when I wasn’t hauling water or rice for my family, on studying and performing Cambodia’s classical dance. The dance helped me create a feeling of beauty and hope out of chaos and danger. I was stateless; my family had no land that was our own. But I was connected to the land and people of Cambodia through dancing. You know, when we dance, we mark out the shape of Cambodia’s land spirit through our choreography. When peace was declared, I was repatriated to Cambodia as part of an official dance troupe whose members were given land all together. Then that land was sold off for someone’s profit and we were again homeless, displaced in our own country.

My Golden Bangle When I hear the word land I start to think about a green paddy field in a tiny village of Chittagong in my country, Bangladesh. I see the drops of sweat that mix with the soil when a farmer cultivates the land. It does not belong to him, but still he loves it. The land is full of food and it helps my father financially. It provides my mother with meals for her children. It hugs and carries me when I sleep, when I walk. Once, my father explained to me that I am Bangladeshi because of the land I stand on. I feel proud of my homeland and my heart sings, “O my golden Bangle, I love you.” I ask of the paddy field: Please, I need peace! Please, Land, do not take away my brothers; do not give us war. The land answers me: I never complain to you when you dig me. I always want to take care of you, my child. Nipa nandita | Bangladesh

I got my share of the land in the presence of the officials and police. Subhadra khaperde

the hacienda.” The hacienda, rich with coconut trees, pineapples, and coffee trees, was owned by one of the richest men in the country. But what did I know of the scourge of landlessness, of hunger for land? I was the granddaughter of the hacienda cashier and daughter of the town doctor. I went to school in leather shoes while other students wore wooden clogs or went barefoot. I was privileged and ignorant.

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I now have three children. A few years ago I found the courage to leave an abusive husband. Each of my sons has to live with a different relative since I can’t afford a place for us. Because of the physical abuse I suffered, I can no longer dance; I can no longer connect with the spirit of the land through movement. But one of my sons is dancing. He will bring that connection back. Moeun bun thy | Cambodia

Next Topic:

Holding Hands

© Anantha Vardhan |

Winning My Share

How to Submit: Visit for a chance to have your personal story featured in World Pulse Magazine!

The World Pulse Ecosystem of







Our Editorial Cycle of Empowerment is Changing Lives

World Pulse has developed a unique editorial cycle of empowerment designed to lift women’s voices from the ground and make connections that change women’s lives. Every woman has a voice on PulseWire, the online sanctuary of New ideas, breaking news, and solutions rise from the ground up via Internet cafes and cell phones in rural villages. Our editors are always on the site looking for fresh stories to publish and highlight. When a story is featured in World Pulse Magazine, readers can often connect directly with the leaders and organizations on our site. The result has been waves of change. Connections made through World Pulse have led to the creation of mobile clinics, women’s cyber cafes, village solar lighting projects, and lasting friendships across borders. Speak out on PulseWire! Read the magazine and take action. Where will the pulse take you? | 13

Woman to Watch

5 Questions for Noha Atef

For Egyptian blogger Noha Atef, social media has become a powerful weapon against government-sanctioned torture.

© David Sasaki


oha Atef is like most 25 year olds who have grown up in the age of social media. She starts most mornings by logging into Facebook or Twitter, communicates throughout the day with her friends via text messages, and wraps up her evenings by updating her website. But her online life has garnered international attention for a big reason: Her blog, Torture in Egypt, has amassed a virtual database of evidence against Egypt’s police and security forces. The first-hand reports,

videos, photos, and articles Atef has gathered paint a sweeping landscape of brutality, censorship, and human rights abuses across her country.

parents asked me to stop for a while, so I did. But I had to take it back up again. Today, my parents don’t discuss the subject.

Since 2006, you’ve used your blog to report on human rights violations. Have you seen results?

Many of the abuses you have helped bring to light were committed against bloggers and journalists like yourself. How does this affect you?

Yes! Torture in Egypt provoked a public talk on torture crimes in my country—a previously unmentionable subject. My blog has put pressure on Egypt’s regime, which, like most Arab regimes, carefully controls its image to the West. But most importantly, my work has inspired spin-offs in countries abroad; there’s a blog called Torture in Uganda, for example. Some torture victims have even started their own blogs after reading mine.

How did you become aware of the human rights situation in Egypt? My interest came in 2004 when I read the Arabic Network for Human Rights website and attended some of the events they had publicized. The Egyptian public still considered human rights a luxury reserved for those in westernized countries. A couple years later, I read a collection

I know that the police could fabricate an accusation against me and send me to jail or hijack me from the street. But I don’t expect that to happen. Still, I’d willingly face injustice if that is what it will take for justice to prevail.

Human rights abuses are not new, but some of the technologies you are using to expose them are. How do you think the increasing availability of Internet access will change activism? Increasing access—especially now with mobile phones—means that almost every person has a great tool for activism in her pocket. With a cell phone, anyone can document a human

Now with mobile phones, almost every person has a great tool for activism in her pocket. NOHA ATEf


of testimonies of women who were subjected to torture and sexual violence. These women weren’t even accused of anything; it was their husbands, sons, or even grandsons who had been arrested. This report was quite shocking to me and inspired me to start digging deeper.

Greece Syria Israel





Saudi Arabia

How has your family and your community reacted to your work? In the beginning, my family did not welcome my activism since it’s dangerous in Egypt to be the enemy of even one police officer. I’ve made an enemy of the whole Ministry of Interior. My dad used to receive threatening phone calls telling him I’d be raped or disappeared. He was even summoned by State Security. Afterwards, my

rights abuse and spread the word, or receive information about the status of human rights in her community. Five years ago Egyptians didn’t believe that torture was their government’s policy. Now, with mobile videos, they’ve seen it for themselves. And maybe they’ve even filmed it and uploaded it to YouTube. ●

RESOURCECENTER Visit Noha Atef’s groundbreaking blog at Connect with Noha Atef on PulseWire!

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Visionary Leaders

The Next Green Frontier

For Women for Women International founder and CEO Zainab Salbi, the green revolution starts with women. By Zainab Salbi

oday we are facing a global food, nutrition, and climate crisis. Over the past few years, nearly 100 million people have been added to the global count of chronically hungry worldwide. Food prices have jumped almost 80%, pushing thousands of families on the brink into poverty and hunger. Environmentally damaging agricultural practices such as deforestation compound the CO2 emissions that are causing greenhouse effects. Chemically enhanced fertilizers contaminate the ground and strip the Earth of necessary nutrients. We cannot build sustainable democracies, economies, or solutions for climate change and food shortages if we do not fully incorporate women in policy responses. There isn’t a better story to illustrate the disconnect between the reality of women and the theory of policy than this food crisis and the agricultural strategies that aim to address it. In our agricultural policy, we fail to consider issues like nutrition and food security, climate change, and the significant but often unrecognized fact that 70% of the world’s farmers are women. Women produce 90% of the staple food crops, such as rice and maize—the crops that feed the world. Women also prepare these crops for

but own less than 2% of the land, it becomes an issue of economic as well as gender justice. Women have the right to enjoy the profits of their labor and the peace of mind of knowing their daughters can inherit the land they farm. Women have the right to eat a full and balanced meal and to work in an environment not poisoned by toxic chemicals. And we have the ability to realize this vision. There are several programs underway that can jump start the revolution. For example, at Women for Women, we’re teaching women sustainable farming techniques that maximize profit and nutritional value while supporting environmental preservation, community agricultural, and economic development. Women learn to farm a diversity of crops for household consumption and higher profits, at the same time as they are equipped with techniques that enhance the ecological balance of natural ecosystems. In Rwanda, where land is at a premium, and in land-rich Sudan, in partnership with local government, we have secured a long-term land lease that enables women to control the land they farm and access the highest returns on their labor. Women in South Sudan are on track to earn double the per-capita GDP after only six months. Also in Rwanda, women learn to construct vertical

The time has come to make agricultural and environmental policy reflective of those most impacted by it. Zainab Salbi

household and community consumption, eating last or not at all when food is scarce. And women do the majority of tasks that involve close proximity to the environment, such as farming and fetching water, and hence shoulder a disproportionate amount of the danger associated with pollution and climate change. Women’s agricultural empowerment is the next frontier for the global women’s movement. When women produce the majority of the world’s food

kitchen gardens, which maximize soil efficiency and make a significant impact on household nutritional security. Women farmers turn grain bags, tires, and other household items into vertical planters and use their livestock’s natural animal waste for fertilizer. In my work with women farmers, I have seen that, as in so many other sectors, women are the key to our success in agriculture and environmental policy. Women are integrating environmentally

friendly practices into agriculture production. They are cultivating the crops that will combat food and nutrition crises and stimulate local markets in the time of economic crisis. I’ve heard much talk about a green revolution, but rarely are women’s voices taken into account in our conceptions of it. The time has come to make those voices heard, to make agricultural and environmental policy reflective of those who are most impacted by it. The green revolution is a women’s revolution. ● ZAINAB SALBI is the founder and CEO of Women

for Women International, an organization that provides financial and emotional support to women survivors of war. Visit Women for Women at

CHECK OUT A NEW ONLINE COLUMN on featuring visionary leaders Kavita Ramdas of Global Fund for Women, Ritu Sharma of Women Thrive Worldwide, Helene Gayle of CARE, and Geeta Rao Gupta of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. | 15



For eco-home icon Paulette Cole, business is all about social responsibility. by Alena Butal

The store is like a sculpture. It’s a process. It’s live. PAULette COLE

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hen it comes to floor plans, Paulette Cole laughs: “When we’re ready for a change, we just start pushing things.” “I’ve never had a plan,” says Cole, CEO and creative director of ABC Carpet and Home, the New York retail store that has become iconic for its sustainable home furnishings and eclectic design. “I am so impulsive, so passionate about what I do that I just do it. The store is like a sculpture. It’s a process. It’s live.” It’s hard to believe that ABC Home’s transformation from mom-and-pop carpet shop to high-end Manhattan retail experience didn’t come from years of careful charting and planning, but when you meet Cole, it becomes obvious that it couldn’t have happened any other way. For Cole, diversity, fusion, impermanence, and spontaneity reign, just as they do in natural ecosystems. She likens her store, and the community surrounding it, to a raw, organic food bar. “We’re not preserving. We’re constantly breathing new air. We are channeling what we are feeling, and there is a constant evolution.” It is a creative philosophy that has served Cole and her business well. Over two decades, she’s taken her greatgrandfather’s carpet shop, which first opened its doors in 1897, and turned it into a sustainable design Mecca, attracting high-end customers who are continuously in awe of the store’s museum-like displays. But more than that, her business has started a revolution in the interior design world by seamlessly blending the principles of home decorating with the ethics of socially responsible business. Widely acclaimed for its commitment to renewable and environmentally friendly practices, ABC Home sells more than 650 pieces of “good,” or sustainably and ethically produced, wood furniture alone. Increasingly, Cole is casting her net globally, sourcing products ethically from India, Africa, and Asia, often from women’s collectives

and fair-trade markets. She hopes someday that 100% of her products will be responsibly sourced. It’s a big goal—one that she recognizes ABC Home may never meet. Still, social responsibility is at the heart of ABC’s business plan. In 2009, Time magazine named Cole one of the world’s top executives in pioneering sustainable design. Today, ABC runs the ABC Home and Planet Foundation, which funds organizations that promise to uphold beauty and sustainability, and has connections with organizations like the Green Belt Movement and Forest Ethics. And the vision is growing. Even though she has long been environmentally aware, it was the life-altering experience of pregnancy and motherhood that launched Cole as an early driver of the sustainability movement. “I had three children, two of whom died in infancy. My first-born baby died in 1990 when he was three months old. He had a very rare disease that was not diagnosed. At that time I became devastatingly aware of the dangers in our environment. I couldn’t stop wondering, ‘Was it the water; was it where I lived; what could have happened?’ And still, I knew that he had been born for an important reason.” It was then that Cole made the commitment to make ABC Home—which at that time was a joint venture between herself and her former husband—into a socially accountable business. “First and foremost I was a mother; it was the only thing I knew. ABC was growing so quickly and my husband and I were working so hard, but I knew we needed to diversify and bring in ecologically sustainable products, healing, spirituality, and eastern influences. It was a turning point when I realized that everything you place in your body and your surroundings is also nurturing your children.” The transition wasn’t easy. In the beginning, her employees thought her vision was intimidating, and her husband had a hard time reconciling his

© Jade Frank


Traveling made me realize that business is about evolution. PAULette COLE

Paulette Cole’s New York store ABC Carpet and Home was an early driver of the sustainability movement. Today, her store sells more than 650 pieces of “good,” or sustainably and ethically produced wood furniture. Many of her products are sourced from women’s collectives and fair-trade markets, while her foundation supports dozens of organizations around the world.

big business goals with the costly model of sustainability. Ultimately, the fissure proved insurmountable, and Cole and her husband divorced. Cole left the business briefly to travel with her young daughter while her now exhusband took control of the company. But instead of serving to distance herself from the family business, Cole found that traveling to places like Mexico, Peru, and Morocco and working with environmentalists and anti-poverty groups around the world reinvigorated her desire to redefine ABC’s business model. “Travel has been my university. It’s been my interactive education,” she says. “I feel like

when I arrive in a country, everywhere I go I fall passionately in love. My eclectic vibe comes from experiencing the world around me fully and spiritually. It’s exciting and a privilege to be continuously inspired. Traveling made me realize that business is about evolution.” She returned to the US, and purchased her ex-husband’s shares in the company. It was 2004, and Cole found herself free to execute her dream of making ABC into a business with a mission. Ever since, ABC Home has made a name for itself in the world of green business. “We’ve become more than a store, we’re a platform for all of these important causes,” she

says. For Cole, the convergence of these causes— progressive, entrepreneurial, and environmental— is causing a huge planetary shift. “We are living in amazing times. All the dots are becoming connected and people are shifting the way the world operates. Now it feels like we’re actually getting strong enough to become a critical mass.” ●

RESOURCECENTER Find out more about ABC Carpet and Home’s foundation at | 17

Truth & Consequences in the Caucasus

Despite the assassinations of many of her colleagues, Russia’s award-winning investigative journalist Elena Milashina forges into dangerous territory in search of justice. Translated by Maria Jett

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her articles to find her most important works. But Anna didn’t write anything unimportant. She wrote about people’s pain and grief, while ruthlessly criticizing Russian and Chechen authorities for their policies and actions. In total, Anna wrote 500 articles for Novaya Gazeta. And that’s why she was killed. Not long before her death, Anna told me that she would soon be a grandmother, and that she would soon be pulling back from her work because “grandchildren make life worth living.” But she never met her first grandchild, who was born in February 2007 and who bore her name. After her murder, I picked up where Anna left off and began traveling to Chechnya. At first I went on editorial assignments, but soon, after Novaya Gazeta deemed it too dangerous to assign journalists to the region, I went on my own accord. Despite the threats, I couldn’t stop myself; it had become a matter of principle. In July of 2009, without telling anyone about my trip, I traveled to Chechnya to investigate reports of extrajudicial killings with my friend, human rights activist Natasha Estemirova. I will never forget my last conversation with her. It was the evening of July 13, just hours before I boarded a plane to return to Moscow. Deep into the night we discussed the situation in Chechnya and the Northern Caucasus. At the end of the conversation, I told Natasha that the situation in Chechnya had become extraordinarily dangerous. “You need to leave,” I told her. “You have to stop for a while and take care of your 15-year-old daughter.” I recall that one of us even joked that it would be a shame if she were killed before she had the chance to write a book about Chechnya. I departed for Moscow on July 14, while Natasha stayed behind. On July 15 Natasha was abducted and killed. It has been nine months since Natasha’s murder.






There is no doubt she was killed for exposing abuses by law enforcement and security agencies in Chechnya. We know who shot her, and who issued the order. The investigating officers know, too. But her killers are under the protection of the Kremlin and are untouchable. It is the same with Anna Politkovskaya’s case. After more than three years, no one has been punished. People often ask me if it frightens me to do what I do, after so many of my friends and colleagues have been killed. Yes, I am afraid, but not for my own life. I intend to continue my work in Chechnya and the Northern Caucasus region. I’m more afraid of the consequences of not exposing the truth than I am of dying. I remember how the world reacted to Anna’s murder. International leaders demanded that Russian authorities find and punish the guilty. International organizations declared the murder of a journalist an unacceptable abuse. People around the world took to the streets in memory of the fearless woman who was brutally murdered for doing her job. And yet, what has changed? If anything, things are worse.

© Novaya Gazeta

clearly remember the day I learned that my friend and coworker, Anna Politkovskaya, had been murdered. I was in my office working on the upcoming issue of Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s most prominent independent newspaper. At 6pm Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov announced that Anna had been shot one hour before. The news was shocking, and yet absolutely predictable. Like many of us at Novaya Gazeta, Anna had balanced on the borders of life and death for a very long time—so long that we had grown accustomed to the threat of her death. It was October 7, 2006. Anna, who was then Russia’s most famed journalist, was assassinated outside her apartment. It was a contract killing, and we all understood why it had happened; authorities in both Russia and Chechnya, threatened by our paper’s investigative and critical reporting, had declared journalists at Novaya Gazeta their enemies. Anna was at the top of that list. She was one of only a few who continued to report on Chechnya, that problematic region where two wars for independence ended in the most severe totalitarian regime ever established and blessed by Moscow. By 2006, most journalists had simply stopped going to Chechnya, instead writing fables about the supposed stability Moscow forces had achieved in the region. But Anna would not back down. She wrote of the torture, abductions, and killings of innocent civilians at the hands of Russian and Chechen authorities, actions that have still gone unpunished. But she also dared to report that Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov and Russia’s Vladimir Putin were personally responsible for these unimaginable human rights abuses. The night I learned of Anna’s death, I stayed up all night and thumbed through the archives of Novaya Gazeta, going back to 1999 when Anna started working for the paper. I searched through


People often ask me if it frightens me to do what I do, after so many of my friends have been killed. Yes, I am afraid. But not for my own life. After Anna’s death, a new time of killing began in my country. Human rights activists and journalists are murdered in Russia with such frequency that news of the next victim no longer excites the world. In the last year alone six activists, political dissidents, and journalists were murdered. All of them worked toward a common goal: to hold Russian security forces accountable for the unlawful murder of civilians in the Northern Caucasus. I knew all six victims. Three of them were my friends. I know that none of these murders will be investigated. This does not trouble or shame the Russian authorities. On the contrary, they encourage assassins by giving them government jobs

and granting them legal immunity. It remains that journalists and human rights activists who still dare to speak the truth are a headache for the Russian authorities. They look to the strongest medicine available to escape accepting responsibility: assassination. A medicine like that is addictive. The Russian authorities are hooked on it. But still the world is silent. And the silence scares me more than anything else. ● Elena Milashina is a leading investigative reporter for Novaya Gazeta and is based in Moscow, Russia. In 2009, she won the Human Rights Watch Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism.

Conflict at a glance Chechyna: One of the most dangerous places in the world Heavily oppressed during Soviet rule, the people of Chechnya seized upon the Soviet Union’s dissolution to declare their independence in 1991. Rich in oil and other natural resources, Chechnya has struggled with Russia over its sovereignty ever since. The first war with Russia began in 1994 and killed 100,000 people over two years, setting off a second war in 1999. Throughout the conflict, Chechen rebels have been accused of terrorism, the Russian government of brutal tactics of repression, and Chechnya’s leader of crimes against his own people. While full-fledged warfare has subsided, an official peace is marred by torture, extrajudicial killings, stifled press freedoms, and a culture of fear.

Connect with Elena Milashina on PulseWire! | 19

The High Stakes of

Women are the farmers of the world. Now their right to own land is being recognized as the key for ending global hunger.

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© Josh Fredman | RDI

by Rhyen Coombs


ive years ago, Sushmita Pallam worked in the fields alongside her husband in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The work was seasonal, the fields were not theirs, and the rice gruel they could afford gave her stomach infections.

“Even on days when I was sick, I used to go to work to feed my family,” she remembers, but it was never enough. She came home to her hungry children and husband’s abuse, and fell asleep dreaming of festivals with good rice. But today, at age 30, Sushmita sends her children to school. She serves milk, meat, and the best rice at her table. And she stands beside a husband who no longer beats her. “After 10 long years of humiliation and disrespect, I have attained a new status in my family and in the village,” she says. “It is the reason for my pride and confidence.” The difference? A small piece of land—not quite an acre—staked out in Sushmita’s name. Today, while women make up over half the world’s population and produce over half its food, they own less than 2% of its land. While development experts recommend agriculture as one of the fastest advancements out of poverty for Africa, women in many countries like Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Zimbabwe rarely control the profits from their crops, though they make up 80% of the farmers. Discriminatory inheritance practices prevent daughters from receiving their share of family land across Central and South Asia, and allow the newly widowed in southern Africa to be removed from their property, bereft of both husband and home. Without the economic security and decision-making power of property tenure, women are marginalized, leaving them vulnerable to violence, malnutrition, and discrimination. But around the world, women’s land rights advocates are taking action at both the policy and grassroots level. Backed by international human rights principles, they assert women’s equal right to land, property, housing, and inheritance. Recent legislation in Uganda gives women secure tenure over family lands, and the Moroccan civil code now authorizes joint property ownership within marriage. In Namibia, the Communal Land Reform Act of 2002 guaranteed that district land management includes women. In Brazil, the city of São Paulo recognized women’s right to shelter,

giving them priority for public housing in 2004. Still, despite these signs of progress, the continuing challenge lies in education, as new policies are easier to enact than enforce. Women are often unaware of their rights, local customs contradict the letter of the law, and attitudes are slow to change. Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have adopted gender amendments to their property laws, for example, but traditional practices still limit women’s land ownership. But the stakes for change are high. Research repeatedly demonstrates that when women gain control over land, they also gain control over their circumstances. Property rights can enable female farmers to produce better crops, widows to avoid eviction, girls to escape domestic violence and HIV-stigma, and women worldwide to devote more resources to the well-being of their family and ultimately their society. “If we’re going to address poverty and hunger, we have to talk about women’s land rights,” said Renee Giovarelli, a women’s property rights lawyer with the Rural Development Institute (RDI) in Seattle. “Women who have access to land spend the income from that on their children, on nutrition, and on education. We have to think in terms of making sure women have secure rights to the land.”

microfinance was in about 20 years ago,” said Radha Friedman, RDI communications director. The idea of microfinance emerged in Bangladesh under the vision of Muhammad Yunus as a way to provide very small loans to women and spur entrepreneurship. “It’s because people took a look at what an incredible and transformative difference it could make in the lives of women and their families that it rose to the household concept it is today,” Freidman explained. “We see that same kind of potential for women’s land rights.” That potential is growing. On October 15, 2009, the International Day for Rural Women, RDI announced the launch of the Global Center for Women’s Land Rights. It is the first attempt to bring together women working on property rights, aggregating their resources and research while providing space to share strategies and solutions. Major donors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network, and the Nike Foundation, have committed their support. “Girls are the farmers of the future. Give her land rights, and other critical things fall in place,” says Maria Eitel, president of the Nike Foundation, which made the first funding grant. According to Giovarelli, who directs the new center, this support marks a major turning point for the movement. Foundations have been reluctant to fund land rights research in the past, as the work on the ground is laborious. Legal advocates and researchers travel from house to house in rural areas, where customs and knowledge about property rights vary dramatically. “It’s difficult to know what women’s needs are without asking them directly, and that requires lots of time and money,” she said.

This whole land movement is in the same place that microfinance was in about 20 years ago. Radha friedman, Rural Development Institute

Today, groups like RDI are launching new initiatives to not only increase awareness about the importance of land, but also place that land directly in women’s hands. Leading organizations from the Clinton Global Initiative to major foundations are heralding secure property rights for women as the next major key to development and growth. “This whole movement is in the same place that

Nike is now backing a three-month feasibility study for a project in West Bengal that would direct land rights specifically toward girls. If approved, RDI will work with the Indian government to encourage families without sons to provide land to their daughters as dowries, rather than more traditional resources to the husband’s family. This would empower women with an economic asset | 21

I draw strength from the land I own... My land has earned me and my family a life of dignity and opportunity.

© Brent Stirton

Sushmita pallam

from the beginning of their marriage. The new program would build on an existing partnership with several Indian states to secure land rights for the rural poor by helping them purchase small areas of land, called “micro-plots.” Since 2004 in Andhra Pradesh alone, 5,303 women have successfully managed 4,539 acres to start small farms, build homes, increase their incomes, and improve the health and well-being of their families. Despite these promising innovations, the land rights movement faces a challenging knowledge deficit. Current, accurate information about land legislation and local customary law is difficult to track down, and clear career paths don’t exist for those who want to get involved. To address these problems, the Global Center for Women’s Land Rights will offer training and fellowships to qualified professionals. Finally, aiming to bridge the distance between advocates working alone in academia and small villages, the center will host an online library. By gathering global property laws and practices and translating them into multiple languages, the community will then have access to their collective work and experience. Leonida Odongo expects the e-library to

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become a valuable tool for her organization, Ebony Youth and Orphans Support Initiative, which holds workshops on inheritance rights for widows in rural Kenya. “It would be a good opportunity to have reference materials from around the world, to get to know what is working where, and pick the best practices and replicate them!” RDI plans to launch the e-library in the next year, but it is an enormous undertaking. “We’re talking about gathering laws on women’s property rights from every country in the world,” Giovarelli said. “What we’re hoping is that someone from the Uganda Land Alliance, for example, could go to the e-library and ask, ‘How have you effectively dealt with the issue of polygamy and women’s land rights?’ Then other people who may have done something successful in their community could write in and say, okay, we tried this and it worked, and here’s what didn’t work.” In Uganda, women account for approximately three out of four agricultural workers, but they control a mere fraction of the land, according to a 2008 report by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). Even though the Ugandan constitution gives all citizens the right to own property, women rarely claim land of

their own, instead farming the fields of their fathers, husbands, or brothers. Krista Jacobs, an ICRW economist specializing in land rights, attributes this inequity largely to Uganda’s dual legal system, which upholds both government and customary laws about land. Since formal courts are expensive and far away, and customary laws are rarely written down, a woman’s right to land is often ambiguous, arbitrary, or simply unknown. “Lack of knowledge about rights and the law is pervasive at every level, all the way from women and men in the village to local government officials, traditional leaders, and even judges and lawyers in the formal legal system,” said Jacobs, who is working with the Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) to change that. “While on the one hand, you have this incredible vacuum of knowledge, you also have a great opportunity.” Together, ICRW and the ULA have developed a model to fill that vacuum. The program offers basic training in property law and land rights to respected women in their communities, equipping them with the skills and resources to advise others. These paralegals now form a valuable network across Uganda, acting as both educators and legal advocates in rural areas that otherwise would have none. Now, if a woman’s husband dies and she faces eviction, she can turn to a local paralegal for help. Jane Nabunnya is one of those paralegals. Since 2001, the 43-year-old mother of two has served the Luwero district in Central Uganda as a passionate volunteer. “I introduce myself in churches, in schools, in the marketplace. They know me very, very well!” Recently, a widow contacted her, alarmed that her neighbors had kicked her out of her house and blocked the road leading to it. According to formal Ugandan law, a widow has a right to her deceased husband’s property. Nabunnya agreed to help the widow. Together, they approached the town council of Wobulenzi, a parish in Luwero, and explained the situation. Elected to the council herself in 2002, Nabunnya has become one of the region’s most respected and influential paralegals. They left with a letter from the town engineer instructing the widow’s neighbors to clear five feet on either side of the road to her house. “I explained to them that I was trained by the Uganda Land Alliance, and gave them copies of the letter. They all agreed to unblock the road, and it was successful.” Nabunnya estimates that she has helped over 3,000 women, both through the courts and educational workshops. Her greatest challenge, however, is transportation. “I am only one paralegal, and it is a very big area. We have five parishes, which includes 28 villages,” she said. “Sometimes a client will call my house and say, ‘I have a problem, can you come?’ So I hire a

motorcycle, or go on foot. But often, it is far— very, very far.” A motorcycle of her own would help Nabunnya to reach women facing eviction much faster. For Odongo, witnessing land empower women in Kenya is what gives her work meaning. Like Nabunnya, she offers paralegal advice on property rights to women in her community, many of whom have been forcibly evicted from their property after losing their husbands to HIV/AIDS. These widows and their children, often illiterate and HIVpositive themselves, face strong stigmatization and poverty. Fighting for their land under Kenyan law can restore not only their home but also their sense of power. “What motivates me is the ability to inspire women to take charge of their own lives,” Odongo says. “Hearing a widow say, ‘Since I was born, I have never felt so capable of striving to change my situation’ is so great. It feels good to have women change from apathy to capability.” But not every woman can take charge of her life by holding onto a home she’s already built or claiming a share of the land her family owns. For some women, taking charge means staking an entirely new claim on land she didn’t know she could afford.

Sushmita Pallam first heard about micro-plots in 2004 at a women’s group meeting in her village of Alaganipadu. That year, RDI had partnered with Indira Kranthi Patham, a network of village self-help organizations like Sushmita’s, to help rural women in Andhra Pradesh purchase land for the first time by negotiating market rates with local sellers. Although her husband would often drag her out of these meetings, Sushmita was excited by the idea. “I and other landless women in my village applied collectively for a loan to buy a plot of land,” she recalls. “With the help of our village organization, we negotiated with the sellers and split the land parcels among ourselves.” On her nine-tenths of an acre, Sushmita grew two crops and purchased two buffalo. She repaid her loan of Rs. 10,000, or $214 USD, in only 10 installments, and has been able to save Rs. 7000 each year since. With her profits, Sushmita sent her children to government schools, rebuilt her small house to accommodate her extended family, and purchased modern appliances, including a cell phone and bicycle. But, she says, these things pale in comparison to the respect she has earned from her family and neighbors. Now, she is confident in her

ability to not only purchase more land, but help others do so as well. “I draw strength from the land I own!” Sushmita said. “This piece of land has turned the tide. From a life of poverty and social disrespect, my land has earned me and my family a life of dignity and opportunity.” This confidence, says Giovarelli, is at the heart of empowering women. “Not only do land rights help women to reduce poverty, HIV/AIDS rates, and domestic violence, but they give women a voice and a stake in their community. When women have land, they feel much more powerful.” ●

RESOURCECENTER Learn more about RDI’s new initiative at Join the dialogue about land rights and connect with Leonida and RDI on PulseWire!

no landfill necessary. When you consider that 50 million disposable diapers enter the landfill every day and each one takes about 500 years to breakdown, a baby’s footprint can be huge. With gCloth and gRefills you have two landfill-free diapering options that go easy on the planet. | 23

Jane Goodall

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It is time for women to band together, take the power, and heal the Earth.

© L.J. Westrum


Across the globe, networks of women are responding to the anguish of the Earth. They are urgently mapping a new course to restore our planet’s life support systems before it’s too late.

© Shehzad Noorani


hink of an environmental leader and you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking of Al Gore. Think of a “women’s agenda” and the first things that spring to mind are likely economic empowerment, reproductive rights, and ending gender-based violence. That may be changing. Increasingly, women are at the forefront of the environmental movement. In almost every nation, women are the primary stewards of natural resources. Whether it is securing food, fuel, or clean water, they are on the frontlines of ecological collapse. Yet women have a clear stake in implementing solutions on the ground, educating children in sustainability, and championing an alternate future. Listening to and supporting these natural leaders may be the greatest hope for the environmental movement. World Pulse sat down with these ecological leaders—from well-known experts to grassroots women on the ground—to talk about everything from the major challenges impacting women’s efforts to some of the most promising signs for solving some of the urgent issues afflicting our planet. | 25

natural Spokeswomen Experts say women are poised to lead the global environmental movement, but there are barriers that must be overcome.

Dr. Vandana Shiva

Many women identify healthcare issues as more pressing, but in the long run, we cannot have health if we do not have an environment that supports life.

Ecological degradation and women’s marginalization are intimately connected. They have the same roots in a paradigm that sees nature as dead and women as unproductive. Political, technological, and scientific powers conspire against women who are the main providers of sustenance. This world view is destroying nature, and women have to carry the burden of this destruction. One of the biggest barriers to women’s leadership is the failure of leaders to truly listen to what women are saying. Years ago I studied mining in the Doon Valley. Women were saying that mining was destroying their water, but the government heard that mining was making their hills appear ugly. In response, they literally painted the mountain slopes green instead of protecting and restoring water supplies.

If you define the women’s movement from the ground up, it has to be ecological. Vandana Shiva

We must begin to really listen to women on the ground, and to see grassroots women as teachers. This is critical because that’s where the ecological perspectives came from. A large number of women’s organizations are privileged organizations that don’t have an understanding of what it is like when there is no water in the tap. You don’t know the consequences of deforestation until you see forests disappear. My vision is to recognize the many ecological movements that women are leading and to create the context for them to spread and grow. When we give importance to basic survival—water, food, and health—women’s leadership becomes a natural leadership.

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Starhawk © Bert Meijer

© Manfred Werner

Scientist, leading environmental thinker, and author of Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development (India)

Leading climate change activist and author of The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature (US)

I come from a spiritual tradition that says the Earth is sacred. I believe we have to protect the Earth and biodiversity to make sure that every human being has a right and opportunity for a life of health and fulfillment. To me, this is very deeply what spirituality is about. It’s not about protecting our own comfort and meditating. It’s about doing everything you can to ensure that the Earth herself is a place of beauty and wonder and possibility for all of her creatures and all of her children. I would like to see women’s and environmental organizations proactively pushing the issue of climate change forward, making it clear that this is a human rights issue, a women’s issue, and a social justice issue. For example, we can solve many environmental and social justice issues at the same time if we do things like locate green jobs and training programs for people who have the least resources and least access to jobs. And healthcare is a hot topic right now. Many women identify healthcare issues as the most pressing, but in the long run, we cannot have health if we do not have an environment that supports life. We have tremendous solutions available; we simply need them to be put into practice. Solutions like renewable, efficient energies often get framed as these terrible sacrifices, but actually these changes will improve our lives and make great sense for businesses. Too many people in our culture are ecologically illiterate around these issues. Change begins with education.

© AFP Photo | Essam Al-Sudani

A day will come when we have legislation to protect water and forests and the integrity of other species. Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow

Author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water and co-founder of the Blue Planet Project (Canada)

The degradation of women is the mirror of the degradation of the environment. The dominant system is anti-ecological, and powerful institutions are increasingly making important and damaging decisions. I look at the World Water Council and the World Bank as examples; these institutions are making decisions around who has access to water and who doesn’t. They see water as a path to profit and not as an integral part of a living ecosystem, as gifts of nature for humans and other living things. As a woman fighting for environmental sustainability, I find myself constantly having to challenge these institutions. We might be environmental leaders, but we are facing off with leaders who have bigger titles and salaries. In Copenhagen and the World Water Forum, for example, we got locked out of all the decision making. It actually became a bit of an opportunity. When we were locked out of these forums, we ended up creating our own space to promote an alternate vision. We can’t recreate the world from the same consciousness that has

given us unlimited growth, free trade, unregulated investment, privatization, and big corporations that set the terms for everyone else’s lives. It is the voices of women who are challenging this paradigm and saying we have to live differently with a new set of priorities. Women tend to gravitate toward that alternate force for equality, sustainability, and diversity. No one is saying no market, no trade; we are saying we have to come back to more sustainable food production, local industry, protection of our watersheds, and an alternative energy regime. The biggest obstacle to action is the feeling that you’re one little person and a woman at that, so what can you do? When you understand that every action matters, every single thing matters, change becomes possible. When we take an action, we are not alone, and we need to trust that millions of other people are taking actions around the world that are making an impact. Maybe you stop drinking bottled water, or retrofit your house, or write to your member of parliament to say water is a human right—every act you take matters. I know that a day will come when we have legislation to protect water and forests and the integrity of other species. Women are challenging systems of power with a different vision. Many women are saying that they don’t want to be part of these systems. They’re saying, “I want something more egalitarian, more Earth-centered, and more cooperative.” And there are a lot of men who would love to go along with that. ● | 27

The Issues

Talking to Those Most Affected World Pulse spoke with six women who have experienced the dramatic effects of some of the most pressing issues impacting our Earth. Here’s what they had to say.

150 Million environmental refugees will exist in the year 2050. (IPCC) 28 |

© Nick Cobbing


Climate change hits women hardest. Despite having a lower carbon footprint, they have to work harder to keep uprooted, traumatized communities together and to procure energy and food. Yet women are proving to be key catalysts in climate change adaptation, reduction of carbon emissions, and calling world leaders to attention.

Sailing the Waves on Our Own As rising sea levels swallow her homeland, the Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea, Ursula Rakova mobilizes to relocate an entire people.

We paddle our canoes where we once planted our taro.

© Cam Feast

Ursula Rakova

very December is a time of great anxiety for my people. When everyone else looks to gather with their families to celebrate, our anxiety builds as the tides rise. High sea levels destroy our gardens, creating a swampy food crop that threatens our livelihoods. We can clearly see the erosion where the sea is eating at our shorelines. Areas that previously held food gardens are now underwater, and we paddle our canoes where we once planted our taro. Ursula Rakova is leading This past December, as our crops were submerged, world efforts to evacuate the people of the Carteret Islands, off the coast leaders convened at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. They of Papua New Guinea. discussed climate justice and spoke of signing a survival pact, but still nothing is resolved. For us, climate change is not going to wait for meetings to be held and papers to be signed. Where is justice? Will it come when we are floating in the middle of the sea? As Carteret islanders, we must advocate for ourselves. We must adapt and begin the process of relocating to the mainland. We cannot wait. In 2006, I began working with Tulele Peisa, which means “sailing the waves on our own.” It was initiated by the Carterets Council of Elders to look at the voluntary relocation of our people to the mainland of Bougainville. It is a struggle; a lot of elderly people don’t want to move. But younger families want to relocate to secure areas on the mainland. We are concentrating on those who want to move so they can have a future for their children. Climate change means that we must leave our culture, our traditions, our ceremonial sites behind to find safety. We are a matrilineal culture, and it is the women who own the land. We pass our land down to our daughters, and climate change means that our daughters will not have what is theirs. It breaks us. But what can we do? Either we go down with the islands or we make choices to carry on our cultural identity wherever we go. We are helping ourselves while the big nations who are the main polluters argue about targets and percentages. We are a small subsistence community; we do not emit greenhouse gases; we do not even drive vehicles. Even the UN refuses to recognize the Carteret islanders as refugees of climate change. They hide under definitions, calling us a “displaced community.” It’s a way of saying let’s let these people drown. Funding the relocation for the more than 3,000 who call the Carteret Islands home is a struggle for us. Big nations must set aside dollars to finance relocation and resettlement programs initiated by the communities who are most impacted. Talk to your governments, talk to your civil society leaders. The nations who have caused this must be held responsible. ●

Climate change-related weather events claim between two and three times as many female victims. Asian Development Bank

VITALSIGNS The Women Environment and Climate Action Network (WECAN) is embarking on the 18 Months Climate Justice Road Show and Mobilization Tour to involve more African women in the environmental justice and climate action movement.    In late 2009, nearly 2,000 Bangladeshi women workers donned masks representing the world’s leading industrialized nations and called for richer nations to do more to help poorer countries grappling with climate change.   At Copenhagen, leading women formed the Women Leaders for Climate Justice summit. They are setting their sights on Mexico’s late 2010 climate talks.    A network of grassroots women in Asia have unfurled the Asian Women’s Quilt on Climate Change project—a giant collaborative quilt threading together stories of Asian grassroots women affected by climate change.

TakeAction Calculate your personal carbon footprint and find out ways you can adjust your lifestyle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. | 29

The Issues


© Lourdes Segade Botella

Unsanitary water conditions is the greatest public health risk, responsible for 88% of disease, taking more lives than war, terrorism, and HIV/AIDs combined. (The World Bank)

Top Water Scarcity Hotspots: Afghanistan Chad Ethiopia Equatorial Guinea Democratic Republic of the Congo

Percentage of People with Access to Clean Water Sources

<50% 50%-75% 75% - 90% No Data 30 |

*data 2006 from UNICEF/WHO “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation”

As the world’s primary water stewards, women are uniquely positioned to lead us toward a sustainable water future. Globally, women in rural areas spend approximately one-third of their lives fetching water, primarily for cooking, cleaning, and washing. Access to safe, pure, and abundant water may be one of the greatest—and most overlooked—sources of freedom and empowerment for women and their communities.

A Constant Thirst Having spent her girlhood in long lines at the water pump, Dando Mweetwa knows first-hand what must be done in a country where only 58% of the population has access to drinkable water.

My thoughts were always of water. I could talk water, smile water, walk water, and dream water. Dando Mweetwa

lmost every morning my sister would yell, “Wake up Dando! It’s already 4:30! We ought to start off or else we’ll spend two hours in the queue at the well.” I grew up in a land blessed with the largest water resources in all of southern Africa. Zambia is home to massive lakes and plentiful rivers. And with Victoria Falls—some of the largest waterfalls in the Dando Mweetwa grew up in Zambia world—one would think that Zambia would have no problem offering struggling to find fresh water for her family. adequate and safe water to its community. But only 58% of the Zambian population has access to clean drinking water. As a young teen, I lived in a highly populated community. Even in this urban setting, my sister and I would walk long distances in the early mornings to search for water. Most was found in shallow wells that residents had dug. The wells were almost always two to three meters away from a pit-latrine. Many of us were aware of the complications the proximity to these latrines posed, but we had no choice but to take the risk. I would wear a long blue jersey, a chitenge wrapped around my small waist, and black shoes on my feet. During the cold season I would shiver in the long queue for the pump. One person could need to fill three or four buckets, while others filled large drums. Mothers were eager to be first in line so that they could go home early to prepare breakfast and bathe their husbands and children. I had trouble getting to school on time because of my duties. But as a girl, I had to make sure that we had enough water to drink, wash, and bathe. Many dig wells in their yards, which provide water and a small source of income, since they sell it to their communities for a small fee. But underground the well water and pit-latrine water mingles, contaminating the drinking supply. Outbreaks of different waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and dysentery are rampant in the compounds. These illnesses can lead to death. Every year, money is allocated to the water sector but little or nothing has been implemented in poor communities to change this reality. According to Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, government workers install the majority of boreholes on government officials’ private land, rather than making water available to the rural poor. The government is the major driver of development in any country. It is only through transparency and accountability that water will become a reality. The international community, local communities, and politicians must continue to work to make water available. If politicians would follow through on their promises, we would see a drastic reduction in waterborne diseases and other hardships throughout Zambia and other developing nations. ●

Girls and women in Africa spend an estimated 40 billion hours a year hauling water to their homes. Together, South African women walk the equivalent of to the moon and back 16 times a day just to fetch water. UNICEF

VITALSIGNS Good Water Neighbors has trained 1,600 youth in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan as “water trustees,” uniting communities engaged in conflict to build solutions for their shared dependence on scarce water resources.    In China, a woman-designed living water garden functions as an urban park and a water treatment plant. It turns 200 cubic meters of polluted river water a day into clean drinking water.    Since 2004, the Million Voice Choir for Peace and Clean Water has united the world in song to support work on water issues, singing in 100 cities in more than 60 countries.    Young inter-tribal women leaders have formed the Black Mesa Water Coalition, promoting activism around issues of water depletion, natural resource exploitation, and health promotion in Navajo and Hopi communities in Black Mesa, AZ.

TakeAction Join Friends of the Right to Water. This growing global movement calls for a binding international treaty to protect the human right to water.

Connect with Dando on PulseWire at! | 31

Š Daniel Beltra

The Issues


More than 80% of the Earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s natural forests have already been destroyed. (World Resources Institute)

Top Deforestation Hotspots: Brazil Burma Indonesia Sudan Zambia

Annual Forest Loss in Thousands of Hectares

>400 ha/yr 10 - 399 ha/yr 32 |

*Data 2000-2005 from FAO

Women have long been defenders of our forests. They’ve recognized that when forests fall, the livelihoods of local communities fall with them. Animals flee, soil quality thins, floods and landslides increase, and carbon-sequestering canopies are lost. Whether planting new trees or starting sustainable economic endeavors, women are regenerating the “lungs of the Earth.”

© Beth O’Donnel

Fighting for the Future of Our Forests Edina Yahana, Tanzania’s first woman village forester, watched as the trees around her dwindled due to rapid deforestation. Now she’s taking action to ensure that her community knows about alternatives to felling trees.

To make up for the loss of trees in the past decade, we would need to plant approximately 14 billion trees every year for 10 consecutive years.

As told to Ramya Ramanathan


Sometimes it takes me two hours to walk to the villages—the terrain is hilly and the villages are far—but it is important to me to spread the message of conservation. Edina Yahana

was born in Kwatango, a village within the Usambara forests in Tanzania. As Tanzania’s first woman village forester, I travel Edina Yahana is Tanzania’s only to other villages to educate women and men about conservation, female village forester. She travels to teach communities about the dangers and teach ways to make an income that do not rely on trees. of deforestation. Sometimes it takes me two hours to walk to the villages—the terrain is hilly and the villages are far—but it is important to me to spread the message of conservation. These forests have been here much longer than any of us, and they cannot protect themselves. The East Usambara Mountains are teeming with people. As our population grows, demand for housing and commodities like timber, building poles, and fuel wood increases. We flatten our forests for residential space or farm plantations and harvest the wood for timber. When I get to a village, I teach butterfly farming and beekeeping, as well as techniques to make houses out of bricks instead of lumber. We make fuel-efficient stoves so that the communities are less dependent on firewood. We talk about the negative impacts of illegal timber harvesting, gold mining, and the use of slash and burn techniques for farming. We also plant trees. Together, we’ve put more than a million trees on the Earth! Still, there are groups, mainly from urban areas, who come into our villages to carry out illegal timber harvesting. The local community is working hard to conserve and plant trees, while outsiders come in to tear them down to make profits. But there are signs of hope every day. Villagers are becoming empowered to fight for their own rights and the rights of the forests. Community members are fully involved in the decision-making process on the management of our forest resources. They are earning incomes from butterfly farming and fishing initiatives that do not rely on trees. When done right, sustainable forest management can help both communities and our Earth. Let us conserve our forests: without them, our lives will be in danger. ●

VITALSIGNS Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement began in Kenya to empower women to combat deforestation. It is now creating environmental leaders worldwide in countries like Haiti, Japan, and the Congo.    Women from 56 rural villages in Colombia have joined together to plant trees and gardens to prevent expanding desertification in their region. Since 2001, almost 1,000 women have participated.   When their streams began to run dry due to deforestation, Bhilala tribal women from 30 villages in Madhya Pradesh, India began patrolling their forests to fight against illegal deforestation. Their efforts led to the regeneration of the forests.

TakeAction Use your purchasing power to curb deforestation. To support sustainable forestry worldwide, only buy wood and paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and marked with the FSC label. | 33

Š Talal Al-Nakib

The Issues

Oil-producing nations tend to have greater gender inequality. (The Washington Post)

Hotspots for Oil-related Conflict and Human Rights Abuses: Chechnya Angola Iraq Nigeria Sudan

Top Oil Exporters and Importers

Net Exporters Net Importers 34 |

*Data 2008 from US Energy Information Administration and EndOil

As oil and gas reserves dwindle, the largest industry in the world is increasingly drilling farther afield into remote and sensitive bioregions. The result is increasingly threatening indigenous cultures, contaminating freshwater supplies, fueling repressive regimes, and impoverishing surrounding communities. Women are banding together to protect their land and livelihoods from our deadly addiction.

Protecting the Heart of Our People Sarah James, Arctic Gwich’in elder, defends her people’s sacred land and culture from the constant threat of oil exploration. As told to Ramya Ramanathan

We are caribou people. They are our clothing, our story, our song, our dance, and our food. If you drill for oil here, you are drilling right into the heart of our existence. Sarah James

am a Gwich’in elder. My people live above the Arctic Circle, on the edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Our land is the birthplace of the porcupine caribou, and we are caribou people. They are our clothing, our story, our song, our dance, and our food. If you drill for oil here, you are drilling right into the heart of our existence. It was 1988 when we first heard that the major oil companies—Arco, BP, Chevron, and more—were vying to drill into the coastal plain of the wildlife refuge. The 15 villages who make up the Gwich’in nation, who depend on the same caribou herd and who speak the same language, united to protect our land and our people. Some say the Gwich’in have been here for 20,000 years, and still the oil companies threaten to displace us and scar our land in the name of profits. We call this place the “Sacred Place Where Life Begins” because it is home to polar bears, grizzly bears, the white owl, and the arctic fox. The caribou that form the basis of our culture migrate here each year to give birth. Birthplaces are sacred places, and it is this very ground—the caribou calving ground—that oil companies have marked to drill. We know that drilling will destroy not only the caribou herd but also the essence of our culture. So far, we have managed to protect our land and our livelihoods through education campaigns, but it has been an uphill battle. We can’t do it by ourselves. We must have support from the US Congress and from the international community to preserve this wilderness. As human beings, we must reduce our reliance on oil and invest in renewable energies. We must fight oil companies from drilling into our Earth. When I was young, my mother explained to me that as women, we are powerful; we, like the caribou who give birth here, give life. It is up to women to come together with the help of men to protect our Earth. We must remember that if the Earth goes, then all of us go. ●

A native Alaskan, Sarah James won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2002 for protecting her community from oil drilling.

Countries that depend on oil eventually become among the most economically troubled, the most authoritarian, and the most corrupt and conflict-ridden in the world. Terry Karl | The Paradox of Plenty

VITALSIGNS In Ecuador, indigenous communities filed a case against ChevronTexaco due to soaring cancer rates linked to toxic oil dumping. They are close to winning this $27 billion dollar suit that has dragged on since 1993.    In Nigeria, women are at the forefront of activism against oil companies, staging peaceful protests against the likes of Shell and ChevronTexaco.    In October, 115 civil society groups across 20 countries submitted an open letter to President Hu Jintao to urge China to suspend disastrous pipelines in Burma.    A woman-owned cooperative called Biofuel Oasis kicks petroleum dependency in the US by recycling used vegetable oil on a massive scale, providing alternative fuels to communities.

TakeAction Sign up for an Undriving License to commit to reducing your dependence on oil by finding alternatives to driving. | 35

The Issues


of the gold produced will come from indigenous peoplesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lands between 1995 and 2015.

Š David Maisel

(Minerals Council of Australia)

MINING MiningRelated Conflict Hotspots:

Democratic Republic the of Congo Mexico Papua New Guinea Peru Philippines

Major Mining Activity

Top producers of coal, gold, and silver 36 |

*Data from GFMS and 2008 BP Statistical Review of World Energy

No matter whether it’s diamonds, coal, silver, uranium, or aluminum, when mining operations move in, women’s lives are ripped apart by displacement, toxic contamination, and militarization. But women leaders are generating strategies for resisting invasion and promoting sustainable energy.

Extracting Justice Vidalina Morales de Gamez of El Salvador shields her homeland from poisonous exploitation. As told to Ramya Ramanathan, interpreted by nana nash

I am defending my region for myself, my children, and my community’s children. Vidalina Morales de gamez

live in San Isidro, Cabañas, right next to the San Isidro goldmine in El Salvador. Canada’s Pacific Rim Mining Corporation has been surveying my community’s land for gold and silver deposits since 2002, using invasive techniques that are damaging the Earth. In 2008, our water wells dried up due to the work they were doing. They claim they are an environmentally friendly operation, but they use cyanide-laced water to extract the gold, and that cyanide makes Anti-mining activist Vidalina Morales its way into our water supply. Their methods are threatening our de Gamez rallies to stop mining health, our environment, and our rights. companies from degrading her homeland. All this has been from simple exploration. Full-scale mining has not yet begun; my community has rallied to prohibit Pacific Rim from taking the next step and excavating gold and silver. Our communal cries forced then-President Tony Saca to suspend Pacific Rim’s operating permits. But the danger is still there and it is mounting. Our struggle against Pacific Rim has turned deadly. At least three anti-mining activists have been murdered in the past year, and there is strong suspicion that the corporation is behind these deaths. Before the company came, we were a peaceful community. Now, there are dangers here that go beyond environmental degradation. Our small community has kept this huge corporation from undertaking a full mining operation. There is hope. Our government will not give them permission to begin extraction. Still, Pacific Rim—which has invested 75 million USD in exploring our land’s metal deposits—has filed a lawsuit against our entire country that threatens to cripple us. They are looking to regain their money. They are using the Central American Free Trade Act (CAFTA) to justify a claim that we owe them 100 million USD. The act says that corporations can sue Central American governments when profits have been thwarted—this, despite the fact that Pacific Rim has already caused so much damage to our land and our community. El Salvador is a small country, and paying restitution to this private corporation will destroy us. We need support to stop mining corporations from continuing to pillage our lands. Stand in your streets. Help us put pressure on legislators to revise CAFTA so that the Law does not side against the environment and small populations in favor of profits. Help us tell the world that there is no such thing as “green mining.” ●

Nations where the most mining takes place are also some of the poorest. There is a correlation between the standard of living and the reliance of government on mining. UN Development Program Human Development Index/New Internationalist

VITALSIGNS The International Women in Mining Network brings together women from mining countries around the world for conferences and human rights campaigns. It has become a global platform for women impacted by mining projects either as displaced communities or as workers in highly exploitative conditions.    A group of women leaders is pushing for an end to mountaintop mining as well as investment in renewable energy to power local communities in Appalachia.    In a small Andean town in Colombia, women university students are leading the charge against a mining project that threatens to wipe out agriculture and contaminate water supplies.

TakeAction In the Congo, coltan mining for consumer electronics fuels conflict and violence against women. Join the conflict-free movement at | 37

The Issues


number of manmade objects larger than 10 cm in space, posing a significant risk for total satellite destruction.


(The Space Review)

Satellite image showing space debris around the Earth.

Largest Space Agencies by Budget: US Russia Japan China France Germany

World Space Programs

Countries with a space agency 38 |

*Data 2009 from Euroconsult

The space surrounding our planet is rapidly becoming cluttered with manmade debris that interferes with the satellite technology that powers everything from our cell phones to mapping of resources for human security. For some women who are peering into the future, the preservation of outer space is a critical frontier for sustaining life.

Guardian of the Universe A rare voice for the peaceful stewardship of space, Polish-American Agnieszka Lukaszczyk is passionate about promoting youth engagement for a secure planetary future. As told to Ramya Ramanathan

All of us—from young women in Ghana to men in the US—rely on space technology for the most basic of things. Agnieszka Lukaszczyk


hen people ask me why I work on issues of space security, I tell them to imagine what would happen if satellites stopped working for 48 hours. All of us—from young women in Ghana to men in the US—rely on space technology for the most basic of things: our cell phones, our navigation equipment, Agnieszka Lukaszcyk is a space policy consultant for the Secure our weather forecasts, our planes and transport; even our water World Foundation. management systems are dependent on satellite technology. And space offers amazing advantages in terms of assessing our environmental impact on the Earth. Only from space can you really observe what is happening with our planet. As a space policy consultant, I work with the Secure World Foundation on three main areas. The first is to make sure that satellites can orbit safely around the Earth. There’s a huge issue with space debris that poses significant risk to our satellites. Some estimate that there are 19,000 manmade objects in space from previous space missions that are larger than 10 centimeters in diameter. Anything over one centimeter is a threat to our satellites. We need to address this issue and create policies to limit our footprint in space in order to harness all that space has to offer us. Perhaps one of the most important things we do is look for ways to use space technology to help humankind. There are infinite possibilities for how this work can help humanitarian and environmental causes, from mapping deforestation in Brazil to assessing damage after natural disasters. For example, in the aftermath of January’s earthquake in Haiti, most data and images to assess the impact were supplied by space agencies. Our third aim is to look at ways to deflect asteroids that enter the atmosphere and pose a risk to Earth. A large enough asteroid could wipe out entire countries. While there is technology in place to take care of it, the policy is not yet there. It is so important that we invest in this frontier, but there is a lack of political will and international cooperation to move forward. Countries can’t do much alone; it takes cooperation to make an impact. For example, the US is about to retire its space shuttle, and in the meantime they have to use the shuttles and rockets of other nations to get up there. Sometimes people see this as a choice between spending millions of dollars on space technology or putting that money toward anti-poverty groups and other humanitarian initiatives. I want people to know that protecting and exploring space is a huge step in addressing social issues like hunger, diminishing resources, and limiting barriers to communication technologies around the world. It’s not the ultimate solution, but it’s an available option that can hugely support our efforts. ●

Much of the debris in space will remain in orbit for thousands of years. Secure World Foundation

VITALSIGNS Secure World Foundation is developing an international space code of conduct. The code details rights and responsibilities for space-faring nations and includes provisions for addressing space debris.    Women scientists are establishing the Space and Science Academy for Girls in Kenya to prepare young African women to become future leaders for space sciences.    The UN Programme on Space Applications is hosting workshops on how space technology can be best utilized for supporting developing countries. They're offering scholarships to youth to prepare the new generation of space activists.

TakeAction Learn more about the peaceful stewardship of space at the Institute for Cooperation in Space. Connect with Agnieszka on PulseWire at! | 39

Barefoot Solar Engineers Light the Way Twenty-year-old Meenakshi Dewan is from a small, remote village in Orissa, India that has historically been off the power grid. No electricity means a higher reliance on firewood, kerosene, and diesel fuels, which are both expensive and damaging to the environment. Meenakshi and three other women completed an intensive training program led by the Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Program to become solar engineers. By harnessing the sun’s energy to create lanterns and overhead lighting, they’re helping students study after dark, businesses extend working hours, and farmers have more time to work in the fields. That translates to huge economic gains. The women have also set up a training center to teach others in neighboring communities to set up solar-engineering systems of their own. And, because the women engineers are earning incomes, they’ve also earned unprecedented respect in their villages.

40 |

© Abbie Trayler-Smith | Panos Pictures

INDIA, Eastern Ghats, Orissa | 41

Six Eco-Breakthroughs for the Planet’s Women © Courtesy of KVA MATx

Inspiring new trends are changing women’s lives and restoring our relationship to the natural world.

Urban Farming

A win for women: Women are already the world’s major gardeners, especially in rural areas. Now they are feeding cities as they take advantage of new opportunities created by shifting demographics.

Sprawling rural farms may one day cease to be our immediate image of agriculture. The new frontier is vertical, as farming practices adapt to flourish where people live. Kibera “sack gardens” | In Nairobi’s Kibera slum, home to 1.5 million people, fresh food is tough to come by. Miniature gardens—housed in sacks or other found materials—are creating strips of green between crowded rows of houses. Rooftop gardens | From Brooklyn to Barcelona, farms have moved onto the roofs of buildings in many of the world’s major cities, increasing production of locally grown gardens. Sembradores Urbanos | Sembradores Urbanos is a movement in Mexico City led by three visionary young women to demonstrate and spread urban farming techniques throughout the city. Learn about it here at

Sustainable Cities

© Tom Chance

A win for the planet: The toughest environmental challenges have an intricate web of causes that require equally holistic and comprehensive solutions.

42 |

A win for women: The task of balancing the delicate ecosystems of our environment brings forth women’s leadership and bold ideas for a sustainable future.

Increasingly, communities are coming together to reimagine the spaces where we live. Transition Town Movement | A growing movement addresses climate change and peak oil levels at the local level. Local communities commit to developing strategic plans to reduce their environmental footprints. The transition town movement increases resilience and reduces carbon emissions. For more info, visit Kaputei Town | Kaputei Town consists of 2,000 affordable eco-housing units for former slum-dwellers in Kenya. From solar energy to efficient water planning to a microfinanced local economy, Kaputei Town builds sustainable livelihoods from the ground up. Read about it at

© Jacob Hutchings Digital Light Source Peter Arnold, Inc.

A win for the planet: More than half the planet is living in cities, and that number is only expected to grow. Altering food production systems to respond to the urban shift is key.

Design Revolution

A win for the planet: Some of the biggest ideas have the smallest ecological footprint.

A win for women: Many of the most innovative green products are designed specifically to meet challenges faced by women around the world.

Green design proves that well-designed products can make a difference for people and the planet. Portable Light Project | Produced by local women in places like Mexico, Nicaragua, and South Africa, these gorgeous traditional woven textiles have a modern catch—they double as solar-powered lights. Find out more at Eco Sanitary Pads | Millions of girls around the world stay home from school during their periods due to a lack of access to sanitary products. Sustainable Health Enterprises piloted a line of sanitary pads in Rwanda that are affordable, eco-friendly, and made from local materials. Learn about the benefits at


Firewood Alternatives A win for the planet: Our use of firewood is a major contributor to deforestation. Finding alternatives will help us keep trees in the ground and take CO2 out of the air.

A win for women: Throughout the developing world, women are tasked with gathering firewood. Alternatives allow girls and women to spend less time gathering firewood and more time on education.

Half the world’s population cooks over wood fires. We’ve burned out much of our traditional fuel reserves through overuse, a situation that is sparking a transition to alternative fuels and energy sources.

Fuel-Efficient Stoves | Practical, affordable stoves use everything from solar rays to animal dung for efficient cooking. Innovations in wood-burning stove design are also helping to cut down on wasted fuel. Find out more at Recycled Sugarcane Fuel | In sugarcane-producing areas, a promising new technology takes the leftovers from sugarcane production and recycles it into charcoal briquettes that are used as a source of fuel.

Legislating Change A win for the planet: The environment can’t lobby or vote on its own behalf. It’s up to us to shape public policy to anticipate and mitigate human impact. A win for women: By changing our laws to protect the forces that sustain life, we are creating legal systems that are friendlier to women as well as to ecosystems.

From city councils to national constitutions, groundbreaking environmental protections are being written into law. Ecuador’s Constitutional Change | Ecuador has taken a relatively simple step to protect the planet’s natural resources—they’ve given nature its own constitutional rights. In 2008, the people voted on a new constitution, and Ecuador became the first nation to recognize the planet’s inherent right to life.

© José X. Bermeo

© kshishtof |

Biomimicry | Biomimicry looks to nature to inform product design. The bumpy back of the Namib Desert beetle, for example, has inspired the blueprint for water harvesting panels that don’t require underground drilling. Be inspired at

Plastic Bag Bans | Entire countries, including South Africa, Belgium, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda have banned or restricted plastic bags, along with the cities of San Francisco, New Delhi, Washington, DC, and Mexico City. In China, a nationwide ban saved 40 billion bags in the first year alone along with 1.6 million tons of petroleum.

Mapping the Future A win for the planet: Maps provide the knowledge needed to track and fight deforestation and other environmental degradation. A win for women: Women’s participation in mapping projects allows women’s knowledge to be preserved and solidifies their role as important stewards of the planet’s resources.

In order to protect our environment, we have to be able to define it. New mapping technologies are making it easier for communities to map and manage natural resources. Brazil’s Surui tribe | Brazil’s Surui tribe was shocked when they accessed Google Earth’s satellite imagery. The extent of deforestation in the Amazon was far beyond what they could ever imagine. Led by Chief Almir Surui, they partnered with Google to raise awareness of the sweeping deforestation that is taking its toll on their forests. By embracing new tools, indigenous communities are sending a powerful statement: This is our land. We are protecting it. | 43

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eco-he roines to Watch

Women are emerging as the future of the environmental movement. These six rising leaders are just the beginning.

Leah Wickham | Fiji

Melinda Kramer | US

We [are] here in Copenhagen to fight for our identity, for our culture, and for our very right to exist.

There is something profoundly powerful about a coming together of people, a breaking of isolation, a tapping of collective wisdom.

Twenty-four-year-old Fijian climate activist Leah Wickham took Copenhagen by storm during this year’s climate talks with an impassioned plea on behalf of her generation. Her voice joins a growing number of young women leaders in island nations who are standing up and holding the international community accountable for devastating climate change impacts in their countries.

Melinda Kramer is growing a global network of women environmental leaders. As founder of Women’s Earth Alliance, Kramer has built powerful coalitions and created solidarity among women leaders, bringing attention to important issues like the global water crisis and amplifying their efforts to protect our planet’s resources. Connect with Melinda on Pulsewire!

Peggy Liu | China

Josette Perard | Haiti

There is no better moment in history for the US and China to work together on clean energy.

When the situation is bad where I live and I’m concerned, I go on location, and when I meet the women, my spirit goes up.

Peggy Liu is at the center of US/China climate change diplomacy. Bringing together the two biggest emissions culprits to clean up their act may seem like an overly ambitious undertaking, but Liu seems up to the challenge. By connecting clean tech leaders across hemispheres, her organization, the Joint US-China Collaboration for Clean Energy, is building powerful momentum toward collaborative efforts.

Rosemary Olive Mbone Enie |  Cameroon It’s time for everyone affected by global warming to be included in the conversation. Rosemary Olive Mbone Enie is hitting the road for climate change, listening to women’s voices and speaking out about climate issues. Her organization, Women Environment and Climate Action Network (WECAN), is leading an 18 Months Climate Justice Road Show and Mobilization Tour to involve more African women in the environmental justice and climate action movement.

As Haiti faces the challenge of sustainable reconstruction, it can look to women leaders like Josette Perard to lead the way. Perard is co-founder of Haiti’s Lambi Fund, a grassroots women’s organization, and she is a leader for sustainable development and environmental justice. While they respond to the immediate aftermath of Haiti’s 7.0 earthquake, Perard and the Lambi Fund are already planning the expansion of their programs to meet Haiti’s long-term needs.

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkin | US This moment is one in which we’ll define the future of America’s role within the global economy, as well as the shape of our culture. For Phaedra Ellis-Lampkins, environmentalism is not a luxury to be reserved for the wealthy. A leading voice connecting the dots between the US’s environmental problems and its failing economy, she champions green jobs as a solution to both. Her organization, Green for All, empowers low-income populations to join the fight against our most pressing environmental and economic challenges.

Connect with Rosemary on Pulsewire! | 45

Breaking The biggest country in South America is on the brink of transformation. Women are leading the charge.

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© Alex Nikada |

Country Focus


nce renowned as the most unequal society in the world, Brazil is now lauded as a new global superpower. A combination of a surging economy, innovative social programs, and unique environmental policies have dropped poverty rates and won international admiration. Behind the headlines, legions of women peacekeepers are quelling gun violence in the slums, and others are developing sustainable cities that recognize food as a human right. In the Amazon basin, they are fiercely protecting dwindling forests. A record 3 out of 7 candidates in October’s presidential elections are women, and a recent poll showed that Brazilians are ready: 9 out of 10 said they would vote for a woman candidate. Can Brazil’s women build on this momentum to create an even bigger watershed of progress?





© Wendy Marijnissen


Argentina | 47

© Octavio Campos Salles |

Daughter of the Amazon As Brazil threatens to reverse years of environmental gains in favor of economic growth, presidential candidate Marina Silva promises to put the Earth back on the agenda.


ince the 1970s, Brazil has been known as a hot spot for environmental degradation. Between government policies that led to the massive destruction of its Amazonian forests; improper mining techniques that have tainted water supplies; and high emissions in its main cities, the largest country in South America has long been a major concern for environmental activists everywhere. Under the influence of a woman named Marina Silva, all that has changed. As Brazil’s environment minister from 2003 to 2008, the country once thought to be among the worst environmental offenders in the world turned a corner. Today Brazil is a country that powers its cars with energy-saving ethanol, relies heavily on hydroelectric- and wind-produced energy, and legislates to protect the land rights of indigenous communities. In 2009, it soared to second place in National Geographic’s Greendex survey, which ranks countries by environmentally sustainable consumption patterns. But Brazil’s environmental gains may not be long-lasting. Experts predict that by 2014 Brazil will be the fifth-largest economy in the world, ahead of France and Britain. It’s these economic ambitions that threaten the country’s environmental footprint. In 2008, Marina Silva stepped down from her post at the Ministry of the Environment to return to her previous position in the Senate, citing a “growing resistance” within the Brazilian government to protecting environmental interests as her reasoning. When Silva announced her decision, there was a collective cry of worry from Brazilian environmental supporters and the international community alike. Sergio Leitao, the director of public policy for Greenpeace in Brazil, even said, “It’s time to start praying.”

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It is the marriage between tradition and modernity, between city and forest, sky and earth that will make Brazil into the nation we seek. Marina Silva to TierraAmérica

There are alarming signs that he may be right. In February, President Lula da Silva approved a controversial hydroelectric dam in the heart of the Amazon rainforest that will flood nearly 200 square miles of land and displace an estimated 30,000 indigenous residents. And in late 2009, Brazil discovered unprecedented oil reserves off its coast that it plans to privatize and bring ashore to finance its economic and social development—a move that threatens to lessen its reliance on renewable energies and increase greenhouse gas emissions. Now, as Marina Silva watches Brazil’s environmental excellence wane, she is hoping to protect the forests she grew up in from the highest seat of power. She’s running for president in this year’s October elections; if she wins, she’ll not only be Brazil’s first woman president, she’ll also be the country’s first Afro-Brazilian leader. And she just may be the country’s greatest hope for maintaining its environmental record.

You cannot make decisions thinking only about the upcoming elections and gaining popularity—you have to think about future generations.

© Johnny Lye |

Marina Silva

Following the River Toward Justice Marina Silva in her own words. as told to Natalie Hoare

was born in the state of Acre, in the western part of the Amazon. My parents were rubber tappers, but my mother passed away when I was 14 after giving birth to 11 children. We were completely isolated, as rubber tappers are scattered throughout the forest. Our nearest neighbor was around two hours away and it took two and a half days to get to the state capital following the river. Today there’s a road, but back then, we had to go the long way around, on foot. At 15, I was taken ill with hepatitis, and at that time, there were no doctors or healthcare in the forest. I didn’t know how to read or write until I left home at 16 and a half. I asked my dad if I could go to the city to get proper treatment and to study, because at that time, I had a dream—I wanted to be a nun—but you can’t be a nun unless you’re literate. In September 1975, I went to the city to find a doctor, a school, and a church. I stayed at a cousin’s home and started a literacy program for adults. I had already learnt mathematics with my father in the rubber plantations because when we sold the latex on behalf of all of the owners, we had to discount 17% of the weight to account for the moisture content. Because most people were illiterate, they used to take 30% or even 40% off. My father taught me how to work it out so that I could do it accurately and not be ripped off. It took me about 15 days to learn to read. The teachers were amazed. Within the next four years, I managed to complete the equivalent of primary and secondary schools, and by 1979, I was ready to go to university. I had also spent two years and eight months in a nunnery. But then I met Chico Mendes, a rubber tapper turned environmental activist, and discovered liberation theology [a school of thought in Christianity that aims to bring justice to the

poor and oppressed], and saw what was happening to my people. I had a strong desire to participate in the struggle for the ideals that they were putting forward and decided to leave the nunnery. My entrance into politics wasn’t a snap decision. After graduating in 1984 from the Federal University of Acre with a teaching degree in history, I began to teach and get more involved in politics: lobbying with Mendes on behalf of grassroots communities and teachers unions; fighting for water, electricity, and sewage treatment in remote communities; and leading peaceful demonstrations with Mendes to warn against deforestation and the expulsion of forest communities from their traditional locations. In December 1988, Mendes was killed. He had led a successful campaign to prevent an area of forest earmarked for protection from being turned over to a cattle ranch. This made the rancher furious, and a few days later, he sent his son to murder Mendes. Mendes was a very close personal friend and had a big influence on my political thinking. I served as environment minister from 2003 until May 2008. When I started the job, the rate of deforestation was growing very quickly, and I knew that there was no way of reversing that process without involving the rest of the government, so we created a cross-ministry initiative, the Amazon Region Protected Areas program, which also involved several international conservation organizations. By cooperating, we succeeded in reducing deforestation over three consecutive years, reaching a 57% reduction. And within the environment ministry, we created 24 million hectares of protected areas, designated 10 million hectares of land for indigenous populations, seized about 30,000 illegal properties and around one million cubic meters of illegally logged wood, and arrested 700 environmental criminals—illegal loggers and so on—125 of whom were actually employees of environmental bodies. I realized I could no longer create the right political conditions to sustain the initiatives at the same sort of pace, so I asked to resign. It was a very difficult decision but I could not stay if the measures I had set up would be removed. I believe that all the world’s leaders are facing a great challenge that will continue for centuries, whether we want it to or not: how to develop with protection and how to protect development. In the case of Brazil, our greatest challenge is to protect the forest, because its destruction is responsible for three quarters of carbon dioxide emissions in Brazil. In the case of developed countries, the challenge is how to change the energy matrix and decarbonize their economies. To be effective, you must be a political environmentalist and not a politician who is also an environmentalist. In the environment ministry, you cannot make decisions thinking only about the upcoming elections and gaining popularity—you have to think about future generations. In Brazil, everyone has equal potential. What they lack is opportunities. In my case, the opportunity was education. ● This piece was produced in collaboration with Geographical Magazine. | 49

© Jocelyn Edelstein

I am like a mother lion because I will do anything to protect my family from this violence.

In My Favela


PulseWire member Val Santos Das Neves on living in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Latin America.

t’s exactly 6:15 in the morning, and I have just had a familiar wake-up call—a loud rumble that seemed to come from right atop my house. It was the famous besourão. “Besourão?” you ask. That’s the nickname we give to the police helicopter that opens fire on our community in the early morning hours. Shortly after, I hear the strange sounds of the caveirão. “Caveirão?” you ask. That’s what we call the huge armored vans, tank-like, that the police send in. Then, the sound of firecrackers. It’s a signal the soldados, or drug traffickers, use to warn each other that there are police in the favela. The besourão and the caveirão are police operations meant to arrest and kill the soldados. But much of the time, those who are arrested or killed are innocent people, out in the streets in the early hours to get to their jobs, who are mistaken for being soldados. Soon after the sound of the besourão, I hear gunfights erupt—immense, loud, and angry. This is always the worst part. The bullets from the guns go in every direction and sometimes lodge deep in the bodies of innocents. Most of the time it’s the body of a child who has woken early to play in the yard or to go to school. Sometimes these children are shot right in front of their homes. It will surprise you to know that the violence I describe is in a neighborhood of beautiful Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s main tourist destination. Every day innocent children and citizens are laid out on the ground, in front of their own homes or on the streets, shot by bullets not meant for them. I am very proud to be Brazilian, but with every shot I hear, I am terrified that something will happen to my family. I have four children and seven grandchildren whom I call my lion cubs. I am like a mother lion because

I will do anything to protect my family from this violence. My humble house is home to my two daughters and three of my grandkids. I work selling purses and art out of my home to be able to provide for them. Someday I wish to open a shop where women can sell their art and tell their stories. I wish to live in a community that is not plagued with guns and bullets. To survive, we let go of thoughts of the violence of the favela we live in. We dance. We sew. We dream of peace. We remember that although we have men who love war, we have a God who loves peace. ●

VITALSIGN: Women Keep the Peace in Brazil’s Slums Brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula is looking to women to keep the peace in Brazil’s favelas. Every year brings an average of 4,000 murders in Rio de Janeiro alone, giving Brazil a murder rate on par with some of the world’s deadliest conflict zones. The Ministry of Justice has hired more than 11,000 women to help reduce the rate of gun-related deaths in their neighborhoods. The program recognizes that women are central to their communities and can steer at-risk youth away from gangs and toward vocational training programs. It’s a program that has garnered international attention as it looks to those most affected by the violence to help put a stop to it and that recognizes the important impact women leaders can have in creating what they’re calling “a culture of peace.”

This story was sourced from PulseWire, our community newswire. You can connect directly with Val Santos Das Neves at 50 |

© Francilins Leal

© Ricardo Funari Lucia | BrazilPhotos

Special Focus

Environmental and social programs are revitalizing Brazil’s economy and closing the gender gap.

Building a New Brazil

© Gervásio | STF

© Marisol Villanueva

Diverse women leaders are creating models for change. Maria Alice Compos Freire | Visionary Elder Tortured and jailed at age 17, Maria Alice Compos Freire emerged with a deepened spirituality and commitment to the people of Brazil. A traditional healer and vocal rainforest advocate, Freire is also a member of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers.

Joênia Wapixana | Advocate Joênia Wapixana, Brazil’s first female indigenous lawyer, represents indigenous communities to protect their land rights. She helped win a landmark legal battle to maintain indigenous control of the 4.2 million-acre Raposa Serra do Sol reservation.

© WWF-Brasil | João Gonçalves

Eliane Potiguara | Unifier Born in a Rio favela, Eliane Potiguara became known as a connecting force for indigenous women when she founded Brazil’s first organization for indigenous communities and its first indigenous newspaper.

Mara Régia di Perna | Broadcaster Mara Régia di Perna’s radio programs tackle taboo subjects, while empowering women listeners. One show, “Natureza Viva,” or Live Nature, unites female voices of the Amazon around environmental issues.


Fátima Oliveira | Activist Doctor Fátima Oliveira runs Brazil’s largest feminist health network. A leader in bioethics, her philosophy is grounded in an overall respect for life. She expanded health access for Afro-Brazilian women and other underserved groups while breaking down barriers between doctors and patients.

Women-Only Police Stations Brazil inspired an international phenomenon 25 years ago when it became the first country to create police stations staffed entirely by women. Over 300 stations scattered across the country are geared toward helping domestic violence and rape survivors report instances of abuse in a safe space.

Sustainable Cities The southern city of Curitiba was one of the first to market itself as “green”— and it wasn’t just a publicity stunt. With abundant parks where sheep are used to mow the grass, an innovative transportation system that includes bus-only roads, a program that encourages recycling by offering food in exchange for waste, and mobile schools that teach about environmental issues, Curitiba is a model to follow.

Conditional Cash Transfers Despite the global economic crisis, Brazil has managed to narrow the wage gap between rich and poor. The success is due mostly to what’s called a conditional cash transfer program that awards small grants of $10 to $50 a month to rural families for keeping their kids in school and taking them for regular health checkups.

Incentives against Deforestation For some, the Amazon basin is synonymous with massive deforestation. Now, environmental groups, acting on a UN-recommendation, are paying private landowners to keep their trees standing. Timber is a source of economic gain for many Brazilian citizens, but the risks to the environment and indigenous communities is taking its toll. Payment helps offset the financial cost of being environmentally friendly.

RESOURCECENTER Connect with Brazilian women changemakers in the Brazil Café on PulseWire at | 51

What’s the Point of the

if We Can’t Dance? Jane Barry and Jelena Dordevic met with activists around the world to discuss the culture of the women’s movement and uncovered a disturbing trend: We’re deeply unsettled in our work, and it’s affecting our progress. It’s time to change that.


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© Abbie Trayler-Smith | Panos Pictures

xana Alistratova is an intense, driven activist running an anti-trafficking center in Moldova. When we first meet in Dublin, at a Front Line Human Rights Defenders meeting, we talk for hours about her work, her life, and her safety. Every day she works directly with survivors while managing a staff of 15. It’s difficult and dangerous work. I finally ask her how she manages to juggle it all. She pauses. “Well, I don’t sleep,” she says. Oxana’s answer sums up the experience of most activists in the women’s movement. Across the world—from Rwandan peace activists to US domestic violence advocates—we are looking for more time. We are constantly trying to balance too much work with too few resources and never enough rest. We’re making choices every day about well-being—our own and everyone else’s. With so much to be done, and so many wrongs in the world to right, we almost always choose to serve others first. We don’t feel we have a right to rest. I know because, with my colleague Jelena Dordevic, I’ve talked with more than 100 female human rights activists from 45 countries about this topic, and they all said the same thing: We’ve created a culture of self-sacrifice. And we’re tired. We’re fearful, exhausted, even traumatized. When we sat down and talked with women about their hopes and challenges, what we learned was both disturbing and surprising.

What’s disturbing is that as activists, we manage high levels of chronic stress, exposure to trauma, and enormous workloads. We’re deeply stressed about the amount of work we have to do, and yet we almost universally accept this level of work as an inevitable fact of activism. What’s surprising is that despite it all, we seem to keep going. Susan Wells, the founder of Montana’s Windcall Ranch—an all-expense paid retreat for activists—said it best. She talked of “a damaging work ethic,” in which we are encouraged to override our own needs in order to reach our end goal. She explained that there is a damaging perception that a truly committed activist should be willing to tackle the Goliath of social injustice regardless of the personal cost. She pointed out the irony in the fact that when she first established her home as a free retreat for overworked activists nearly 20 years ago, she sent out 3,000 invitations, but only 30 people applied. Most felt that they—and their organizations—just couldn’t afford the indulgence. Our work is messy, complicated, and personal. We’re fighting against warlords, mercenaries, and weapon-manufacturing nations. We’re up against state-sponsored terrorism, transnational corporations, and the factory down the hill that’s polluting our water supplies. We’re exposing our neighbor who just trafficked his daughter. We’re up against the world, and it’s taking its toll. And yet when Jelena and I first started interviewing women activists about how they cope with the enormous pressure, most reacted with confusion and even frustration. During one group interview in Sri Lanka, after we had discussed how they were coping with stress, one activist stopped me and said, “Look, I don’t get it—what does this have to do with our work?” I heard this comment over and over again. As activists we can talk for hours about funding crunches, fundamentalisms, ending war, and violence against women. But discussing our own fears is much harder. Our stress, exhaustion, and personal safety are private matters. Once activists got past the initial shock of speaking about themselves, issues of burnout inevitably came up. Sarala Emmanuel in Sri Lanka described it as an overwhelming feeling that you can never stem the tide of violence. “When you hear about another rape or another killing, it makes you depressed,” she said. “In a way it does seem too much—we can’t respond to it all.” It’s time we start talking. Sooner or later, the stress of the work gets

© Thomas Lee

We’re up against state-sponsored terrorism and the factory down the hill that’s polluting our water supplies. And it’s taking its toll. A survey of over 100 female human rights activists showed writer and activist Jane Barry that instilling a culture of self-care, collaboration, and celebration will dramatically strengthen the success of the international women’s movement.

absorbed into our hearts, minds, bodies, and into the movement as a whole. Without the time and space to reflect and recover, it stays there. Eventually it takes form as breakdowns, strokes, heart disease, cancer, suicide. “I felt that I couldn’t cope with one more minute of handling responsibilities,” said Anissa Helie, a human rights activist in Algeria. “I spent five weeks in bed, only getting up to go to the toilet, not even able to make myself a cup of tea.” The time has come to make our own personal well-being a priority. Because without physical and emotional health, how can we do the important work that we have set out to do? Activist Pramada Menon coined the phrase “activist sustainability.” “We never think of our own sustainability,” she said. “I am not talking about funding. The question is how do we sustain our own lives, get our own energy, and bring that change elsewhere?” When we are living under constant pressure, the stress and anxiety of staying alert gets to be too much. When we are this tired, we have no time to strategize, to analyze threats, to do our jobs well. Worries about feeding our families or retiring without a pension are as important as concerns about funding our organizations and combating violence. These are part of the same sustainability equation. Sustainability is about being able to do the work we love, while still feeling full and happy in every part of our lives. It’s about feeling safe, feeling connected, feeling recognized, respected, and valued—for who we are, as much as for what we do.

But how do we sustain ourselves? How do we maintain the energy needed to create the change we so desperately seek? As a movement, I know that we are resilient. We get knocked down. And we get back up again. Here’s how.

Joining Forces As activists, we are each other’s families. We create peace by joining forces, by gathering, talking, and listening. For many, the first time we come together with other activists is one of the first times that we find safety—not just in numbers but also in common experience. Sometimes, these spaces aren’t available in our own communities and we must seek them out by attending conferences, joining forums, and finding friends that can become our families and our pillars. Let’s start talking. Not on the edges of conferences or in rushed e-mails. Not during tearful, exhausted calls from the office to another time zone at three in the morning. This has to be deliberate. We have to put talking, listening, and responding to our own needs at the top of our agendas.

Crying It Out Crying has universal resonance among activists. Hope Chigudu, a Zimbabwean activist, pointed out that one group who works on HIV/AIDS issues has a “crying room” to help its members deal with the tragedy and horrors they view every day. And, in our work, we see a lot of tragedy. | 53

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thing is certain: Big Change never tasted so good. 54 |

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really bring about significant change, people have to go within themselves and find peace.” It’s controversial, and deeply personal, and that can make it difficult to talk about. But the majority of the activists I interviewed practiced some kind of spirituality that kept them going—from walking in the woods to Buddhist meditation. Spiritual practices can help us make sense of the things going on around us. They can help us return to loving the world and loving ourselves. Making a practice of validating and affirming our spirituality can rejuvenate our work.

© Holly Wilmeth

Make Sustainability a Part of Our Everyday Lives

Sustainability is about being able to do the work we love, while still feeling full and happy in every part of our lives.

I am reminded of Barbara Bangura, a Sierra Leonean activist who worked with women who had been captured and enslaved by rebel soldiers during the decade-long civil war. When we met in her crowded offices, I was struck by her composure. What did it take to maintain serenity when surrounded by so much pain and sadness? Barbara told me that usually she manages, but that there are stories that she just can’t shake. Every activist has these stories—those that seep, unexpectedly, into every aspect of our lives, haunting our dreams. These are the stories that drive us to the brink of despair, that leave us asking, “Why is this happening?” We need to feel these stories, to take time to reflect on the gravity of the situations we are facing. These are the times when we allow ourselves to feel and release, to share in the sorrow.

Feeding the Soul Spirituality, in its many forms, sustains many of us. Let’s get the “S” word out of the closet and talk openly about how to embrace what works and how to put aside the rest. For some, there is no name for this form of renewal; it is simply as natural as embracing the elements or digging bare hands into the earth to help create life. Spirituality takes us back to our deepest beliefs and values, to the source of our passion and commitment. For many, it can be the key to sustaining ourselves as activists. Because, as Margaret Schink, a US-based activist and one of the founders of Urgent Action Fund, says, “We’ll never have peace unless people have peace within themselves. To

As a network of organizations working for the world’s women, we must begin to dedicate real time in our own work environments to sitting down and talking about well-being together. We must begin to shift our culture radically by incorporating self-sustainability, activist safety, and well-being into our everyday routines. Zawadi Nyong’o, an activist from Kenya, put together the following list of ways her organization can begin this shift. Let’s add to it. • Take 5 minutes every hour to stop, drink a glass of water, meditate, stretch, or do whatever is relaxing to you. • Create a space within the office for peaceful reflection. • Ensure that at least one day of annual staff retreats or gatherings are reserved for rest and restoration. • Fundraise for staff well-being. Give each staff member a personal well-being budget for massages, reiki, pilates, talk therapy, etc. • Say no to working on the weekends and budget sacred time for reflection during our work weeks.

Challenge Yourself to Challenge the Culture Ask yourself what well-being means to you. What would it take for you to live in balance? Take the time to listen to your answer. It means change— and change can be scary. Let the process of exploring inner sustainability transform your own activism. Challenge your beliefs about what it means to be a part of this movement. It starts with ourselves as individual activists and permeates outward. What does it mean if the way we’ve been active for generations isn’t working for us anymore? I’ve often wondered if embracing a different way of working negates all of the progress we’ve made until now. Of course, it means exactly the opposite. Embracing activist sustainability is about celebrating where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished. It’s about embracing the good and recognizing the bad. It’s time we start doing less and engage in “the extreme sport of stopping,” as one activist calls it. We have to change the culture of activism and heal ourselves, so that we can begin to heal others. When this cultural shift takes hold, our movement will become truly unstoppable. ● Jane Barry is a human rights activist and author of What’s the Point of the Revolution if We Can’t Dance, on which this article is based.

RESOURCECENTER For more ways to integrate inner sustainability into your work, download “Insiste, Persiste, Resiste, Existe” at Log on to PulseWire to join forces with supportive women activists from around the world. | 55

Raising a Child in the

© Deb Gregoire

Parenting doesn’t have to mean shielding our children from the elements. One mom says that raising a rugged daughter can bring benefits to the whole family. By Deb Gregoire, as told to Leighann Franson

t took us nearly six hours to climb through the thick stretch of Sitka Spruce to reach the top of Thunder Mountain, a foreboding peak that towers over our hometown of Juneau, Alaska. But once we reached its summit, it only took 30 minutes for my then 7-year-old daughter, Sidra, to find the lost tooth the tooth fairy had hidden along its craggy outcropping. It’s a scene that has played out several times along various ridges surrounding our town. It begins with a note from the tooth fairy tucked under her pillow and ends with a mountaintop treasure hunt. For Sidra, every lost tooth is a new adventure. For my husband and me, it is another successful attempt to nurture our daughter’s intimate connection with the Earth. Sidra spent the first years of her life climbing steep Alaskan mountains and navigating around snow banks. When she was three months old, I strapped her into her baby carrier and hiked miles along narrow, Spruce-lined trails. A few years later, my husband and I clicked her into her first pair of skis and held her hand as we navigated the rugged terrain of our local ski mountain. Now that Sidra is an active, independent 8 year

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old, there’s hardly a day that goes by that doesn’t include a hike, a bike ride, a few ski runs, or a little time in the garden. We’re not weekend warriors or adrenaline junkies. Being outdoors is our way of life, a way we hope to impart to our child. For my husband and me, raising an active, Earthfriendly child means planning and organization, but it doesn’t have to be hard work. In fact, it can be quite fun. Over the past few years, we have amassed a backpack full of ways to mix childrearing with adventure, from scaling mountains to snorkeling in deep waters. It boils down to remembering a few simple principles:


Let kids surprise themselves.

Kids aren’t given the opportunity to amaze themselves with their capabilities because, as parents, we think they may get dirty or hurt. When I first told my family that I had taken Sidra on a backpacking excursion when she was just a toddler, they were flabbergasted. Wasn’t it dangerous to climb a peak with such a young child? While there are certainly dangers to going on adventures with young children, our fear often prevails over our children’s innate desire to run, play, discover, and explore the land. When their environment is too controlled, they aren’t given the opportunity to get to know their boundaries and their potential. When we commit to creating safe places by being present with our children—in our local park, on the trail, or at the beach—we allow them to explore and to learn about themselves and the world.


© Deb Gregoire

Being outdoors is our way of life, one that we hope to impart to our child. (Above) Deb Gregoire’s daughter, Sidra, proudly displays the tooth the Tooth Fairy hid at the top of Thunder Mountain in Juneau, Alaska. Deb encourages Sidra’s love of the outdoors by devising fun, age-appropriate games that keep 8-year-old Sidra active and engaged.


Meet them where they are.

Going for a hike is fun at any age, but if you throw in a game of hide-and-seek or a treasure hunt, you’ll transform a normal walk into an adventure. Create activities that help your child interact with nature. Collect leaves off a tree and make a crafty art piece. Bring a book about your local flowers and birds and see how many species you can find. Pack a lunch and have a picnic along the way. Choose activities that complement your child’s skill level, and then adjust those activities to your child’s interests. We want our children to enjoy themselves without becoming frustrated.


Remember the journey.

On a recent holiday weekend, my family and I took a trip to the Yukon to mountain bike through the glacial streams and lakes that decorate this sparsely populated Canadian territory. While the trail wasn’t overly technical, Sidra found herself at a mental impasse. It was a wide stream about

ankle-deep with frigid arctic water. She was afraid and wouldn’t cross. We waited as the day slipped away from us and our destination became out of reach. Sidra contemplated her confidence while we contemplated an alternate route. After an hour of deliberation, she was ready to cross the creek at her own pace. Although we never made it to our final destination, we celebrated all the way back to the trailhead. She was proud. The old axiom still rings true; it’s about the journey, not the destination. As parents, we have to be willing to abandon a goal to reach a greater peak.


Make it a way of life.

Integrating nature into our everyday routine makes it a way of life rather than just a special event or a reward for good behavior. Plan and plant a garden. Put on a raincoat and walk to the park. Bundle up and make a snowman. The outdoors presents a world of discovery, invention, creativity, freedom, and education that every family can afford. You don’t need

money to explore; all you need is your curiosity. By using the outdoors as a classroom to demonstrate good stewardship, we encourage a love affair with nature. We lay the foundation for our children to have a respect for the environment that extends far beyond the days of building sandcastles and awaiting rewards from the tooth fairy. Just ask my daughter, who pointed to Mt. Jumbo, a steep, 3,500-foot peak, and said, “Mama, next year, I’m going to climb that mountain.” A year later, at 5 years old, she did. No tooth fairy needed. ● Deb Gregoire is a mother, academic

adviser, and hockey player. When she’s not climbing mountains, she’s planning her family’s first around-the-world trip in 2012.

RESOURCECENTER Join the Cradle group on PulseWire to share your own parenting wisdoms. | 57


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Activist ThroughBurnout His Eyes

The Uncomfortable Silence In his quest to end violence against women, former war journalist Jimmie Briggs faces his toughest audience yet.


everal months ago, my daughter’s teacher invited me to speak to her class about what I do for a living. How was I to tell a room full of squirmy first-graders that I am launching a global campaign to end violence against women and girls, using hip-hop and soccer? That I’ve gone from sometimes war reporter to human rights advocate? My own daughter has only the slightest inkling about my work, and the thought of facing her classmates terrified me. As I trudged up the stairs to my daughter’s classroom, I could hear the barely controlled chaos beyond the door. I opened it quickly and bounded across the room. Once the giggles, finger pointing, and poking subsided under the teacher’s laser-like stare, I cleared my throat and walked to the front of the room, finally leaning my back against the chalkboard. My daughter was sitting near the

vision of a worldwide campaign called “Man Up.” As I spoke, I saw my daughter lean back and smile. But I couldn’t tell my daughter’s class about all the suffering I’ve seen in places like Afghanistan, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’ve held people as they have died in my arms, and I’ve sat with women who have been raped to the point of paralysis. I also couldn’t tell my daughter’s class about my struggles as a man in a traditionally woman’s movement, because I barely understand them myself. I frequently meet with people to talk about my ideas for confronting violence against women, and I run into a lot of suspicion—as if I have an ulterior motive for doing this work. At one cocktail reception, a woman asked me, half-jokingly, if I was exploring this issue as a way to meet women. The stare behind her smile told me she was being more serious than not. My guy friends assume the same.

I couldn’t tell my daughter’s class about my struggles as a man in a traditionally woman’s movement, because I barely understand them myself. middle of the class, unsmiling and propped forward—unable to contain her anticipation. I took a deep breath. All I could do was speak to them as I would any other group and hope they understood. I told my daughter’s class the truth: I began my work as a journalist but will be ending it as an activist. I told them about traveling around the world to speak to kids very much like them, who are fighting and hurting each other, or who are being treated badly by the adults around them, especially girls. I told them that I didn’t like the stories I heard when I was writing articles or books, and about how I’m trying to get other people to help me give those stories happier endings. I told them that since the summer of 2008, I’ve been flying back and forth across the world to build a new kind of effort to end violence against women and girls. It’s the

Outside my professional life, I consciously avoid speaking about the work I do, because people expect me to be the embodiment of the “good guy,” the ideal man. I’m quick to cite a mother, ex-wife, daughter, and scores of frustrated ex-girlfriends who would eagerly agree that I’m anything but perfect. Trying to build a campaign, or a movement, is all-consuming. Most of the time I feel halted in social situations because all I’m really able to talk about is work, leading me to feel like “Debbie Downer” from the TV show Saturday Night Live, guaranteed to bring a festive mood to an abrupt, uncomfortable end. One night at a regular Sunday evening dinner party with friends and acquaintances, every time I brought up my work, or hot-button words like “rape,” “activism,” or “change,” one guest would

change the subject to the texture and taste of the dessert, or to the succulence of the roast chicken. Eventually, I made it a game to see what food item would be introduced next. As my talk to the first-grade class wound down, I asked them rhetorically, “Why do I care so much about what is happening to women and girls around the world?” The students all turned to look at my daughter as she began to blush and smile nervously. They got that I’m doing this for my daughter. I hope one day my work over the last 20 years for women and girls will mean something to her and her classmates. At present, my daughter only knows that her dad leaves for days and weeks at a time, returning only to leave again, just when we’ve become reacquainted. But I stay on the path because there is hope; there is affirmation in this movement of women and men. I see it every day when I read about the many men’s conferences on violence against women that are springing up on college campuses across the US; when I see the grassroots efforts that are struggling to be born in the unlikeliest of places on the Web; and when I witness the coalitions that are being formed between organizations across the globe. Amid the darkness I witnessed as a journalist, there was light as well, resting in the imaginations and faith of countless young people surviving in the worst imaginable situations. My purpose, the end goal of the Man Up Campaign, is to create the space for that light, and for my daughter and her classmates to be in it. ● Jimmie Briggs is a New York-based

writer, teacher, and activist, and is the founder of the Man Up Campaign. His upcoming book, The Wars Women Fight: Dispatches from a Father to His Daughter, will be published in 2011. Learn more about his international campaign to end violence against women at | 59

Funny how someone youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve yet to meet can teach you a lot about who you are.

800.424.8580 60 |

Life is calling. How far will you go?

© Keren Su | China Span

My Homeland

In the India That I love

Upon returning to her native Calcutta to tend to her dying mother, best-selling author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni uncovers what’s truly sacred about the country she left behind.

hurtled through the 2am Kolkata streets in my cousin’s car, through the winter fog that smothered the city and turned the streetlights a pale and sickly yellow. I was with my cousin Kaustuv and our long-time family friend Ganesh, who had picked me up from the airport. Now we were rushing to the hospital to my mother, who lay unconscious and near death. For the next few days, I sat by her bed, anxious, stressed, and frustrated by how long everything seems to take in India—the many bureaucracies that wind around even the simplest of procedures. But now, back in the US, what lingers is an appreciation for my birth country and its culture. Over the years, I have loved the India that is available to the senses: the bright colors of women’s saris; the fragrance of jasmine and tuberose garlands in the flower market; the pungent, spicy foods; the breathtaking green of the rice fields in my grandfather’s village. I’ve loved the noisy profusion of Kolkata streets where cows and auto rickshaws and Mercedes Benzs share the same space. I’ve loved the dizzying overpasses and new bridges and underground railways that coexist with ancient moss-walled colonial homes and centuries-old temples. But this time I realized these were all superficial. What is truly special about India is the extended and sacred notion of family. Even in these fast-moving, fractured times, family in India does not mean the nuclear parentchild unit we see most commonly in the West. Hearing of my mother’s illness, my 80-year-old uncle and his wife travelled hundreds of miles to be with me and provide emotional support—even though they had been in the middle of moving

I have loved the India that is available to the senses: the bright saris, the fragrance of tuberose garlands in the flower market, the breathtaking green of the rice fields in my grandfather’s village. But I realized these were all superficial. house. My cousin canceled a crucial business trip so he could help me talk to the doctors about my mother’s treatment. On my recent trip, I was reminded that the concept of family in India isn’t limited to blood ties. My mother’s friends (whom I call “aunties,” according to Indian custom) called our home every day to find out how she was doing, offering prayers, company, food, and rides to the hospital. My mother’s helpers tried to make me as comfortable as possible. They enticed me to eat by fixing my favorite dishes. They accompanied me on morning walks so I would get some exercise. They made me go to bed on time so I would get enough rest. They fielded phone calls so I would not have to say, over and over, that my mother was getting worse, that things did not look good. They went to the bazaar to pick up little treats that they thought my husband and children in the US would like. They packed these treats into my suitcase. Ganesh took entire weeks off work, in spite of a demanding job, so that I wouldn’t have to be at the hospital alone. My own friends from college days made time to come to the hospital or to the house and sit with me—often for hours in silence because I didn’t feel like talking. And they did all this spontaneously, graciously, and willingly,

because that’s what “family” does for you. Could I have done as much for them in the US, if our roles had been reversed? I don’t know. When my mother passed away, carloads of people from our ancestral village—some distantly related to us, some not at all—came to Kolkata to pay their respects to her and to take the body back to the village for the last rites, as she had wanted. They covered my mother’s body with marigolds and chrysanthemums and chanted prayers for her soul. They told me all the ways in which she had helped them—things I hadn’t ever known about. They assured me that although my mother was gone, whenever I decided to visit India, I would have a home with them, for as long as I wanted. I felt their love enveloping her—and me. Halfway around the world, I feel that caring, still. It doesn’t matter that I hardly knew many of these people. To them, I was family, and in the India that I love, that’s what counts. ● Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

is an author of fiction, poetry, and children’s books. Her works include the best-selling novels The Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, and The Palace of Illusions. Her most recent novel, One Amazing Thing, was released this February. | 61

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Global Gatherings

Global Gatherings Pull up a chair at 2010’s most anticipated conferences for women.

Women Deliver

Man Up Youth Summit

Delivering Solutions for Girls and Women June 7 - June 9, 2010 | Washington, DC

July 5 – 9, 2010 | South Africa

Women Deliver 2010 is based on the belief that women are at the economic heart of the developing world. This year’s conference—timed to send a strong message to the G8 Summit and the United Nations General Assembly on Millennium Development Goals (MDG)—will bring together experts and creative thinkers to ensure that world leaders uphold the key MDGs that most impact women. Topical discussions ranging from climate change to maternal health will focus on developing long-term solutions to improve the lives of women and girls. Register at

On the occasion of one of the largest gatherings in the world, soccer’s World Cup 2010, Man Up will host a three-day global youth summit to tackle violence against women. The summit will bring together a diverse group of 200 young men and women aged 18 - 30 representing 32 World Cup competing nations and 19 at-risk countries to discuss, plan, and begin implementing projects designed to address VAW in the delegate’s home communities. Find out more at

Santa Fe International Folkart Market July 9 – 11, 2010 | Santa Fe, New Mexico With 170 folk artists from over 50 countries, the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is the largest event of its kind. Browse beautiful, handmade products and chat with women from all around the world about their communities and their crafts. 90% of sales go to the artists themselves, and the impact is profound; proceeds earned at previous markets have helped to build schools, wells, and health clinics in a number of countries. Read more at

Omega Institute Women & Power: Our Time to Lead September 24 - 26, 2010 | Rhinebeck , New York Join World Pulse columnist Zainab Salbi, human rights leader Malika Saar, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, and songwriter Ani DiFranco as they come together to strengthen women’s leadership. Omega’s Women & Power conferences have been at the forefront of the movement for the last eight years, and this fall’s conference promises to wow and engage, while providing steps you can take to help women around the world. Find out how you can participate at | 63

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BOOKS Blogging the War In Iraq A young Iraqi girl on what it’s like to grow up under military occupation. by Tracey D. Samuelson

hat must life be like when war is a constant rather than an aberration? How has it been for a whole generation of young people who have come of age more familiar with war than with life without it? These are the questions an Iraqi teenager known only as Hadia sought to answer when she began blogging in July 2004. Now Hadia’s blog entries have been collected, edited, and published in the new book IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq. “Even today, there is nothing called plans in our life; everything goes unexpectedly,” she explains to World Pulse. “But inside each Iraqi person, there is a dream waiting to be done; there is a soul having the right to live a normal life, to explore the universe, to be a part of the future.”

I want to be a normal girl again, living a normal life.

Hadia writes of bomb explosions that delay her father on his way home from work, of trying to study for her exams amid frequent power outages, and of the sense of imprisonment she feels in her Mosul home. “I can’t forget that during Saddam’s time, we would go to eat ice cream every day after midnight,” she wrote on her site in October 2007. “I want to be a normal girl again, living a normal life.” Hadia wants readers to know that living in Iraq today means living with killings, kidnappings, shootings, explosions, roadblocks, and checkpoints. She reminds us that during the first days of the US invasion, she slept with a knife under her pillow and closed her eyes to avoid seeing dead bodies in the street. While Hadia says conditions in Mosul have only gotten worse since the start of the war, she tries to stay optimistic. Today’s troubles are “only a passing thing,” she writes, adding, “*I hope*” with the casual punctuation characteristic of her age. While living with war has made her more mature than many her age, it hasn’t stripped her of her youthful optimism. It’s this brightness that makes Hadia’s book an ideal tour guide, a pleasant companion on an often dark and troubling ride. After all, if she and others in her generation remain hopeful for the future of Iraq, so, too, should the rest of us. ●

A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman Lisa Shannon | Seal Press, 2010 | Democratic Republic of Congo

Just before her 30th birthday, Lisa Shannon was living a “normal” American life. Victorian bungalow, successful business, perfect fiancé. But with her father’s death and the ensuing depression, she couldn’t erase the images in her mind from an Oprah show on the atrocities of life for women in the Congo. Lisa has since dedicated her life to raising money to support women in this war-ravaged nation, where rape and brutality are a daily threat. A Thousand Sisters takes you on her journey deep into the Congo and provides insight into love, survival, friendship, and war.

66 |

A Woman Among Warlords

Malalai Joya | Scribner, 2009 | Afghanistan Malalai Joya’s story could have easily ended as a quick headline about Afghanistan’s promising young parliamentarian, a symbol of budding freedom and women’s progress. In A Woman Among Warlords, Malalai Joya tells her version of the story, which is not so neatly packaged. She unravels a complex history of occupation that sheds light on the current situation. Banished from her elected position in Parliament for her outspoken views, Joya is quick to remind us that this is not her story alone, but the story of multitudes of silenced Afghan women. Thanks to her book, Joya’s victories belong to women the world over.

The Thing Around Your Neck

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | Knopf, 2009 | Nigeria Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie follows up her acclaimed novel Half a Yellow Sun with this bold short-story collection. The soul of the work lies in the heartfelt and occasionally surprising encounters between individuals across lines of class, ethnicity, and nationality. In “A Private Experience,” two strangers comfort each other in an abandoned store while their respective clans riot against each other outside. Each of Adichie’s stories is a sanctuary for the workings of the human heart, and her protagonists are infused with a spirit that shines through gut-turning violence, the posturing of “big men,” and the ugly trappings of greed.

Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers Arundhati Roy | Haymarket Books, 2009 | India

Arundhati Roy turns a critical eye on the fairytale of Indian democracy. In Field Notes on Democracy, she looks at several significant moments in India’s recent history. From the genocide in Gujarat, the lawless state of Kashmir, and the perversion of the Rule of Law in India’s Supreme Court, this collection is as diverse as it is engaging. Throughout, Roy casts aside the overblown triumphs of India’s growing upper and middle class to expose the underbelly of development. Loyal fans and newcomers alike will welcome Arundhati Roy as an eloquent and spirited guide through the realities of modern India.

Goddess Shift

Stephanie Marohn | Elite Books, 2010 | Global This jam-packed volume features inspiration from some of the world’s most influential women. It offers a delightful range, bringing together movers and shakers like Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Angelina Jolie, Aung San Suu Kyi, Michele Obama, and Starhawk, along with 37 additional women transforming our world. Covering subjects from the arts to healing practices, from chocolate to social justice, from tennis to personal finance, and everything in between, Goddess Shift is an indispensable compendium of women’s wisdom.

The Generosity Plan

Kathy LeMay | Beyond Words, 2010 | USA The word “philanthropist” calls to mind a barrage of images—elite, wealthy, seasoned, powerful. But in her first book, The Generosity Plan, activist and self-proclaimed generosity adviser Kathy LeMay calls for a revitalization of the way we think about giving. Her message: Everyone can make a difference. Here LeMay offers a practical, step-by-step guide to both finding what inspires you and choosing how you can most effectively use your time, talents, and treasure to create a more just and generous world. | 67

MUSIC Hip-Hop with a Cause Sister Fa uses hip-hop to educate the world about female genital mutilation. by ERin dhruva, tracey samuelson


© Michael Mann

ocially conscious hip-hop? No, it’s not an oxymoron. It’s Senegalese hip-hopper Sister Fa. She’s just released a new album, Sarabah, and she’s packing her bags for a three-week tour in her home country. But she’s not touring just to promote her music. She’s traveling on her second “Education Sans Mutilation” tour, which provides education about the dangers and risks of female genital mutilation. “I just decided I’m already a victim [of this practice],” explains Fa. “But if I can do something to protect all of the small girls in the future, I would even give my blood for it.” Fa grew up in Senegal listening to French and American hip-hop. At an early age, she realized hip-hop was an effective way to express the strong feelings of injustice welling up inside her. “It was the only option I could use to express myself as a musician,” she says. Her early focus was on the unacceptable situations she saw in her immediate surroundings—lack of money for healthcare, no electricity for weeks. After moving to Berlin in 2006, her message evolved. “Since I am outside of my country, I can now see all of this stuff from my country,” she says. “It is one of the [things] that gives me more power.”

I must protect these girls. Now she holds benefit concerts, sells CDs and T-shirts, and even uses her own salary to get the message out about the risks and consequences of FGM. She is especially interested in reaching the areas of Senegal without Internet, schools, or electricity. “I must protect these girls,” she says, her voice heavy with compassion and duty. “I just feel like [I] must do it.” It’s a message Fa hopes other women will embrace as well. She preaches that doing good has its own rewards. “Never give up [or] close your eyes, even if you have to spend your own money,” she says. “Always feel good because you should know this energy and all of this work you’re doing, it’s saving, it is something positive. It’s always good to have something than nothing.” ●

Concrete Jungle

Nneka | Yo Mama’s Recording Co., 2010 | Nigeria/Germany With an urgent, seductive voice that glides easily between rapping and crooning, Nneka has drawn comparisons to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. But there’s something entirely new about her blend of song and revolution. She’s equal parts hip-hop artist and sultry songstress, and her lyrics—influenced heavily by Nigeria’s political struggles—evoke both angry dissident and elegant philosopher. “I do it in a sweet way,” Nneka writes on her website. “But I sing to speak the truth.”

68 |

La Bodega

Totó La Momposina | Astar Artes, 2009 | Colombia With La Bodega, Totó La Momposina—one of Colombia’s most well-known artists—pays tribute to the cultural legacy of her native village of Talaighua with a collision of African, Indian, and Spanish rhythms. Often called the grandmother of Afro-Colombian song, La Momposina has been celebrating her indigenous roots through music for more than two decades. Textured, brassy rhythms grace her sixth studio release—making it a high-energy study in Latin musical traditions perfect for the dance floor.

Beauties Never Die

Sissy Wish | Afternoon Records, 2009 | Norway Dreamy pop melodies and quirky style make Sissy Wish one of Norway’s most intriguing—and eccentric—musicians. Her third album, Beauties Never Die, is an electric mix of sweaty vocals and synthesized beats reminiscent of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and Scotland’s Cocteau Twins. If you’re looking for music to move to, Sissy Wish is it.

Zebu Nation

Razia Said | Cumbancha Discovery, 2010 | Madagascar Zebu Nation was conceived during a six-week journey across Madagascar, in which Razia surveyed the devastation that slash and burn agriculture and climate change wrought on her homeland. What she saw—scarred landscapes, disappearing forests, and ravaged communities—inspired this moving and intense collection of songs. French accordions, contemporary jazz drums, and Ibizan percussion accompany Razia’s native Malagasy language to create a powerful soundtrack for Mother Earth.

Zee Avi

Zee Avi | Brushfire Records, 2009 | Malaysia On her self-titled debut Zee Avi delivers intimate tunes suggestive of Norah Jones—romantic and light in spirit. The singer, who was born in Borneo and raised in Kuala Lampur, brings a unique sound characterized by smokey vocals, the occasional ukelele, and a saturated emotional palette. Avi’s richly expressive voice carries the bare-bones lyrics and instrumentation to beautiful effect. Such a strong showing in her first album suggests good things to come for the bright 23-year-old who got her start on YouTube.

The Element of Freedom

Alicia Keys | J Records, 2009 | USA With her solid fourth studio album, Keys sets another gold standard for soul. Raw, emotional, and soaring, this renowned US songwriter draws from a recent loss of a family member to deliver a work of remarkable strength and vulnerability. Keys casts a spell with her backbone of downtempo, naked piano ballads and then spikes them with bright, punchy dance tracks. The real beauty, however, is when she pulls away from her noisy collaboration with Jay-Z to lay down an elegant ode to New York City. This nostalgic rendition would make anyone want to head to the Big Apple, even if you’ve recently fled it. | 69

FILMS Focus on Babies A director travels around the world to show just how universal love is. by Tracey Samuelson, Rebecca Snavely

t started with a simple idea: a wildlife film on babies—human babies. With that, director Thomas Balmes headed to four very different corners of the globe—Namibia, Tokyo, Mongolia, and San Francisco— to film babies from their first weeks of life to their first steps. The result is a stunning film without commentary or translation, just the simple, universal images of children discovering the world around them and their place in it. “The tiny, tiny things in life can be as fascinating as the biggest, if you take the time to look at them,” explains Balmes. The film’s focus may be on the tiny, but Balmes had some heavy-weight help with Babies. He had the backing of Focus Features, the studio known for its ability to take its arthouse aesthetic mainstream with such films as Brokeback Mountain and Lost in Translation. But that didn’t mean that Balmes didn’t find himself shooting with a skeleton crew in the Namibian dessert. He did the camera work alone and trained locals to do the audio. It’s that simple, no-frills style that gives this film its defining sense of understated grace. “[My films] are more about raising questions than giving answers,” says Balmes. “I make nonfiction films because I love challenging my ideas and expectations daily, and arriving at totally different conclusions than I could have expected.” Though the film takes the viewer from the seeming extremes of a Mommy & Me Yoga class in San Francisco to baby’s first haircut with a straight edge-knife in Mongolia, the cohesion, humor, and similarities of the stories are seamless. We cheer as the babies take their first toppling steps and laugh as patient goats, dogs, and cats allow the babies to box their ears and pull their tails.

The tiny, tiny things in life can be as fascinating as the biggest, if you take the time to look at them.

Each experience is so specific to its location and yet simultaneously universal. As mothers both protect and provide the freedom for the babies to grow and explore their worlds, Babies reminds us of the uniting power of love. “Wherever you live, whatever you do, whatever your surroundings—if you are loved, you should be okay,” says Balmes. ● Babies will be released nationwide May 7, 2010.

Unveiled Views

Alba Sotorra Clua | 2009 | Afghanistan/Pakistan/Turkey/Bosnia/Iran Unveiled Views is the story of five female visionaries, warriors, and artists. There’s a Turkish human rights lawyer who responds to death threats by lifting her voice in song, a young Afghan poet forbidden from going out alone in public who paints poems on rocks, and a Bosnian woman who creates art out of her work of clearing minefields. A Pakistani woman exiled for teaching dance returns to her country to share her gift, and an Iranian filmmaker protests from behind the lens. Together, they forge an inspiring ode to self-expression and creativity in the face of violence and oppression.

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Joe Berlinger | Entendre Films, 2009 | Ecuador Marina Aguinda, an elder of Ecuador’s Cofán tribe, opens Crude with a poignant song. “What will become of my people?” she sings. Since the ‘60s they’ve suffered the environmental consequences of oil extraction, and their class-action lawsuit against Chevron, formerly Texaco, is the subject of this powerful documentary. While lawyers argue back and forth over who is responsible for the mess, the devastating impact of the oil industry becomes visceral. We witness rashes and cancers, and we cringe as community members drink from oil-slicked waters. Ultimately, Aguinda’s question remains unanswered, and we learn the case may continue to drag on for years. But Crude delivers a guilty verdict to Chevron as it pans from company lawyers spouting blame-shifting rhetoric to the faces of the Cofán people demanding justice.

El General

Natalia Almada | Women Make Movies, 2009 | Mexico In El General, a set of tapes inherited from her grandmother launches director Natalia Almada on a journey through family memory and Mexico’s troubled past. Without shying from accusations of brutality, the film explores the legacy of Almada’s great-grandfather Plutarco Elias Calles, a former Mexican president. Through her grandmother’s testimony and street scenes of modern-day Mexico City, El General explores Mexico’s timeless distrust of elected leaders, while lovingly—and honestly—providing tribute to one of Mexico’s most controversial figures.

Tapestries of Hope

Michealene Cristini Risley | Fresh Water Spigot, 2009 | Zimbabwe Michealene Cristini Risley and Betty Makoni share a powerful connection: They were both sexually abused as children and were told to keep quiet about it. In Tapestries of Hope, Risley travels to Zimbabwe to document Makoni’s Girl Child Network, a supportive community where child survivors can not only speak about their experiences, but shout, sing, and dance to work through them. It is the girls’ courageous and harrowing testimonies that command this film, but they leave no clean resolution. We learn in the end that HIV has claimed several of the beautiful lives we’ve been rooting for. As difficult as it can be to sit through this movie, it is even harder to stay sitting once it’s over.  Connect with the Girl Child Network on PulseWire!

My Toxic Baby

Min Sook Lee | Women Make Movies, 2009 | Canada Imagine a world in which everything in a child’s environment, from the product rubbed into her gentle skin, to the toys she puts in her mouth, are a ticking time bomb of dangerous toxins. This is the world that Canadian filmmaker and first-time mother Min Sook Lee explores in My Toxic Baby as she documents her struggle to provide her daughter a healthy and safe environment. The film gets to the Achilles heel of parenting: the fear that we cannot protect our child from all the dangers in life. Without dipping into paranoia, Lee uncovers potential threats in her child’s environment and interviews a number of other parents in search of practical and affordable parenting solutions in a toxic world.

Kick in Iran

Fatima Abdollahyan | Brave New Work Film Productions, 2009 | Iran Iran has a new heroine: Sara Khoshjamal, the first female to represent Iran in the Olympics. This revealing documentary is as much about Sara’s relationship to Tae Kwon Do as it is about her politically charged journey to the 2008 Olympics. At one point we hear a prayer leader decry women’s participation in international sporting competitions as prostitution and the first step toward fornication. Since women are forbidden to train with men, this is a woman’s world; supportive female relationships, especially between Sara and her Tae Kwon Do master, are central to this gem of a film. | 71


Browse our favorite products from unique and empowering women-centric small businesses around the world.

WOODEN BAG This unique bag, crafted in Ghana by JonBet, is made of alternating wooden slats. The initiative was made possible by a microloan through Opportunity International. $54.95 |

Red Redefined Mary Janes These shoes are custom fit to your feet using organic cotton and vinyl soles, and are entirely vegan and made using renewable energysources. $78.00 | Hydra Heart for

Tibetan Necklace of Strength This hand-carved necklace is crafted by Tibetan refugee artisans living on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. Your purchase directly supports these families. $68.00 |

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Striped shawl

Eco PURSEs Handmade in Lima, Peru, these purses are constructed from re-purposed rubber, industrial carpet, felt scraps, and georgette. This eco-friendly sustainable collection includes clutches, evening bags, and purses. $40.00 |

This beautiful, multicolored shawl comes from BeSweet— an artisan group of over 200 villagers, mostly female members of the Xhosa tribe, in South Africa. Participants use mohair, bamboo, and organic cotton yarns to create unique designs that are socially and environmentally friendly and fashionable. Prices vary |

paxubão Earrings Aristan Suzana Rodrigues from Brasilia, Brazil made these earrings from a natural fiber known as “Golden Grass,” or “Caipim Dourado.” These earrings look like gold but are made from eco-materials that are grown only in the natural habitat of the Brazilian Savannah Highland. $15.00 |

Lulan HAND-WOVEN pillows Eve Blossom founded Lulan as a unique for-profit social venture, a creative collaboration between contemporary American textile designers and gifted Asian artisans. A tight weave creates a subtle iridescence, and intricate patterns demonstrate the mastery of their weavers, using ancient techniques to create contemporary textiles. $157.50 |

Visit our Marketplace at for more artisan businesses we recommend. | 73

Gossamer silk Wrap Avani women spinners in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas are behind these luxurious silk shawls. Women collect silk cocoons in the wild, then handspin and naturally dye the silk to create these fabulous evening wraps. They sell these shawls through the Barefoot College, which addresses basic needs of the rural poor. Income from the Barefoot College project has generated more than $250,000 for more than 400 rural artisans across 50 villages. $149.95 |

Fiber Necklace

Zulugrass Bangles Made in Kenya’s Rift Valley, these bracelets are made of natural elements such as fallen wood, grass, and porcelain. The initiative strives to protect the environment while providing economic opportunity to local Maasai women. $18.95 |

Cross-sections of coir wood and coconut chain are handwoven one link at a time to create this unique, sustainable East African piece. $89.95 |

Cambodian Purse Despite international recognition, human trafficking issues and sexual slavery are still pervasive in Cambodia. This bag was made by a women’s cooperative that aims to abolish trafficking practices in their country, while providing alternative employment opportunities for vulnerable women. $48.00 |

To be considered for our next Marketplace section, please e-mail: 74 |


Didi Bahini

TAMMACHAT Natural Textiles

Luxury with a Conscience Supporting primarily female artisans in Nepal, Didi Bahini, which means “Sisters,” partners with small fair-trade producer groups. We help artisans find markets in North America so they can support their families. Our exquisite selection of gifts include silver jewelry, pashmina shawls, Himalayan body products, handmade lokta paper, singing bowls, musical instruments, stunning textiles, and more. An additional 5% of profits are earmarked for projects benefiting disadvantaged women and children.

Handwoven Beauty Fairly Traded TAMMACHAT’s naturally dyed silks and cottons combine contemporary styling with traditional skills to bring you timeless fashion accessories and home décor. Each piece is exquisitely handwoven in limited editions. Each purchase helps a woman artisan in rural Thailand or Laos celebrate and sustain her culture, family, and community. t 902 624 0427 |

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BEYOND WORDS — Partners in Transformation

Focused Giving to Change the World Paperback • $15.00

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Available wherever books are sold, or at Follow us on Twitter, Fan us on Facebook, Read our Blog Beyond Words is Proud to be in Partnership with their Co-Publisher, Atria Books. | 75

A Special Thanks to Our Partners Our partners are leading organizations on the forefront of the movement for womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s empowerment. We consult with our partners for expertise and input on our coverage.

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2.5 billion people without adequate sanitation. 884 million people without safe water. We’re creating innovative ways to solve these problems. Ways that involve a rich tapestry of local communities, local governments, and local businesses.

When everyone has an incentive, things last. And a new approach can solve an age–old problem.

Find out how you can be part of it.

The International Museum of Women is an innovative online museum that amplifies the voices of women worldwide. We educate, create dialogue, build community and inspire action. Visit Economica, our newest online exhibition Join our global community Become a member

©Viviane Dalles | 77

Save the Date ~ Bioneers Conference San Rafael, California and virtually around the World

Bioneers Conference I October 15-17, 2010 Experience past Bioneers Conferences with our wide selection of CDs, DVDs and MP3s featuring Jensine Larsen, Alice Walker, Eve Ensler and

photo credit: Jennifer Esperanza

many more at For more on our Cultivating Women’s Leadership program visit Stay tuned for our 2010 line up of inspiring speakers at

Revolution from the Heart of Nature



Created for women presidents of multi-million dollar businesses, the Women Presidents’ Organization is an exclusive opportunity for accomplished business women to connect with one another to increase their personal and professional success. WPO members serve as an informal board of directors sharing resources, expertise and insights. By providing a highly individualized confidential environment, diverse female entrepreneurs collaborate to tackle a wide range of challenges – from legal to financial to communication – head-on.


Membership in WPO is a badge of accomplishment for women who have taken their place among the upper echelon of the business world. The WPO puts you and your business in good company. Stand proud with us. Join WPO today. To find out more, visit, or call 212.688.4114.

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National Sponsors Include: American Airlines – American Express OPEN – AT&T – Avis – Chubb & Son – Edward Lowe Foundation – Fisher College of Business Foley & Lardner LLP – GlaxoSmithKline – IBM – KeyBank – Principal Financial Group – Prudential – UPS – Wal-Mart/Sam's Club – Wells Fargo




Our project leaders are solving problems in their communities – see how you can support them

1 0 2 3 1 5 t h s t r e e t , n w • wa s h i ng t o n , d c 2 0 0 0 5 • 2 0 2 . 2 3 2 . 5 7 8 4 • g l o b a l g i v i ng . o r g

YOU INSPIRE ... Activism Hope Freedom


Justice Leadership


A Global Champion for Women and Girls for More Than 25 Years. | 79

3 Things You Can Do Right Now for Women and the Earth

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Plant for the Planet: the Billion Trees Campaign

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai recently stated that what we really need to do is plant a billion trees. Having planted 30 million trees herself, Maathai has inspired a movement. Last year, participants in the UN Environment Program put more than 7 billion trees into the earth across 170 countries. Trees are vital to our ecosystems, providing breathable air, drinkable water, fertile soils, and a stable climate. Pledge online to plant as many trees as you are able, then watch as the global tally climbs.

Help Fund Community Wells with Charity Water

In many countries, women spend an average of two hours a day walking for water. You can help reduce the burden by fundraising to build a well for a community in need. In villages with a clean water source, women average just 25 minutes a day supplying water to their families—freeing up time and energy for more pressing matters. To get started, join Charity Water and start your campaign. You can share your page with others to encourage donations, and whether you or your friends give $5 or $500, you’ll be able to see photos and GPS of the village water point that your money helped fund.

Join the One Million Women Campaign to Cut CO2 Emissions

The One Million Women Campaign has a goal of empowering 1 million Australian women to cut 1 million tons of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas pollutant triggering climate change. But why stop there? World Pulse challenges readers all over the world to pledge to slash your personal CO2 output. Visit the One Million Women Campaign to find out how you can alter your transportation and food choices, your household energy consumption, and your overall lifestyle to support climate action.

© Holly Wilmeth

Your World

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7 Models Ending Violence Against Women The Triumph of Women and Sport Same Sex Relationships Around the World Investigating Women-Only Spaces

World Pulse Photo Contest: Your photo could be our next cover! Submit entries to | 81

THE EarTH’s color collEcTion

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Issue Five: Earth. What's the Point of the Revolution if We Can't Dance; The High Stakes of Land; Daughter of the Amazon; Founder's Pulse: T...