We foresee a world in which women powerfully participate in the development of global sustainability—thereby reducing poverty, encouraging democracy, promoting peace, and enhancing the social and environmental health of the planet.
Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) promotes clean water, healthy food and protected land in impacted communities worldwide through strategic investments in grassroots women's leadership. WEA’s programs are based on the belief that when women thrive, communities, the environment, and future generations thrive.
We link women who community leaders with the resources, trainings, and partnerships they need to build self-reliant, environmentally sustainable, and healthy communities. By amplifying women's knowledge, networks and leadership to create change, WEA aims to catalyze community self-sufficiency, women’s empowerment, and ecological health in underserved regions around the world.
WEA emerged from a meeting in Mexico City where 30 women leaders from 26 countries gathered to answer the question: What would it look like if grassroots women leaders around the world were supported and united in their efforts to protect our environment and future generations? This group stepped forward because of a deep concern for the health and longevity of our communities, and for the very future of the planet. WEA was designed to pool the visionary, solution-based efforts of women around the world, creating the platform upon which women leaders could break down inequalities, share working solutions, and protect our environment for future generations. Learn about WEA's Founding Story.
How we Work
WEA works to build solutions to global environmental challenges by uplifting the leadership of women. We work in underserved regions facing acute environmental degradation, including South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Native American regions in North America. We partner with women leaders in these regions who are working to develop solutions by linking them with resources, training opportunities, and advocacy support.
WEA does the following:
Listen and Partner. We identify underserved regions
disproportionately affected by environmental degradation and climate change. We partner with community-based organizations focused on women and the environment. We listen for local solutions and collaboratively define
where outside resources can help.
Equip and Connect. Within
these target regions, we identify instrumental women leaders and groups working at
the grassroots level to protect their communities’ natural resources,
livelihoods, and health. We invest in the long-term leadership development of these
women through training programs, advocacy support, or
Educate and Activate. WEA believes that strong ties of mutual awareness across cultural boundaries are a necessary precursor to meaningful societal change. We create multimedia, events and other educational tools to
showcase the power of grassroots solutions and to build a global a
platform of awareness, connectivity, and collective action.
Threatened basic resources. Over a billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty, suffering from the impacts of environmental collapse and living without access to education and productive employment. More people die from unsafe water than all forms of violence, including war. Almost a sixth of humanity is undernourished, and hunger is most widespread in the very regions where most food is produced -- the world’s rural areas. Climate change arising from dirty energy development significantly threatens vulnerable lands, where residents face increasing drought, floods, hunger and disease.
Business as usual: degradation and dependency. Traditional development schemes invest billions of dollars in “solving” or “fixing” these problems, often with flawed or short-lived results. These strategies are widely critiqued for failing to address root causes or solicit community input. Instead, they perpetuate inequity and dependency, funneling aid toward vulnerable communities without utilizing local knowledge. WEA's partners share accounts of outsider-generated projects that reinforce dynamics of distrust, dependency, or cultural inappropriateness. These stories always have the same ending: local communities are left out of the process, money is wasted, and projects fail. Although highly critiqued, this model remains the status quo.
Perhaps the most ironic mistake made in international development and environmental strategies alike is the consistent exclusion of women as core stakeholders. Although women are often cited as “target beneficiaries” or “underserved populations”, women’s critical contributions to food security, water access, community health, and climate adaptation is consistently overlooked, underfunded, and deprioritized. Instead, women struggle to equitably access training, funding, economic opportunity, and decision-making forums. This is despite significant research and numerous U.N. and governmental commitments that place women's empowerment as necessary condition for healthy, politically stable, economically sound, and environmentally safe societies.
Solutions to crises related to our most vital resources -- water, food and land -- require a drastic shift toward mutually respectful, community-guided approaches. The Opportunity
Women are simultaneously among the most vulnerable to ecological crises and the most poised to understand and address their on-the-ground impacts. The implications of environmental destruction for the world’s women, and the critical importance of women’s leadership in responding to these issues, can be seen in multiple arenas:
- Women and Food. In many communities, women as farmers and food stewards are best positioned to achieve food security, preserving food supplies threatened by disrupted weather patterns and ensuring their families' survival when food is scarce. Women manage approximately 75 percent of household food production in sub-Saharan Africa; 65 percent in Asia; and 45 percent in Latin America.
- Women and Health. Though women are uniquely vulnerable to the health-related impacts of toxic pollution, drought, severe weather, and climate impacts, women remain stewards and champions of family and community health. Though poverty and discrimination render women 14 times more likely than men to die in a disaster, women coordinate caregiving, administer traditional medicine, and respond to emergencies.
- Women’s Traditional Knowledge. Women's collectively-held knowledge about building wind-resistant structures, planting trees to address erosion, saving seeds, maintaining soil quality, and conserving water can and do protect vulnerable communities from the greatest impacts of flooding.
- Women and Water. Women worldwide spend a combined total of 200 million hours per day collecting water. Where water is scarce, women’s work time and likelihood of encountering violence on long treks through remote areas increase. Women’s empowerment around obtaining safe, clean water can support improved community and regional access to this most precious of resources.
- Women’s Civic Participation. Women are, by nature and by social design, on the front-lines of decision-making and trends around energy consumption, deforestation, population growth, and natural resource management. Women’s empowerment and civic participation in times of resource instability can support sound policy-making.
- Women’s Leadership. Women take coordinated, practical action for the collective good. As part of Kenya’s Greenbelt Movement, for example, women planted thousands of trees while receiving a small income and supporting the capture of hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
In the context of the urgent need for collective international action on environmental protection -- while leaders drag their feet and destruction proceeds apace -- Women’s Earth Alliance bridges women’s strategic positioning as resource stewards, knowledge keepers and community managers, with effective and scalable regional action toward solutions.