Women of the World, Victims of Climate Change

EARTH DAY Reminder: Environmental iLARGE WATER IMAGEssues are also  gender issues 

Author: Allison Mercurio,  Board Liaison & Development Manager

You are a fifteen-year-old girl.

It’s Friday morning. You just woke up, crept out of bed and went to the kitchen. Like every morning, you grab a glass from the cupboard and fill it with water from the kitchen sink, taking a few big gulps. You wearily hit the Start button on the coffeemaker you filled with beans and water the night before and head to the bathroom for a quick shower.

You are a fifteen-year-old girl.

It’s Friday morning. You just woke up and walked out of your home, a room you share with your whole family. You put on your shoes, grab the machete leaning against the side of your house and begin walking down the path, humming along and taking in your surroundings.

You walk about 30 minutes until you reach a line of trees.  You hastily climb up a few feet on one of them and started chopping off limbs. Once you have enough branches, you hop down, bundle the limbs and scurry home with them as the sun is beginning to rise. At home you drop the pile of branches in front of your door, grab a bucket and run to the village well that is about ten houses down from yours.

You pump the well, fill the bucket with water and, balancing it on your head, you walk home, trying not to spill too much.

As you approach your house you see your mom outside already starting a fire with the wood you brought home earlier. You carefully set the bucket down next to your mother and run inside the house to grab the kettle. By the time you return, your mom already has a fire going. You carefully fill the kettle with well water, set it on the fire and patiently wait for the water to boil.

Your mom has poured the coffee beans she ground yesterday into the water and is letting it boil to make coffee for the family. You fetch cups for your mother, father, brother and yourself. You grab the water bucket again and pour what’s left into a pot to heat for your family’s bathing.

Both mornings consist of a teenage girl taking on the same tasks: drinking a glass of water, making coffee and preparing to wash up. Both mornings are starkly different. In the developing world women and girls are more dependent on natural resources that are threatened by climate change.  Women and girls typically are the family members who gather wood for the fire and water for the household meaning that they are disproportionately affected by global warming.

Because women and girls are spending more time and often traveling further to find fuel and water as resources dwindle with global warming, they are spending less time in school, working in the formal economy and participating in decision-making.

Global warming is a gendered issue. It’s important to remember this and continuously advocate for solutions that help lift women out of poverty and positions where they miss out on education and the opportunity to reach their full potential.

However you’re celebrating this Earth Day—whether providing funding for or volunteering at projects to end global warming– please consider not only how you can help the environment but how you can help end the gender bias inherent in environmental issues.

Image courtesy of Georgie Sharp


Kylie Schuyler & Global G.L.O.W. Girls Go!


EVERY GIRL HAS A STORY:  The HerStory Summit

Author: Lisa Anderson, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Women Moving Millions

Every girl has a story. She grows stronger and the world conversation becomes richer when she tells it, as the first Global HerStory Summit vividly illustrated.

There was Yasmina, a slender young woman from Nepal, who boldly told a packed auditorium, “No one has the right to think that a woman’s tears are her weakness.  They are her strongness.”

And Candice, a teenager from Detroit, who said she hoped women around the world would realize that “we are just as much a part of the world as men.”

“I want to live to tell my story. I want to live in all my glory,” Yasmina, Candice and dozens more sang out with conviction as the summit got underway.

One of the most moving side events during the United Nation’s recent Commission on the Status of Women in New York, the HerStory Summit celebrated the power of storytelling as a tool for improving literacy and emboldening girls to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve their full potential.

The event, which involved some 90 girls and 49 of their mentors from 10 countries, drew a standing-room only audience of over 300 people in a midtown auditorium.  The program was presented by three HerStory partners: NEWI, a Kenyan educational initiative for girls; LitWorld, a New York-based global literacy advocacy organization for girls, and Global G.L.O.W., a global literacy and mentorship program for girls aged 10 to 16, based in California.

Women Moving Millions member Kylie Schuyler, a former bond trader who has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, founded Global G.L.O.W. as a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit organization in 2011 and is its Executive Director.

She said her philanthropic journey toward creating Global G.L.O.W. began 10 years ago, when she was   building rural schools with World Assistance for Cambodia.

Although she helped build some 600 schools, Schuyler realized that families were sending only boys—and no girls– to attend them.

“That was my first wake-up call about gender disparity,” she said, adding that she found her calling in working to change that inequality.

Schuyler, through her work with World Assistance Cambodia and its offshoot program Girls Be Ambitious, knew that education and literacy are key to empowering girls in vulnerable communities.

The facts are clear and well-documented.

Girls who complete primary and secondary school are more likely to:

  • Earn greater income
  • Marry later
  • Have fewer unwanted pregnancies
  • Have fewer and healthier children
  • Be better able to lift their families out of poverty and educate their own children

Global G.L.O.W., an acronym for Girls Leading Our World, operates a G.L.O.W. House in Santa Ana, California. There, girls can find a safe space to tell their stories and improve their literacy and creative expression skills as well as work with mentors to enhance confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

In addition, through its many partners, Global G.L.O.W. works in 26 countries and serves over 10,000 girls around the world annually, Schuyler said.

The result can be seen in girls like Yasmina, the teenager from Nepal.  “My wish for women and girls is to be empowered not by others but by themselves,” she said.  Her advice to women and girls: “If they don’t give the power to us, snatch it!”