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Mashu Meets Kahea Pacheco WEA

The Mashu Meets series aims to connect you, our community, with the people that inspire our founder and team the most. As we continue to research the innovative ways that we can drive more meaningful sustainable and social change at Mashu, we wanted to spotlight the interesting conversations that we have along the way. 

These are the conversations that inform and inspire us to take on the challenges that we face in creating a more responsible fashion future. We hope they inspire you just as much!

Mashu Meets...Kahea Pacheco. Kahea is the Co-Director of Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) a not-for-profit organisation that catalyses women-led, grassroots solutions to protect our environment and strengthen communities from the inside out.

We asked Kahea a series of questions to learn more about WEA, the work they do, and why they do it. We hope you are inspired as we are by Kahea and the WEA organisation! 💚

What was the reason for founding Women's Earth Alliance?

While fires rage, sea levels rise, and our Earth speaks its warnings, a great wave of solutions is also rising. We started Women's Earth Alliance because we felt it was critical to fortify our world's grassroots women leaders who are doing the masterful work to protect, heal, and regenerate everything we love.

The WEA leaders—our friends and sheros working tirelessly in communities around the world, are preserving indigenous seeds and plant knowledge key to our survival; selling clean cookstoves that save lives and reduce the destruction of our forests; modeling the regenerative farming practices that will feed our planet; protecting our dwindling water sources; and more.

The recent climate reports tell us everything we already know: we are living in tremendous imbalance - in terms of wealth, natural resources, and power. One of the best ways to tip the scales toward balance is to invest in women's leadership. Take the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by 193 countries— achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of these goals. Only by supporting women and girls will we get to justice and inclusion, economies that work for all, and a thriving environment now and for future generations.

We love seeing how it is women that play the key role in executing climate solutions for WEA. Why was it important to focus on female led impact? And what (if any) are the benefits of educating women at grass roots vs men?

Although women are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis, their leadership has never been more pivotal to reversing global warming and all the threats it poses.

Where women have higher social and political status, their countries have 12% lower CO2 emissions and more protected land areas than in countries where women are disproportionately disenfranchised. In fact, Indigenous women’s decision-making in local forest management significantly improves forest conditions and conservation. And increasing evidence shows that women's empowerment, education and leadership could reduce 85 gigatons of atmospheric CO2.

Yet, the women who step forward to prevent environmental destruction and injustice face an uphill battle. Deep structural inequities and a lack of support rob women—half the global population—of their full potential to profoundly shape our communities, our values and the future of this planet.

Through your day-to-day work and communication with various women fighting climate issues at grass roots, what have you learnt to be the most repetitive catalyst for issues, and what is WEA doing to support in working towards a solution? (Or is the solution a larger, more global task)

The climate crisis is a result of many interlocking issues: the exploitation and commodification of natural resources, unjust systems that put profit before community and environmental health and sustainability (take our food systems, for example), racial and economic injustice, lack of recognition of knowledge systems and ways of knowing that have sustainably stewarded our earth for generations upon generations, and more. Here at WEA, we also recognize that one of the key interlocking issues is gender inequity, which serves as a continual barrier to solving the climate crisis.

Since 2006, WEA has trained over 25,00012,645 women leaders in 24 countries and reached over 173 million people. We seek out grassroots leaders working on the frontlines to protect their communities' natural resources, livelihoods, and health—then we invest in their long-term leadership through training, funding, and networks of support. Their powerful solutions ripple out beyond initial project investments, positively impacting communities, regions, and our entire planet—for future generations to come.

We're sure you have so many success stories through your work at WEA - we've read some on your website! Are there any successful projects that have stood out in particular in giving you that euphoric feeling of 'this is why we do this?'

A recent success story that comes to mind is the Women and Forest Conservation Project  which supports 180 grassroots women to establish indigenous tree nurseries, which provide the women and their families with sustainable, forest-friendly income. After a successful year of restoring and protecting 50 hectares of the Kakamega Tropical Rainforest—the last remaining rainforest in Kenya—the women leaders and our Women and Forests Program have been allocated 150 more hectares by the Kenya Forest Service Department to restore and rehabilitate.

At its inception, the project team, led by WEA’s East Africa Regional Director Rose Wamalwa, set a goal of growing 10,000 indigenous trees from April 2022 to September 2022. To date, over 34,000 trees have been planted, reforesting 24 hectares of the Kakamega Forest. 60 women leaders have also launched 28 tree nurseries and trained 44 more women in forest management—equipping them with skills in agroforestry and as monitors and protectors of the indigenous tree species.

You can read more about this amazing project here:

What are you optimistic about this year?

In 2023, we are launching new and exciting programs supporting women all over the world from Brazil to Mexico. We're continuing to deepen our work supporting women who are protecting and reforesting our worlds' forests in Indonesia and East Africa, women eco-entrepreneurs who are regenerating our food systems and holistic health services in the U.S. and Mexico,  and organic smallholder women farmers who are ensuring food, soil and community health  in India.

We encourage everybody to get involved and follow WEA on social media and through our newsletter so you can stay up to date on this important work!

You can donate to the WEA here.