“Women’s ability to adapt, to transform their lives and the lives of their families and communities, I've seen that all over the world.” As an international women’s rights advocate for the last 30 years, Karen Sherman has not only seen women transform their lives, she’s helped them do it. In her latest venture as founder and CEO of Virunga Mountain Spirits, she is creating jobs for Rwandan women as alcohol-makers, a profession women have turned to support themselves since the beginning of time. She has created a sustainable production process in conjunction with a local chip factory to make vodka from the region’s “unloved” potatoes. The process also gives back to the land and to local farmers by turning all refuse into livestock feed and fertilizer.
When a woman earns her own income she gets to voice decisions in her own life and make choices about where her money goes and to whom. Once this level of empowerment is established for women in Rwanda, they have potential to then start their own businesses and to lead their own communities toward change. A large part of Karen’s job as a womens’ rights advocate is to be a humble and respectful champion, recognizing that no outside force can create sustainable change in another country.
Women are survivors–of everything from war to violence to lack of opportunity–and have the power to rebuild their lives, as the title of Karen’s book suggests, “Brick by Brick.” Listeners of today’s episode will learn what they can do to get involved and support global women empowerment, misconceptions about social change and why cynicism and pessimism are luxuries.
Show keywords: #femaleempowerment #sustainablechange #creatingchange #RwandanWomen
Connect with Karen Sherman:
Book - Brick by Brick: https://www.karensherman.org/brick-by-brick
Virunga Mountain Spirits: https://www.karensherman.org/virunga-mountain-spirits
UN Women: www.unwomen.org
School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA): https://www.sola-afghanistan.org/