By Helping Their Sisters, These Colorado Women Set Example for Their Daughters

Posted on August 05, 2013, by Marina Kaneko, Half the Sky Movement

The six working mothers behind the Colorado-based not for profit organization 7Sisters Global have mobilized their neighbors in innovative ways to raise awareness and ignite the cycle of change for women, especially bringing to light violence against women beyond the U.S.-Mexico border. What began as a summer book club in 2010 to read and discuss Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide has evolved into a dynamic group of civic-minded women in action. The women of 7Sisters Global are constantly innovating ways to provide help where it is most needed, all the while pairing action with awareness to improve the treatment of women and girls. Centered on the idea that women from all seven continents are sisters, their mission is "to provide hope, peace and prosperity, one sister at a time."

The six women who form the heart, soul, and muscle of 7Sisters Global, pictured here from left to right are Pamela Probst, Tammy Atchison, Paula Fox, Melinda Cudney Howard, Erin Swyers and Tina Benner. One of their earliest projects was a gardening initiative, started in 2010, in which they donate freshly grown produce to women who assemble birthing kits for expecting mothers in Kenya. Their activities have since grown into cross-cultural and cross-national ties linking groups of women in the United States and Mexico.

Working on building the domestic violence shelter in November of 2011

One of the main focuses of 7Sisters Global has been domestic abuse and violence in the lives of women in Mexico, a subject and area that is often overlooked in American discourse because of tension over prevalent immigration issues. 7Sisters Global has developed a close relationship with a domestic abuse shelter for women in Puerto Vallarta, having traveled there to construct the foundation and walls of the new shelter. The group now makes yearly trips to Mexico, bringing with them donations of medical items through Project Cure and the St. Andrew UMC church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. On the plane ride home, their suitcases are often full of artisan-made goods to be sold in fair trade markets.

7Sister Global’s booth at the Fair Trade Market

Since 2011, 7Sisters Global has partnered with three women’s co-ops in Puerto Vallarta, Chiapas, and Nogales, providing these women with additional economic empowerment by bringing their beautiful handmade goods to market. While the annual income of these women is around $200, the women of 7Sisters Global can make an impact on this number by purchasing large quantities of hand-crafted sandals, tote bags, copper jewelry and traditional Mayan textiles to sell at churches and other socially conscious venues around Denver, sending all of the revenue from sales directly back to the women artisans.

One of the artisans from Arroyo de Esparanza, a co-op in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

It’s amazing to hear how busy 7Sisters Global is! When these women aren’t volunteering with the Denver-based program FamilyPromise, which provides food and shelter for homeless families, they’re fundraising for Hope House in Denver, which helps 150 teen mothers and their children through GED programs and vocational training, or serving meals at St. Paul UMC’s soup kitchen in downtown Denver. They’ve even held self-defense classes for women and have donated formula to mothers living in the Northern Plains reservation.

Continuing construction work on the shelter in November 2012

These women show us that creativity and a boundless spirit to help can accomplish great things on the path to empowerment, safety and economic success for women and girls. Whether it’s through communicating a woman’s struggle against domestic violence or lending a helping hand during tough situations, the women of 7Sisters Global are proof that being a force for good in the community can take a number of forms, each paving the way for a new generation of sisters and empowered girls. As member Melinda Cudney Howard put it, "We are dedicated to making this world a better place for not only our daughters, but for daughters everywhere."

To learn more about 7Sisters Global and their past projects, visit their website and connect on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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