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  • Mar 08, 2017

Dipti Vaghela on Women's Power to Organize and Bring Change

Dipti Vaghela 

My background in mechanical engineering and product design, along with my family's roots in rural India, led me to spend a year volunteering in rural corners of India prior to graduate school.

There I fell in love with micro hydro technology while taking part in an installation in a remote village in the Himalayas.

I witnessed the connection between vibrant watersheds, local ingenuity, and access to clean, sustainable electricity. Since then, my focus has been to promote renewable energy solutions.

I'm inspired by women leaders in my family who have embraced traditional culture but also transcended it, including my great grandmothers and great aunts.  At the start of graduate school, two women environmentalists provided nurturing space to develop my own approach to engaging in my work, namely Dr. Karina Garbesi and Dr. Kamal Kapadia.  In recent years, women leaders of indigenous communities, such as Patta Dei in Kalahandi, and women who courageously offer support, such as Amy Goodman, give me much inspiration.

In the world of micro hydropower, Dr. Hedi Feibel is a beacon of light for me and many others. I've come across so many amazing women in my field, which tends to be male-dominated.  Any woman who works in the rural electrification sector has been a gem, at different levels -- technical, policy, community organizing, and caretaker of local natural environments.

Beyond climate, I try to find ways to reach out to and involve women who do not work in the climate sector.  Women in mainstream culture, who are intensely focused on their career and family-raising, are adept at understanding sustainability.  Yet, they have not yet connected how the well-being of our planet and the most marginalized of our societies impact their families.  But I am convinced that with appropriate exposure, these women can easily see how our lifestyles and consumption patterns impact our one and only planet.  And they have the power to organize, connect, and bring change.