Women of S H E | Emily Wesseling

Emily Wesseling, a recent graduate of the University of Idaho, is dynamic and kind, and we are absolutely thrilled that she's joined the S H E team for a 3 month internship! Emily's background is in International Studies and French, and she spent the summer of 2018 in Togo volunteering for local NGOs. This fall, she'll also be starting her graduate program in International Affairs at Carleton University, so to say she's an asset to our team would be an understatement!

Throughout her internship, Emily will be evaluating the impact of our programs over the last three years and creating an evaluation framework that we'll use through years to come. She's also working alongside Francoise, our Togo Program Director, to further develop the S H E curriculum that we share with all our community partners to build environments where all girls and women can flourish.

We interviewed Emily for our Women of S H E series. Here are her inspiring words!

How did you first get to know S H E?

I first heard about S H E through Dr. Afatchao (Ro), an amazing professor at the University of Idaho. From the beginning, I was interested in the organization’s focus on girls and women in Togo, the ambition and determination that Payton, the founder, had, and the overall mission of empowerment. I had kept tabs on S H E over the years and contacted Payton to see about volunteering or internship opportunities. And now, I feel so lucky to be able to intern with such amazing women that are so inspiring while helping, in my small way, to advance girls’ and women’s empowerment around the world.

How does your academic background inspire your work at S H E?

I completed my Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and French in May 2020, with a focus on global resources and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to my fascinating coursework, I had the opportunity to intern with a non-profit organization in Togo the summer of 2018, which really propelled me towards humanitarian and development work. With a personal passion for girls’ education and knowledge from my academic background, ranging from human rights and the United Nations to climate change and environmental organizations, I feel like I bring a multidisciplinary approach to my work at S H E . Considering that Togo is a francophone country and many S H E employees speak French, having a working knowledge of the language certainly helps as well!

What is the most important thing for people to know about S H E?

I think the most important thing for people to know about S H E is that they are simultaneously ethical, sustainable, and successful. From paying above minimum wage to their employees, to recycling extra fabric from their dresses to make menstrual pads, S H E is proving that development can exist without jeopardizing the environment. Furthermore, S H E sees the world through a gendered lens, which benefits everyone - the individual girls sponsored and women employed, their families, and their communities. As said by Françoise, the Togo Program Director, “S H E is becoming a movement” - one of integrity, innovation, and inspiration.

What are your hopes for girls and women around the world?

My hope for girls and women around the world is that we continue to recognize and believe that we belong in places where decisions are made. There is a long way to go towards gender equality, especially in many developing countries, but I know that women and girls have an incredible amount of power that can change the face of present and future development. We can keep breaking down the barriers and defying the odds, because when women and girls rise, we all rise.

We'll be sharing more of Emily's work over the coming weeks, so stay tuned to learn more about the ways we're evaluating our impact!