Today’s grandmas are making a difference all over the world and if you don’t believe me, check out Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon by Paola Gianturco. Her beautiful book filled with full-color images, profiles activist grandmothers in fifteen countries on five continents who shared their stories with Paola through interpreters.
Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing Paola’s slide presentation and was so inspired by activist grandmothers in Kenya, India, Ireland, Guatemala, Argentina, Peru, and the Philippines who are bringing back old traditions, creating new ones and improving the quality of lives not only for their grandchildren but for all the people in their communities.
While Paola was working in Kenya and South Africa, she met so many grandmothers who were raising their AIDS orphaned grandchildren, she was inspired to wonder what other grandmothers around the world were doing. She set out on a two-year quest to interview the grandmothers in their own languages and record their conversations.
One of the grandmother groups in the book is the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in Canada. There are over 245 Canadian grandmother groups advocating for, and raising money for African grandmothers caring for AIDS orphans. These groups are coordinated by Toronto’s Stephen Lewis Foundation to which 100% of Paola’s book royalties are being donated.
Here are some of the inspiring grandmother activists from around the world:
- Grandmothers in India are learning solar engineering at the Barefoot College with the goal of bringing light to dark villages without electricity.
- Irish grandmothers are teaching their grandchildren to plant and cook healthy foods to reduce childhood obesity.
- In Senegal, grandmothers stopped female genital mutilation by gathering families together to talk about good and bad traditions.
- Argentinian grandmothers became storytellers and 2,000 of them volunteer to read stories to children in the fight against illiteracy.
- Filipino grandmothers brought a class action suit against Japan to demand justice for women who were forced into sex slavery during World War II.
- Guatemalan grandmothers established a child protection hotline that aims to prevent child abuse by promoting good parenting and stopping the silence on the taboo subject of sexual abuse of children.
At the end of Paola’s presentation, she explained that the grandmother movement is partly happening because of demographics. There are now more grandmothers on the planet than at any other time in history. In the U.S. one third of the population is grandparents, the majority of them between 45 and 64 years old. Everyday 4,000 people in the U.S. become grandparents for the first time and they can expect to be grandparents for the next 40 years.
Another reason behind the grandmother movement is the growing interest in the Grandmother Hypotheses, an evolutionary biology theory that women live past their reproductive years to help their grandchildren.
If you’re reading these inspiring stories and wondering how you can be a grandmother activist, start with your own grandchildren. You can teach them the values that you believe in and share some of these amazing grandmother stories with them.
What values would you teach your grandchild?