Native Kenyan given second chance for global outreach
As a child and young adult in her native Kenya, TransCanada’s Pauline Ngure witnessed the heartbreak inflicted on young girls.
She grew up among neighbours and friends who discriminated by gender — daughters were treated as “second class” members while sons were given “priority,” says Ngure, an associate in Supply Chain Operations.
Some tribes preferred to marry off their daughters at the tender age of 14, leaving them with a life of drudgery and little hope for the future.
Shaken by that experience, Ngure joined CARE Kenya as a young adult helping impoverished women break the cycle by starting their own small businesses.
Mostly single mothers with no source of income, interest-free loans were provided to help them get started.
“Within a few months, you could tell from their faces that their lives had changed,” says Ngure. “They had enough food to put on the table. Some of them even managed to build permanent houses for their families.”
Ngure continues her efforts to end repression
Now in 2016, Ngure continues her efforts in helping women break the cycle of repression and desperation — this time as part of TransCanada’s global outreach efforts.
She is helping to coordinate the company’s participation in another CARE initiative — the Walk in Her Shoes challenge, a worldwide fundraising campaign to help women and girls living in poverty.
(In developing countries, women and girls walk thousands of steps each day for access to food, water and healthcare for their families — leaving little time for education or paid work.)
Celebrating social, cultural and political achievements of women
Says Alex Pourbaix, the Chief Operating Officer at TransCanada who was recently named the new Diversity Officer: “International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
“We know that a diverse and inclusive workforce makes TransCanada a better company, so we are committed to empowering women to achieve their full potential every day whether it is at work, at home or in the community.”
TransCanada has almost 2,000 women in their workforce today; meanwhile, 22 per cent of the company’s leadership roles are held by women.
Adds Ngure: “It really warms my heart to know that the company I work for is helping CARE. This is like a dream come true for me.”
“Yet my heart still cries for those women and children in Kenya even though I am miles apart.
“I can’t wait for the day when women and girls are treated with the respect they deserve in Kenya just as they are in Canada.”
Walk in Her Shoes Challenge raises money for CARE Canada
TransCanada employees joined in the effort, with a commitment to walk 10,000 steps each day from March 6 to 12 and have raised more than $65,000 (includes matching grants from TransCanada’s Empower program) thus far. The Calgary community has raised additional funds. With a 13:1 matching commitment from the Canadian government, the Calgary campaign exceeded $1.2 million as of March 8.
Funds raised will help with purchasing emergency transportation for the Tanzania Tabora Adolescent and Safe Motherhood (TABASAM) project in rural Tanzania, to provide pregnant women with transportation to health facilities where they can have safe deliveries.
In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, employees participated in a noon-hour walk in Calgary to the downtown Peace Bridge.