Sharon Hanshaw

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When Hurricane Katrina hit East Biloxi, Mississippi, it destroyed Sharon Hanshaw’s home and the hairdressing business she had built over a lifetime. It also transformed her from cosmetologist to activist.

After casually attending community meetings of women, she started Coastal Women for Change (CWC), an organization that mobilizes women around rebuilding Biloxi right. Although the whole Gulf Coast was devastated by Katrina, Hanshaw believes poor women were hit hardest because they had limited resources to fall back on. Hanshaw’s work empowers women to be political voices in the reconstruction of their community, especially concerning issues of lack of affordability, emergency preparedness, and now, climate change.

Majora Carter meets Hanshaw and the women leaders who are stepping up to create the Biloxi they need. Hanshaw tells the women she works with, “I’m going to train you if it kills me. … You’re all going to be powerful women. Throughout this process, we’ve created more leaders.”


Stay in touch with Sharon and Coastal Women for Change.

Coastal Women for Change



Sharon is part of a group of women who are fighting climate change in their own communities.

See her story on Sisters on the Planet

More on Oxfam America and Sisters on the Planet