We need more women in conservation!
“Women do a lot of things and they do it perfectly. However when it comes to conservation, they are supposed to be behind. Why?”
This question was not asked by a woman, but by a man called George Gathu. George is one of the staunch, male supporters of the new Lari Women for Integrated Development (LAWID) grassroot women’s group at the Kikuyu Escarpment IBA in Kenya. “If we educate our women, and we put our houses and children in their care, why wouldn’t they be able to lead elsewhere?”
George’s question came back various times during a two-day experience exchange meeting in February 2015 in Nairobi, which brought together the leaders of five small conservation projects in Kenya and Uganda. These projects, funded by Conservation International (CI) under its Women in Healthy Sustainable Societies programme, aim to provide a better understanding of the gender dimensions of conservation, and support women’s involvement in environmental decision-making.
As part of the CI-funded project, the women of LAWID were trained by KENVO (a BirdLife Site Support Group) and a local organisation called GROOTS. They learned about local resource use mapping, the application of locally relevant laws and regulations, and organisational management. As a result, they have produced physical maps of their environment, and are already advising the local authorities about issues such as tree planting, waste disposal, and how to make local natural resource management more gender-sensitive.
One of the LAWID members, Anne Gacambi, put it like this: “We used to be in the village, walking around like cows on a tether. We were not empowered. But now our minds are open and we became strong!” The group already has more than 45 members and has started a range of environmentally-friendly income-generating activities such as fruit tree nurseries, briquette making out of rubbish, and the production of fireless cookers.