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Involve more women in decision-making, First Lady urges conservation entities

LIMURU, Kenya Feb 18 — First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has urged organizations involved in the conservation of the environment to include more women in their decision-making processes.

The First Lady said environmental degradation affects the wellbeing of all humanity noting that interventions require the full participation of all stakeholders.

“It will also require leadership and inclusive interventions from diverse voices because environmental degradation affects our wellbeing at the most basic level ranging from our need for clean air, clean water, food security and shelter,” she said.

The First Lady spoke on Tuesday at Brackenhurst Conference Centre in Limuru, Kiambu County when she opened the Pathways Africa 2020 Conference.

Pathways Africa is a platform that seeks solutions to human-wildlife conflicts sponsored by Colorado State University and Pride Lion Conservation Alliance.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta acknowledged the low participation of women in conservation efforts and urged for affirmative action to ensure gender parity in the area.

“Women make up 51% of the world’s population and we are responsible for every day decisions about food, water, security and health. Bigger participation of women in this space is critical if we are to meet the challenges of climate change,” the First Lady said.

The First Lady, who is a champion of wildlife conservation, said the leadership training for 30 women leaders during the conference has empowered them to participate more meaningfully in matters that affect their livelihoods, health and families.

“The experience here will expand opportunities for collaboration and innovation. It will promote a collective vision that will positively contribute to greater conservation impact across Africa,” the First Lady said as she remembered Kenyan Nobel Laureate the late Wangari Maathai.

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“We will forever be indebted to her for her relentless sacrifice. Because of what she taught us, we are reminded that lots of work still needs to be done to make the planet safe for our children.

“As I planted a tree this morning commemorating this Women for Environment initiative, I was reminded of Wangari’s passion for trees and the symbolic significance trees represent through their resilience even in difficult climatic conditions. This is what we hope to start with this program,” she said.

The First Lady said countries require strategies that engage all stakeholders for them to succeed in mitigating the effects of climate change.

“How we will live in the next decade is everyone’s business, it can no longer be the responsibility of Government, UN bodies or donors.

“It will require collective and sustained efforts from communities, from conservationists and individuals,” the First Lady said.

She thanked the organizers of the conference for thinking beyond protecting people from the adverse effects of climate change and including on the agenda, the empowerment of communities with knowledge needed to enable them reap sustainable livelihoods from the rich natural heritage.

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Administrative Secretary Joseph Boinett said the ministry is committed to gender mainstreaming noting that the country will only succeed in its conservation agenda by allowing more participation from women.

Other speakers included Wildlife PS Prof Fred Segor, Chairperson of Women for Environment Leadership Council Dr Winnie Kiiru and the CEO of Brackenhurst John Mckelvey.

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