This year’s International Women’s Day-themed “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” aims to recognize the contribution of women and girls to climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response.
Gender equality can be defined as the state in which access to opportunities or rights is unaffected by gender, gender being both male and female.
When talking about gender equality and sustainability, women, in particular, are a big pillar. Women have been making history since time immemorial. They have been cited when it comes to life-changing scientific discoveries. For instance, Polish physicist Marie Curie was just 44 years old when she laid out a theory of radioactivity, the techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes. She also discovered two elements, polonium and radium.
In 1991, Ann Tsukamoto and her colleagues made a major medical breakthrough when they identified and isolated stem cells. This discovery has been vital to medical advancements, including the development of bone marrow transplants to treat blood cancer.
These were some of the women attributed to great inventions in their times. In the 21st century, we have women like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Libya’s President from 2006 to 2018, making history as the first elected female head of state in Africa. Then there is Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by a Taliban gunman when going home from school in 2012. Still, she survived and won the Nobel Peace Prize two years later, becoming the youngest-ever Nobel laureate.
Therefore, it is safe to say that women have been great contributors to the environment and the well-being of humanity. Women are generally more involved in practising this lifestyle regarding sustainability. Women are natural homemakers and have been particular and more attentive to what the family eats and its lives.
When women are given equal opportunities, especially in the work environment, policies and/or rules are highly likely to be incorporated into a more sustainable way of living and even working. Women are influential leaders who effect change and have the most significant influence on implementing sustainability practices.
KCIC has been at the forefront of engaging, supporting and involving women in sustainable agriculture, climate change, commercial forestry, waste management and water management. For example, the Greenbiz Incubator and Accelerator programme supports climate-smart businesses. Under the programme, women-led enterprises have benefited from training programs, funding and technical support.
One client who has benefited from this support is Nancy Makena, who practices fish farming. Currently, she has about 300 fish and numerous fingerlings. However, with help from the AgriBiz programme funded by the European Union and Danida, she will increase the number to between 700-1000 fish. This, in turn, will enable her to provide for her family and offer employment opportunities to other women.
Another beneficiary from the Agribiz programme is Naomi Njeri, who practices pig and dairy farming. She majors in selling dairy milk and producing biogas from manure. Through AgriBiz, Nancy has expanded her enterprise and ventured into crop farming.
As the world celebrates women, we should not forget that tomorrow’s sustainable future lies in equal distribution of resources, time, wealth and even knowledge between the genders.