Having the courage to protect the environment in a world where one can and will inescapably face threats and naysayers, more so as a woman, is a huge task. There are many instances where women around the world have been at the lead in environmental activism, both on the ground and in boardrooms, helping to ensure a healthier planet for future generations. The vulnerabilities in the Environmental arena include poaching cartels, corrupt governments, and environmental destruction. There are women advocate for clean and green spaces and demand justice for the non-human world.
The first person that comes to mind when we think about the environment is undoubtedly Wangari Maathai. Wangari Maathai was a policy maker whom Kenyans proudly associate with; our Nobel Laureate. However, few of us know her story. Few of us know what she faced as she talked about planting trees, protecting our water towers, protecting our parks and protecting women and children. She was abused, scorned both by the government and even by fellow women, for speaking to the then president, who was a man, as this was seen as challenging the status quo. Her bravery was disdained by many but her message of hope and advocacy for women and environmental rights kept her going.
Wangari Maathai is one woman who has been an inspiration to the youth in fostering change within the environment and human rights sectors.
At first they will ask you why you did it, then they will ask you how.
For a long time, women in the corporate world have been recognized for the role they play as transformative leaders in the society. Business Daily, through Top 40 under 40 Women, seek to recognize women, who are below 40 and are headed for greatness. There is an entire blend of women who have accomplished a lot in whatever sectors they are in, be it in arts, the corporate sector, ICT, medicine, law, finance, beauty industry, media and even the environment sector.
Mazingira Safi Initiative, founded by one Purity Wanjohi, is an initiative that seeks to address the issues of littering by creating employment for women and the youth. Purity is a young woman who believes conservation of the environment is vital for the accomplishment of Sustainable Development Goals. Esther Nyawira Gitaka is one person who believes applied minds of young people are all we need to feed ourselves and future generations through sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural methods. Esther is a passionate and innovative entrepreneur being the co-founder of a company, Mushroom Blue, which has scaled the market by introducing innovative cultivation techniques that can turn coffee waste into a potent fertilizer .
Wangari Maathai’s legacy continues to live on through young women. This has been made possible through the Wangari Maathai Scholarship Fund set up in her memory aimed at developing action-oriented young people with strong values and commitment to the conservation of the physical and social environment in Kenya. Those who have benefited and continue to create great strides in the environmental sector include Claire Nasike, Sylvia Jemutai and, Unelker Bosibori, Elizabeth Wanjiru among other recipients.
How we use Social Media in our everyday lives to bring about effective change in the society is very important. Wangechi Kiongo has an innate passion for conserving our natural resources and planting trees. Her tweets are a buzz with advocating for the environment on an online space. Through the Save Lake Turkana Movement initiative co-founded by another young woman Narissa Allibhai, they were able to promote public awareness to help restore Lake Turkana.
Elephants are not only beautiful and awe-inspiring species but beings with personalities, families, and feelings as well. People who spend time with them and pursue to protect their habitats have a special place in this world. Susanna Maingi, Resson Kantai and Raabai Hawa are young women who have had the privilege of studying this species as well as advocating for their protection in Kenya and across Africa. These women are passionate about environmental education and awareness.
To the young people I say, you are a gift to your communities and indeed the world. You are our hope and our future. – Wangari Maathai
Many people work throughout the year to help preserve the environment for generations to come. These young women were chosen because each has an important story to tell. If you know of other women in the environmental and other sectors that are not necessarily corporate, you are invited to share their stories, or your story, by nominating these and any other deserving young women HERE for the Top 40 under 40 Women 2017 in Kenya by 31st August 2017.