When I was in High School, I used to spend most of my vacations volunteering (this seemed like a much more appropriate word, but actually, my dad did not like the idea of us being redundant at home during our vacations, so he took us to work) with an environmental advocacy NGO called Greenwatch. I would tag along as the team moved to sensitize rural communities about their environmental rights during that time. I also participated in judicial training on environmental laws and enforcement. I collected data and delivered letters, and I eventually developed a passion for environmental conversation. When I completed my law degree, I decided to specialize in environmental law and natural resources. I am currently the director of Greenwatch, a role I took up in 2019.
Until last year, I did not comprehend the critical role women play in protecting and conserving the environment. Being a part of the first cohort of the Women for the Environment in Africa (WE Africa) leadership program opened my eyes to many things. www.womenforenvironment.org
Starting the journey with the extraordinary ladies of the very first cohort has changed my life and my outlook about women working in conservation. In the past, women have taken up key positions in Africa’s society but not so much in the conservation space. We have a handful of women in environmental decision-making positions, which must change. Why must it change? Because women, particularly in developing countries, are both highly dependent on the environment and highly vulnerable to environmental degradation and crisis, women need to take a seat at the table and actively participate in safeguarding mother nature on whom they depend.
One of the ways it can pave the way for women to play such critical roles is by standing together as a collective. WE Africa is about a collective movement of women in conservation creating their table and filling the seats to cause a shift in mindset and distorting the norms and narratives that keep women outside the discussions that affect them.
In my previous blog, I spoke about my trip to Botswana. I traveled to Botswana for the first in-person WE Africa cohort 2021 retreat. It was an experience of a lifetime. For an entire year, twenty (20) influential women leaders from Africa embarked on a journey to change the narrative, empower, build and show up and show off to the world. We had never met in person before because of travel restrictions because of COVID. All our sessions were online, but we built such a strong bond that when we meant in person for the first time, it was like wires passing live electricity were connecting – electrifying! One of the big things for WE Africa is paying it forward. What we have learned, the experiences that we have lived, the courage and visibility we have developed is passed on to the next woman in the next cohort so that we as a collective can stand firm, each one of us connected to the home that we have built brick by brick. WE is our home.