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Grassroot women celebrating their achievements after a progress meeting. Photo Credit, Gloria Mariga. 2023

The pivotal role of women in climate action often remains unrecognized yet women play a vital role in tackling climate change.  

I was born in Kenya’s Uasin Gishu County and home of Mau Forest complex which is one of the water towers of Kenya and raised in Kakamega County - home of the only tropical rain forest in Kenya and UNESCO heritage that has seen destruction affecting water supply in counties around it. Over the years I learnt to appreciate that while climate change affects everyone, it does not affect everyone equally. Vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by inequity and marginalization linked to gender, ethnicity, low income, and other social and economic factors. When solutions to climate change address these realities, they are more effective. 

Article written by

Gloria Mariga is a female Natural Resource Management professional from Kenya. She is also a mentee with Engineers Board of Kenya and Mentoring future women graduates in STEM in Africa project by University of Plymouth and funded by Royal Engineering Academy UK.

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This is where women come in. We need women, in all their diversity, involved at all levels – from climate negotiations to boardrooms to forests and fields, especially in sectors and regions hit hard by the ravages of climate change like in my country Kenya.

As a female young Natural Resource Management professional I believe including more women in climate action, we can create a more sustainable and equitable future for all. I work closely with Kenya’s Grassroot and Indigenous women at the forefront of environmental conservation and have invaluable knowledge and expertise that can help build resilience and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When it comes to building climate resilience in communities, involving women is crucial. In fact, the United Nations reports that communities are more successful in resilience and capacity-building strategies when women are part of the process. Additionally, women are usually first responders in community responses to natural disasters, leaders in disaster risk-reduction, and contribute to post recovery by addressing the early recovery needs of their families and strengthening community building.

Leading a tree nursery management training at Kenya’s only tropical rain forest, Kakamega forest, with female Water Resource Users Associations. Photo Credit Gloria Mariga, 2023.

In Kenya, the labor force participation rate among females is nearly half at 49.7 % in 2022 however two-thirds (65%) of those employed in STEM occupations were men and about one-third (35%) were women. When provided with the same access to resources as men, women can not only increase their Prescence in the sector and improve world hunger, water access, climate adaptation and poverty levels. Just like the grass spreads while it grows, women can be used to transfer knowledge. 

Therefore, women need to be empowered with skills and knowledge on climate action. We also need mor female professionals who are highly skilled, motivated, connected, knowledgeable and mentored. 

This why the Mentoring future women graduates in STEM in Africa implemented by the University of Plymouth  and funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) was instrumental to fill the gaps I faced professionally and interpersonally to support me lead women groups effectively. I noticed that they faced almost similar systemic challenges I faced in my career including cultural norms that prevent them from practicing or participating in environmental conservation measures for instance amplifying their voices leaving women behind in opportunities that can empower them economically.

Training session with indigenous women from the Maasai Community on Environmental conservation in ASALs of Kenya. Photo Credit, Gloria Mariga, 2023

The mentorship process was a game-changer as it aligned my professional and academic goals and shed light on areas I had not identified. I still cannot believe the amount of transformation I have undergone in just seven months. It served as a bridge on how I relate with the grassroot women who are accelerators of environmental conservation. 

The frequent well-organized meetings, trainings and links to scholarships, jobs and grants strengthened my career goals. I gained insights into the challenges and opportunities within my career. The mentorship process provided a solid foundation through trainings and talks with various professionals on entry level career development, financial managements methods, leadership and communication skills. The monitoring of my activities kept me accountable to my vision and purpose. 

This has boosted my confidence, I believe in myself, my skills and capacities. I can boldly communicate, plan activities, train and guide better towards attaining SDG 6 through SDG 13. I have been able to train 500 women, including 150 grassroot and indigenous women, on development of eco-entrepreneurial business and Climate Justice action. It is incredible to see simple concepts like table-banking transforming their lives.  I have led initiatives that planted and grew more than 400,000 trees in the country in line with the International Youth Day 2024 theme Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World.

Additionally, the mentorship played a pivotal role in advancing my career to leadership roles, offering guidance on Curriculum Vitae restructuring and techniques to win in interviews resulting to a promotion to a Project Lead position where I overseeing multiple initiatives under the Women Earths Alliance. Balancing work and the mentorship program were tough. By learning to prioritize tasks it improved the effectiveness of my planning, organization and delegation creating a smooth balance between work, life and mentorship.

Grassroot women celebrating their achievements after a progress meeting. Photo Credit, Gloria Mariga. 2023

In conclusion, the mentorship process became an important part of the narrative that, An Empowered Woman Empowers Women. The process demonstrated the relationship between mentorship, personal and professional growth, towards breaking barriers to foster a greener resilient future led by empowered women.


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