Kenyan bamboo community celebrated the International Women’s Day of 2022, with a theme titled the role of women in the bamboo sector: a call for climate action for women by women.
In March every year, the world celebrates international women’s day, highlighting issues that have affected women in different ways. One of them is the impact of climate change and global warming. Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and degradation of the environment is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. In light of this, bamboo sector players of Kenya have recently commemorated this year’s international women’s day intending to appreciate the role of women in the bamboo sector development in the country and their contribution to the national effort to combat climate change and its impacts.
INBAR’s Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Programme Phase II organised the event, in collaboration with a community-based organisation named EcoGreen, and the Kenyan Forestry Research Institute. The theme of the event was dubbed the role of women in the bamboo sector: a call for climate action for women by women. Present at the event were more than 100 women and other participants drawn from government agencies, the private sector, farmer groups, and community-based organisations.
Mrs. Phylis Magina, Mothers’ Union President, ACK Nambale Diocese, who was a chief guest of the event appreciated INBAR for involving women in bamboo activities in Bussia county and she encouraged communities to grow bamboo as a cash crop to diversify their income streams. She alluded that women are the driving forces in any development, and bamboo is one of the non-timber forest products with enormous potential for women and youth.
Ms. Evelyn Anyumba, Director of Africa Rebuilding Savings and Credit Cooperative, applauded women members of EcoGreen – a community-based bamboo organisation that co-organised the women’s day event – for turning bamboo into products and eking a livelihood from the plant. She added that her organisation will work closely with community-based organisations to empower women through capacity-building programs and providing technical advice on business models. EcoGreen is a community-based and women-led bamboo organisation that produces bamboo products, such as weaving products, bamboo briquettes, bamboo culms, and planting materials. It aims to improve and diversify the livelihoods of women-led households and contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation endeavours.
Dr. Jane Njuguna, the Senior Deputy Director in charge of Research and Development at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, in her interview with a local TV about international women’s day, appreciated the support provided by INBAR in promoting the development of the bamboo sector in Kenya. She said that women play a significant role in environmental management, including consumption, production, and managing forests and other resources. She also encouraged women to understand their rights, especially in ecological management, to fully participate in women-led environmental projects and invest in commercial forestry.
The event initiated an interesting discussion concerning the impacts of climate change on women and how bamboo can be used as an effective resource to curb the dangers of climate change on society at large and women in particular. Women are increasingly being recognised as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources, which climate change threatens the most. As such, restoring degraded land and forests with the world’s fastest-growing plant, bamboo, can contribute to fighting global warming and has a proven potential to reduce its impacts. By so doing, jobs can be created for women and girls, achieve environmental sustainability, reduce poverty, and contribute to sustainable development. Kenya has over 5.1 million hectares of degraded landscapes, and bamboo is ideal for land restoration and also as a construction material. Planting and making use of bamboo gives women access to a potentially lucrative economic resource, and can help secure women a place in decision-making in political, economic, and public life.
This year’s theme for Women’s Day at the international level was – Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow – to explore ways in which women and girls are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response around the world, contributing powerful leaders and change-makers to a more sustainable future for all.