In partnership with Serengeti Preservation Foundation, we are bringing new forms of income to women. Our first program is supplying a women’s group with bee hives. They receive training and tend to hives, harvesting honey that to sell.
Women are largely responsible for managing the family, including sending children to school. Yet they have little income of their own and spend much of their time searching for firewood and carrying water. Giving them a reliable source of their own income empowers them the time and authority to take on more responsibility.
Why Women Have a Decisive Role to Play in Conservation
- Human population around the Serengeti is reaching critical mass
- Climate change is having an increasing impact
- Women are key to reversing both threats
- Empowering women and girls must should a priority
Population growth is a huge factor in reducing poverty, providing more opportunities for children, and protecting the Serengeti ecosystem. Tthe desire to have fewer children is something that can also grow organically as women get more education, better health and food security. When more children survive and income grows, there is a natural impulse for fewer children with better education. This means that despite the lack of an official top down approach, grass roots demand will grow under the right conditions.
For the two huge issues that face the larger Serengeti ecosystem, population growth and climate change, women have a remarkably powerful role to play. Educating women has a positive effect on reducing family size and improving welfare. And when girls stay in school they have a reduced risk of becoming pregnant.
Damaeris Seleina Parsitau, a recent visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution, knows this well. She is a Maasai woman with a Ph.D., the first Maasai woman to ever achieve this level of education. She says that in Maasai society, men have the power and women must remain silent. But after earning her doctorate, the elders made her an “honorary man,” and allowed her to speak. And now she is, advocating Maasai women’s education through her organization, Let Maasai Girls Learn.
Women also have a key role in climate change. A recent Brookings Institution article, girls’ education has an impact in several important ways:
(1) Focusing on girls’ and women’s education and health empowers them and helps stabilize population growth.
(2) Investing in girls’ education builds female leadership in society, and women leaders are “incredibly effective in conservation and protection efforts, and are more likely to pursue more sustainable futures for their communities.”
(3) women’s and girls’ education is important for developing skills for a green economy.
In short, for the great threats to the Serengeti from climate change and diminished human welfare from population growth, it is women who can have the greatest impact.
As Damaris Parsitau says,
“Girls from all over the world hold the key to our most pressing challenges, including climate change
and environmental sustainability. Studies suggest girls’ education significantly and positively impacts families and communities. Investing in girls’ education is imperative.”