International Women’s Day celebrations in Sagalla
Report written by our international intern, Charlotte de Wolff
By now you are probably aware that farmers in Sagalla are affected by human-elephant conflict, experiencing recurrent crop raids by elephants at night, which affects their household supplies for the season. Elephants would stamp on crops and feed on them, leaving a small percentage of crops to the farmers. Men and women work together to deter elephants and both work on the farms. Aside from farming, women play major roles in their households by fetching water and firewood, cooking or taking care of their families. However, women’s contribution to agriculture and their role in alleviating human-elephant conflict is often overlooked or forgotten and they receive little to no credit for their hard work.
In the spirit of increasing awareness of women’s contribution to the local community and economy, Elephants and Bees decided to host a big event for the International Women’s Day on the 8th of March. We were able to sponsor all the logistics and T-shirts for the event due to kind donors from Seattle at the glassybaby white light fund with our staff supported by Disney’s Reverse the Decline Fund and EKCT.
During the well-attended event, most of the women said that they never even heard of ‘The International Women’s Day’. It became the perfect opportunity not only for the women of the Mlambeni Basket Weavers Mwakoma group to learn about the special day, but also to take part in the organization of the event by preparing lunch for everyone. Different guest speakers such as Madam Mwakina, Madam Buruburu, Ms. Mainge, Ms. Dafton, Ms. Njeru and Kennedy came to empower women and teach them about different successful economic enterprises in Taita region to show the different methods they can sustain their families. They explained how to convert locally available resources into sustainable income. Throughout the day, women had the chance to hear about soap making, briquette making and microfinance. This event was a step further to show and remind the women in the community that they play an important role in society, and that the world does not and should not forget their work.
Elephants and Bees works to empower women by giving them tools, aside from agriculture, that they can use to provide income for their family for example through basket weaving. The residents of Sagalla mainly sustain themselves from agriculture, which proves difficult with the high incidences of elephant crop raids or drought due to climate change. It is therefore vital to teach women other ways to diversify their income and in turn sustain themselves and their families. One such example basket weaving carried out by the women’s group called Mlambeni Basket Weavers in Mwakoma. The women in the group work independently with each woman choosing her preferred design and colour she wants to use for her basket. The sale of the baskets provides the women in the group with income.
During the International Women’s Day, the women sold most of their baskets to Wildlife Works who then sell them in Kenya and around the world.
Inspired by the words of Coco Chanel, I reminded the amazing women, “A woman should be two things, who and what she wants to be”, At the end of the day, the women were feeling inspired and appreciated which showed the success of the event organized by Maureen Kinyanjui.
It is important to continue empowering women because half of the population around the world are women, and as Jostein Gaarder said, A State that does not educate women and trains them, would be as a man that only trains his right arm, he cannot function well (Sophie’s World). We cannot work well as a society if only half of the population has the privilege to learn
- Human–Wildlife Conflict and Gender in Protected Area Borderlands: A Case Study of Costs, Perceptions, and Vulnerabilities from Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal), India Monica V. Ogra Gettysburg College, 2008.
- “Sophie’s World”, Jostein Gaarder.1991.
Photos by Naiya Raja