A VOYAGE TO WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT ON BOARD GREEN STEWARDSHIP
Due to the mismanagement of the environment, environmental degradation is on the rise and people’s livelihoods and economy are affected and they are vulnerable and desperate. As I child, I watched helplessly but was optimistic that someday, I will no longer be confined and will rise up to take action. Consumed with the drive to turn my concerns into action, I stepped out into the world of environmental stewardship and humanitarian activism in 2004. Accordingly, Environmental Management and Protection Network (EMPRONET) was founded. The Nonprofit organization started with a set goal of promoting constructive environmental ideals and practices through education, advocacy, consultation and cooperation. However, I was touched by the realities on ground which revealed that environmental threats have the harshest effects (causes stress and poverty) on women. I also recognized that most sustainable development efforts do not take the role of women into account and pay little or no attention to supporting them. This lead to a shift in approach, and my work and activities began to revolve around empowering women by addressing environmental issues that have direct bearing on their lives. As a measure of strategizing to meet women’s expectations, EMRPONET was renamed the Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE). Through WISE, I explore the potential for disadvantaged women to improve their social, economic and political status through developing and managing natural resources and also create opportunities for women to learn skills and take advantage of opportunities in natural resource management. Over the years, I have been involved in strengthening the roles grassroots women play in community resource management in addition to the traditional roles they play. As steps towards eradicating the poverty issues that plague women, I have directly and indirectly reached, engaged and involved thousands of women in issues of natural resource management/environmental sustainability through their participation in awareness, sensitization, mobilization and project implementation activities that address water, sanitation and hygiene, alternative livelihoods, domestic energy, and sustainable agriculture amongst others. Today, grassroots women in my community are taking charge of, enjoying and benefiting from this new found social power. At the local, national and international levels, my work has not escaped notice, as I have become a regular guest of the print and electronic media, an advise–giver of government and private organizations, a companion of many women groups and various communities, and an associate of many organizations working for social change. World pulse is one of the communities to which my work was introduced in 2007 by one of our international collaborators. Though on obvious grounds such as time constraints, self and career development pursuits, very unpredictable access to internet, I had not been disposed to exploring and maximizing the opportunities availed me by the link to World Pulse. With these constraints put behind me, and in spite of the non acceptance my views by some traditional men, I am set to let the world know about my flexible, timely and inclusive sustainable development activities and initiatives vis-a-vis women empowerment and vice-versa.