In Celebration of International Women’s Day 2018 – an interview with Women in Conservation in Kenya

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate all the women in our lives, across the world.

In March, SCC met with a variety of women who are involved in, by living and working on, Borana Conservancy. Being a woman in Kenya can often have its challenges, and many women have become empowered by their work on the Conservancy.

The Borana Conservancy is the non-profit conservation organisation dedicated to the sustainable conservation of critical habitat and wildlife. Borana’s mission is to provide a sustainable ecosystem, in partnership with our neighbours and community, for critically endangered species on the brink of extinction.  The conservancy’s holistic approach commits tourism, ranching and other enterprises to building local livelihoods and enhancing ecosystem integrity.

On Borana Conservancy sits Borana Lodge and Laragai House, which both support the conservancy through guest’s conservancy fees. Borana Lodge is also a ‘not-for-profit’ lodge, which means that all the profit made by the lodge goes straight back into the Conservancy to ensure its work can continue.

To learn more or to stay at either or the properties, get in touch with SCC here.

Check out the inspiring women we spoke to on Borana Conservancy and how they are working to protect their land, wildlife and culture through their work.

As a thank you for the time given by the women, SCC will be making a donation to Borana Conservancy, in their name. If you want to do the same, donate through SCC website here.

Nicky, co-owner of Borana Conservancy and Riding Wild

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

‘I am married to Michael, the owner of Borana Conservancy and have lived here with him and my family for a lot of my life. I run Riding Wild, which allows guests to ride on horseback on Borana Conservancy – which is such an amazing way to see the landscape and wildlife.’

How important is the work that is happening on Borana Conservancy?

‘The work that is happening on Borana is of massive importance and cannot be underestimated. The conservancy protects the land, the wildlife and helps to promote the communities that live in the area in a sustainable manner. It is so important to make sure the whole community feels a part of the conservancy, not just the people who live or work here. Without their support, the area and its wildlife will not survive.’

How does Borana Conservancy encourage women to get involved?

‘Borana encourages women hugely – many of the staff in the lodges on Borana are women, and many of their jobs are done best by women – women are kind and interested and can make a guest feel at home in an instant. Women are also keen to learn and improve their skills to become better at their job, which in turn means we are seeing more women in management roles.

However, it can also be said that conservation is still very much a ‘man’s world’ and this can be intimidating for a woman looking to join ranks. Currently we do not have any women rangers – the work is very physically demanding and in many parts of the job, the rangers need to be very strong – however that does not mean Borana Conservancy would not be interested in recruiting a woman as a guide or spotter for a safari vehicle. The Conservancy is open-minded and always ready to change for the better.’

What can women achieve if given the chance?

‘Given the chance, women are unstoppable! They should be given the chance to rise and seize any opportunity that comes their way.’

Monica Amoria, Borana Conservancy HQ administration

Tell us a little bit about yourself: 

‘I am Monica, I am from Isiolo (northern Kenya) but I went to a girls school in this area but I had to drop out because my family could not afford the school fees. I am now working in the Borana HQ office.’

How did you start to work on Borana Conservancy?

‘I started on the Conservancy working in the HQ office washing dishes and making tea. However, I then started to assist the office with administration work, such as filing, which is what I do now. I like working inside the office of Borana Conservancy because the office does good work. We have good guides working here, we provide security for the area and we help to look after the animals that live here. The animals need looking after from poachers. Poachers come to pick and take the animals, like rhinos, because they want for money. I have never seen it on Borana Conservancy but I have heard it happens from my friends that work on other conservancies nearby.’

What are the problems do women face in your community? Have you had to overcome any of these?

‘Women face a lot of problems. I had to leave my home to come to find work because in my area there is no work. My family were happy to hear that I have a job but also sad because I am far away. My family are very happy that I am working on Borana, but because they are so far away they do not understand why we are protecting the animals. In Isiolo, there are not as many animals are there are on Borana.’

What can women achieve if given the chance?:

‘I am very happy to be working here and I think that myself can work to become better at my job and become a stronger person in the office. I want to learn to use a computer and this will encourage other women to join the HQ office.’

Pauline Kawap, Chief Nurse at the Borana Mobile Clinic

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

‘My name is Pauline Kawap and I am from Rumuruti in Laikipia. This is not where I grew up but only where I went to school to become a nurse. I grew up in Samburu district, which is north of Borana.’

How did you become involved with the clinic on the Borana Conservancy?

‘Becoming a nurse was just something inside me, it was something I had always wanted to do. When I grew up, I had this passion of helping the sick. My father worked on a ranch like Borana so I learnt about the work that is going on in Kenya and connected with Nicky at Borana. Myself and Nicky started the clinic here.’

How important is promoting women in society using the clinic?

‘In the community we do a lot of work with women, such as with pregnant women, HIV protection and teaching about contraception. Family planning is our main goal. This is because we are working with the poorest communities and women never known about family planning before. Women who know about family planning have a better life because family planning reduces poverty because they have the children that they can care for but not too many. In this community, having more children equals wealth, but I can promise you this is not true.’

What can women achieve if given the chance?

‘I think there should be more women working on Borana so we can balance with men. Women who have the opportunity to work because it means you are not dependent on men for everything, for buying your clothes, feeding your children, everything. You can assist your family with independence. As a professional, a nurse should be able to talk to anyone very easily even if it is a man or woman, but I know that many women in the community cannot talk to a man doctor about their problems, so I am able to do work a man is not able to do.’

As a thank you for the time given by the women, SCC will be making a donation to Borana Conservancy, in their name. If you want to do the same, donate through SCC website here.

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"We saw so many extraordinary things - not only stunning wildlife but met interesting locals and conservationists which made our trip exceptional."

Candice Trafford, USA May 29, 2016

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