Women in Kajiado County have been urged to embrace tree planting as an income-generating activity to empower themselves economically.
An officer from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Ambassador Ruth Solitei noted that apart from safe-guarding the environment from degradation, trees were also a source of wealth.
Solitei, who was addressing women at an economic empowerment forum at Inkinye, Kajiado Central, noted that the county has a low percentage of tree cover and urged them to embrace tree planting to promote forest cover and preserve water catchment areas.
“I want to urge all women to embrace tree planting as an economic activity to empower themselves financially. Planting of trees will not only help conserve the environment but will at the same time enable women earn an income,” she stressed.
She noted that most parts of the county were arid and semi-arid and witness long dry spells thus trees suitable for such climate should be planted so they grow to maturity.
Solitei said empowering women to plant trees will also help fight retrogressive cultures such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages explaining some women circumcisers did so to earn a living.
“Poverty fuels oppression of the girl-child. Girls are circumcised and married off at an early age for dowry. Once a woman is empowered, retrogressive practices such as FGM and early marriages will come to an end,” she added.
Anti-FGM board Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bernadette Loloju, reiterated Solitei’s remarks adding that the fight against retrogressive cultural practices will only be won if women in the community are economically empowered.
Loloju said planting trees is an investment which will help women earn a living instead of circumcising the girls for money or marrying them off for dowry.
The CEO emphasized on the need to explore new ways of confronting the retrogressive practices which are still deeply rooted in culture despite not having any meaningful value to the women and girls.
Loloju noted that despite FGM being illegal in Kenya, it still goes on in secrecy and its total eradication will require aggressive campaigns and sensitization.
She noted the need to educate people on the harmful effects of the practice to change their attitude and ensure that the rights of the girl child are upheld.
“For us to achieve the Presidential directive of ending FGM in Kenya by 2022, we have to explore new ways of confronting the vice such as empowering women through tree planting and conducting campaigns on the harmful effects of the practice on the girls,” she emphasized.
During the event, more than 1300 seedlings were planted even as the organizers urged the government and Non-government organizations in the country to donate tree seedlings to the women.
By Rop Janet