Project Title: Advancing Social and Climate Justice through grassroots pastoralist woman and girls’ social movements
Posted on 16 January, 2023
Numerous authoritative publications and actual evidence clarify the increasing threats of adverse climate change, the actualisation of which remains inevitable as long as no urgent redress action is taken. Alarmingly, within the next two years, global temperatures are likely to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius which will make the situation dire for the more than 1 million species currently at risk of extinction. More frequent and intense drought, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans will directly harm animals, destroy the places they live, and wreak havoc on people’s livelihoods and communities. For pastoralist communities, climate change effects have led to loss of livestock, depletion of vegetation, food insecurity, environmental degradation, and water scarcity. In Kenya, pastoralists are responsible for up to 90% of the meat produced in East Africa. Kenya’s livestock sector contributes 12% to the country’s gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. Therefore, a changing climate has serious implications for the country’s economy.
In response to the threats of climate change and the need for effective solutions, individuals, governments, civil society and even the private sector have been coalescing to build consensus in delivering collective action for real change. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have particularly been increasingly partnering and creating movements for lobbying and advocating for requisite measures by all stakeholders to check global warming through appropriate mitigation measures, as well as building the adaptive capacities of communities to climate shocks. These and other social movements (purposeful, organized groups striving to work toward a common goal) calling for social and climate justice have reached exciting new levels of visibility in recent years.
The efficacy of such social movements is best demonstrated by the global teenagers’ climate change social movement started by Greta Thunberg which has received the rare opportunity of addressing and petitioning global heads of States at high level global assemblies including the COP 24 and 25 United Nations Climate Summits and the 2019 World Economic Forum. At the very least, climate change movements have inspired millions of people to take action against climate change and have drawn the attention of climate change risks and need for urgent action to world leaders.
This strategy has also taken root in Kenya as demonstrated by the existence of with numerous civil society networks on climate change, most notable amongst these being the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) – Kenya and the Kenya Climate Change Working Group, both of which the Isiolo Gender Watch (IGW) is a member. These social movements have been instrumental in influencing positive policy frameworks on climate change, enhancing community awareness and adaptive capacity on climate change effects, and pushing for effective private sector mitigation measures to combat adverse climate change impacts.
Climate justice as a concept recognises that, although the climate change crisis is universal in nature, its effects are not felt evenly but rather disproportionately, with women and girls facing greater burdens in comparison to their male counterparts. This is verified by PACJA which, while referring to a UN Women assertion, notes that 8 in every 10 people who are most affected by the climate crisis are women. Discriminatory barriers that limit women’s equal access to education and information, capital, property, land and productive resources, civil and political rights, legal and justice systems, health care, adequate housing, employment and social protection, increase their exposure to the negative effects of climate change and disasters.
Pastoralist women’s cultural roles mainly entail fetching water, energy sources and food. With severe droughts and floods, pastoralist women and girls spend longer time in search of food, water and firewood. This takes away time from pastoralist women and girls to actively and meaningfully engage in critical social activities, including participation in public discourses on social and climate justice. Girls between ages 14 and 16 have no time to do their homework and, for fear of being punished, they miss school, leading to higher girl child dropouts.
In addition, longer distances are travelled in search of food, water and energy sources into territories that are unfamiliar and unsafe. This exposes pastoralist women and girls to high risk of attacks by wild animals, as well as sexual and gender-based violence. The loss of livestock due to adverse climate change effects has also led many pastoralists to hand over their young daughters to early marriage in exchange for dowry in form of livestock in an attempt to replenish those lost to climate change impacts.
Despite such clear and manifest gender disproportionate adverse social and climate justice impacts of climate change, pastoralist women and girls in Kenya, are still systematically and systemically excluded from decision making processes, including those on social and climate justice. The exclusion of grassroots pastoralist women and girls from social and climate justice dialogues is mainly due to cultural norms that mute the voice of pastoralist women and girls by barring them from attending and speaking at public gatherings and equating them to young children in terms of intellectual capacity. Religious institutions buttress this belief and practice by (mis)quoting religious texts and delivering sermons that prohibit women from congregating publicly with and addressing men on matters touching on anything, other than domestic issues.
On the other hand, existing local, national, regional and international social movements characteristically exclude grassroots pastoralist women and girls and their social groupings where these are neither registered nor activists by their nature, such as women table banking groups. The movements instead are content working with registered CSOs from these communities which they assume adequately represent the views of all the members of their communities.
The failure to pass adequate legal provisions such as the Public Participation Bill has also prohibited the compulsion of public decision-making processes to engage pastoralist women and girls in deliberations as a prerequisite.
On the other hand, the lack of alternative opportunities, means and platforms to allow for and mainstream the contribution of grassroots pastoralist women and girls in social and climate justice deliberations and solution-setting has also condoned the current status quo of exclusion.
The lack of awareness and deficient capacity of pastoralist women and girls to articulate their concerns and issues, as well as effectively advocate and lobby for solutions that enhance their access to social and climate justice are also notable challenges.
Currently, most social movements on climate change and particularly those promoting social and climate justice do not characteristically enroll the membership of non-traditional grassroots pastoralist women and girls’ groups. The non-traditional women groups are mainly non-registered and non-activist groups. These include, for example, small scale and start up pastoralist women and girls grassroots CBOs, women table banking groups, women religious groupings (such as Mothers’ Unions and Women’s Guild), Women’s Chamas and Merry-Go-Rounds, Widows and Single Mothers Groups, Female students and teaching fraternities, Nyumba Kumi female leaders, Women Small Scale Traders and Merchants Groups, Women Farmer Organisations, female boda boda riders Groups, Sex Workers Groups, Female Bartender Groups, as well as Women grassroots business leaders and their female groupings. Almost every woman and/or girl in pastoralist areas is a member of one or more of these groupings.
The exclusion of non-traditional social movements is as a result of the misconception by movements enlisters that only formally registered organisations have the legitimacy and competence to represent pastoralist women and girls in decision making forums. and the benefit in terms of reach in targeting these groups and coalescing them into a social and climate justice movement cannot be gainsaid.
Most social and climate justice movements, being spearheaded and coordinated by activist organisations by their very nature tend to reach out to other activists (commonly referred to as like-minded organisations) to join and collaborate with them in their endeavors. Non-activist organisations and their membership are therefore naturally excluded. But there is also a high likelihood that such movements lack innovative strategies and approaches in engaging non-activist organisations. Again, most movements and CSOs in general adhere to a predetermined “scripts” in seeking partnerships, with the most common scripts hardly highlighting the strategies and importance of including non-registered and non-activist women organisations.
There are also cultural and religious inhibitors to bringing on board some specific non-traditional women groups, for instance those comprising of sexual workers and women bartenders, into social and climate justice movements.
The highlighted barriers and hinderances to the equal participation and representation in public engagements explains the lack of grassroots pastoralist women and girls social and climate justice movements, despite the comparatively higher adverse effects of social and climate injustices they face
As strongly urged by the UN Women, “Those who are most affected by climate change today–women, girls and marginalised communities–must be involved in the design and implementation of climate response actions to ensure the equal sharing of benefits.” No efforts should be spared in facilitating and supporting grassroots women-led and women-focused movements to articulate and offer their solutions to addressing social and climate justice challenges.
Promotion of grassroots pastoralist women and girls’ social and climate justice movements acknowledges the climate justice concept which recognises that, although the climate change crisis is universal in nature, its effects are not felt evenly and are disproportionately by different members of a community, with women and girls facing the most devastating brunt in comparison to their male counterparts. It provides the important opportunity for the arrival at social and climate justice solutions that are suitable to all segments of the society, and particularly characterized by a gender-focused alternatives. This thus promotes gender equality and social justice (the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities).
Social and climate justice solutions arrived at with the meaningful input of pastoralist women and girls are further enriched and made more effective by the added benefit of the incorporation of the accumulated unique, deep-rooted and flexible knowledge and experience possessed by pastoralist women and girls, given their close association with the environment in carrying out their cultural roles.
Most importantly, the promotion of social movements of grassroots women and girls in pastoralist advances human rights, including the rights to equality, to live free from violence and discrimination, association, expression of opinion, clean environment, life, security of property and many other freedoms outlined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and other local, national, regional and international human rights instruments.
Social and climate justice for pastoralist women and girls in Kenya
1. Establishment of a sustainable and effective movement of grassroots pastoralist women and girls on social and climate justice
2. Enhanced opportunities and platforms to promote the participation and representation (amplified voice) of pastoralist women and girls in social and climate justice dialogues at local, national, regional and international levels
3. Increased awareness and capacity of women and girls in pastoralist grassroots areas to pursue and achieve social and climate justice
1. Establishment of Women and Girls Movement on Social and Climate Justice
Isiolo Gender Watch (IGW) will facilitate the formation of a movement of pastoralist grassroots women and girls and their non-traditional groups in Isiolo County to collectively engage, provide a unified voice and positions in social and climate justice determinations. The targeted non-traditional women groupings, under the project include small scale and start up pastoralist women and girls grassroots CBOs, women table banking groups, women religious groupings (such as Mothers’ Unions and Women’s Guild), Women’s Chamas and Merry-Go-Rounds, Widows and Single Mothers Groups, Female students and teaching fraternities, Nyumba Kumi female leaders, Women Small Scale Traders and Merchants Groups, Women Farmer Organisations, female boda boda riders Groups, Sex Workers Groups, Female Bartender Groups, as well as Women grassroots business leaders and their female groupings. The assumption is that almost every woman and/or girl in the County belongs to one or more of these groupings, the movement will make headways in achieving active engagement and involvement of a very wide reach of women and girls in Isiolo County.
Amongst the key goals of the movement will be advocacy and lobbying for gender equality in social and climate justice solution-seeking processes; advancement of gendered solutions to social and climate justice; combating cultural, religious, legal and other practices that deter women and girls’ equitable participation in social and climate justice endeavors; compel CSOs, private sector and businesses to take up mitigation measures that promote social and climate justice (cross-linking with the objectives of the Local Actions Call); and contribute to national, regional and international dialogues and solutions on social and climate justice.
This activity will contribute to the achievement of Objective 1.
2. Regular attendance of non-traditional women and girls’ groups meetings
To achieve the enrolment of these target groups into the movement, IGW staff will attend the groups’ meetings to raise awareness on individual and collective responsibility and urgent need for joint action, through the movement, to achieve social and climate justice. Information, Communication and Education (IEC) material developed under the project will also be disseminated at these meetings, and to other individual women and girls to achieve the same goal.
IGW staff will continue attending the women groups’ meetings occasionally encourage and motivate the members to continue engaging through the movement in pursuit of social and climate justice for all. The IGW Staff shall be sensitive enough to ensure that they take as minimum time as possible (not more than 10 minutes) to allow the women and girls’ groups to carry on with their meetings as planned. IGW will occasionally invite highly regarded women influencers regarded to address the group members and empower them to keep participating in the movement activities.
3. Creation of Online Platforms for Movement Engagement
IGW will utilise technological platforms to facilitate easy and continuous engagement by movement members on issues social and climate justice. This will involve the creation of an interactive online page within the IGW website, Twitter, Facebook Page and a YouTube Channel to facilitate the active participation of the target group is social and climate justice deliberations. The resolutions from these platforms will be collated and forwarded to relevant actors for appropriate action. In addition, these platforms will be linked to national, regional and global movements’ platforms to ensure the mainstreaming of Isiolo women and girls’ agenda at these higher levels.
The platforms will also be utilised to impart knowledge and raise awareness on the individual and collective responsibility to promoting social and climate justice. Accordingly, IGW will periodically post information tidbits and allow for debate and discussions to emphasise the importance of fulfilling the said responsibilities. This activity will contribute to the achievement of Objective 2 and 3.
4. Generation and Dissemination of Information and Awareness Raising Materials
IGW will develop targeted messaging for awareness raising and capacity building targeting women and girls and their non-traditional groups. These will include print material such as flyers, pamphlets, brochures, T-Shirts and branded stationery; digital material including informative memes, animated infographics and video clips. These materials will have different messaging for the different actors such as government agencies, CSOs and private sector actors, calling on all to take appropriate action to promote social and climate justice.
5. Monitoring and Evaluation
IGW’s proposed Monitoring, Evaluation, Accounting and Learning (MEAL) Framework has been attached separately.
The project design is not only sustainable but is intended to be replicated across all the pastoralist counties across the countries. To ensure sustainability, the project targets the empowerment and enhanced capacity of women and girls, as well as their representative non-traditional groups through the imparting of lifelong useful skills that will be able employ past the project term to continue pursuing social and climate justice. In addition, the digital engagement platforms created are not costly and can easily be sustained by the movement members after the proposed project lapses. It is further expected that the effectiveness of the project will draw wider support from other supporters during and after the project term.