Exactly one year ago, twenty-six women drawn from Kenya’s Conservancy network came together under the umbrella forum- National Conservancies women forum convened by KWCA to elevate women’s voices at the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC). KWCA, with support from the USAID Department of Interior, supported and prepared the conservancy women to instigate and raise their voices on Africa’s conservation agenda. It was the first time for the women comprising of female conservancy rangers, conservancy managers committee members and gender specialists to participate in an international conservation platform to share their experiences and lessons on community conservation in Kenya.
12 women participated in five-panel discussions as panellists and moderators and shared their knowledge, expertise, lived experience, energy and drive for conservation. Their participation in panel discussions, proved that elevating grassroots women’s voices is crucial in promoting Africa’s conservation agenda and builds on their knowledge, confidence and self-esteem.
The women left Kigali inspired to continue their conservation journey and act with strategies to harness the knowledge and experience gained to break down structural and individual barriers, mobilise and use the power of sisterhood to drive progress in conservancies.
The experiences and stories of each woman stands out, there are no favourites, but these few stood out.
“APAC changed how I view myself. As a ranger, I was inspired and motivated by the accolades rangers received at the conference. My highlight was attending the International rangers award ceremony organised by the International Ranger Federation (IRF). It was great interacting with other rangers from across Africa. It opened my eyes to who I am as a ranger and the power I have in conservation, transforming myself and my community.” Travelling to APAC also allowed me to interact with our senior management and directors, an opportunity that perhaps I would never have gotten.”
Purity Lakata, Team Lioness Ranger, Amboseli
“APAC fuelled my ambition and courage in ways I can’t explain. I received energy from interacting with amazing people and seeing women speak passionately about conservation; this ignited the little fire in me to do great things for myself and my community. Immediately after APAC, an opportunity to develop a 2026 vision for pastoralist youth presented itself. I applied without hesitation and got selected. I am among a few young women who will participate in a series of youth consultations organised by the International Livestock and Research Institute (ILRI) to inform a youth statement on the future of pastoralism. This statement will be presented at a side event in the upcoming UNFCC Cop meeting”
Jacqueline Nalenoi, NRT County Coordinator Mt. Kenya Region and Youth
“When I got the call to travel to Kigali, I was so happy because I am the only fisherwoman for octopus in Pate. I resolved to take any learnings from Rwanda back home to develop octopus fishing in Pate. When I went to Rwanda, I learned a lot. I saw so many conservancies working together and working with the government. I also learned more about conservation, peace, environment, and hygiene. I will implement all that I learned in my community. I participated in two panel sessions. I thought there would be a language barrier, but there was an interpreter who was helping to translate Kiswahili to English. I talked about women leadership, credit financing, marine, and octopus fishing. I have been invited to present at the12th Scientific WIOMSA (Western Indian Ocean, Marine Science Association) Symposium in South Africa.
I thank KWCA and USAID for taking us to Rwanda to learn so much. I hope that USAID will continue looking at women’s inclusivity. Educating women is like educating the whole community. I also hope that the government partners with various organisations to promote conservation. Women must be at the front line of conservation; our voices will be heard.”
Amina Ahmed (Mama Pweza) Board member Pate Marine Community Conservancy
“APAC was the first international conservation conference to participate. The conference was so much fun, and we learned a lot. There were intense conversations, and one of the things that stood out for us was women’s empowerment and their rights. Particularly, we attended one session with a group of civil society women from West Africa, who were talking about their journey, and we could relate to where we are as women trying to navigate in the conservancies. The sessions showed us that there is hope in what we are doing. After listening to so many conversations, especially those targeting inclusion of women, we noted that change takes time but we must stay on course. APAC renewed our hope to stay on course, and as long as we take steps forward, it will yield fruits. women should ensure their voices are heard because thats how change will start.”
Angela Sanau, Chief Gender Officer Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association
The documentary below gives a glimpse of the women’s experiences at APAC