How Climate change activism is propelling women in Kenya into politics
General elections are scheduled to be held in Kenya on August 9th, 2022 and climate change is finally having a political moment as some of the political aspirants are hoping their activism will help them win various seats.
By Lillian Mutavi (Communication and external engagement Officer)
At the age of 22, Anita Soina is the youngest parliamentary aspirant and a Kenyan environmental activist from the Maasai community. She is battling for the Kajiado North parliamentary seat in the upcoming elections.
How Soina became a climate change activist.
Soina is a Kenyan Environmental Advocate from the Maasai community. A patriarchal minority community of Kenya. Growing up, she was confronted with the challenges and opportunities in her surroundings. She became a force behind social change leveraging on environmental conservation, which has been a contentious issue in this region and entire country.
Soina started engaging in the environmental ‘war’ at the age of 17 years and started an organization on climate change at a young age. She is one of Kenya's youngest environmental activist, and has founded the organisation 'Spice Warriors' three years ago to promote environmental conservation.
When we spoke to Soina, she said that she is in love with environment and only serves that one master and that’s nature. In May 2015, she gave a TED talk about environmental protection through social change.
Soina said that vying for the seat will not only be fighting for her community, but she will also use the position to push for policies in climate change matters. “Coming from a pastoralist community that has been affected by climate change and which is worsening the poverty levels, I will use the position to empower my people,” she said.
How university and social media at the region gave her chance to grow trees.
Soina, who recently graduated from Multimedia University with a degree in Public Relations and Corporate Communication, has been able to mobilise her peers in the university to participate on climate change. She used her online platform to passionately advocate for social change in Kenya and around the world through environmental policy.
Her organisation Spice Warrior has over 300 volunteers stretching to other countries where she uses art and the entertainment industry to promote conservation. She said that she has been dedicating all her birthdays to planting trees and so far, she has planted over 300,000 trees. “I am passionate about environment conservation, especially the advocacy part and tree growing part. I do not have an environment education but that does not make me environmentally unconscious,” she said.
She said that after high school she joined mentorship programmes and she wanted to be a social change activists on SDG 13, focussing on Climate Action. and learned a lot about climate change and global warming. She knew she couldn’t make it alone and decided to come up with a movement of young people who followed her on social media and wanted to plant trees with her. She said that she had to educate them on how young people can bring change and how they can contribute to the environment. She also participated in clean-up programmes and tree planting in her community.
Political footsteps that she wishes will propel her passion.
In her using her passion for environment to fuel her political ambition, she`s following in the footsteps of Wangari Mathai who was a Kenyan social, environmental and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Soina said that so far, she has planted over 1500 trees in Kajiado and they have had a survival rate of 85 per cent. She has also partnered with forest conservation where she has been on the forefront in increasing the forest cover in Isinya and Oloolua. Soina joined the Green Thinking Action Party (GTAP), a political party that she will be using to propel her to parliament.
Soina added that during her door to door campaign she must educate the residents on the importance of tree planting at the same time she is asking for votes. “I am compelled by the significant role that politics constantly play in international environmental governance, economic and social prosperity of communities, I contemplated on fighting The Green War from the corridors of power while representing young people, children and women who are highly underrepresented in the active political arena," she said.
Are you inspired by Sonia’s fight for the environment? Have a look at our Water Wake-Up Call to see how Simavi is raising awareness for the water crisis caused by climate change.