Tow ards an appreciation of African women's contribution in forests and land conservation in Africa: case study Kenya
Human poverty and the environment are multi-sectoral and multidimensional problems which cut across the traditional scientific disciplines. Kenya, like many other developing countries in the world is subject to several environment-related worrying trends, which put sustainable development at risk. Poverty in Kenya is predominantly a rural phenomenon linked to the rural household's large dependence on natural resources (mainly soils, biological and forest resources), inefficient agricultural practices, land degradation, declining food production, rapid population growth, land fragmentation, and limited access to markets, credits and public services. The hardest hit among the poor are women who have often been subordinate to the men folk in matters of decision making and equal access to opportunities and resources. This discrepancy has been brought about by culture, religion, legal and economic dynamics that have kept women in the background playing secondary roles. In Kenya, the Green Belt Movement launched on Earth Day in 1977, was one of the first efforts to incorporate the links between gender and natural resources within a grassroots environmental campaign. In recent years, the Movement's work has expanded to include issues of food security and the production of native foods such as millet and groundnuts, many of which have been abandoned in favour of fast-growing, more ecologically demanding crops for export, such as coffee, tea and flowers. This study is organized around the submission that women have been unrecognized in their endeavors to contribute to sustainable development yet they playa critical role in this through their interaction with the environment. It is therefore proposed that the success of policies and measures aimed at supporting or strengthening the promotion of gender equality and the improvement of the status of women should be based on the integration of the gender perspective in general policies relating to all spheres of society as well as..th~implementation of positive measures with adequate institutional and financial support at an.