The role of private sector in empowering women's participation in achieving environmental sustainability (MDG 7) in Kenya: a critical analysis.
This study critically analyzes the extent to which efforts by private sector interventions empower women's participation to achieve environmental sustainability (MDG 7). The researcher interviewed directors and staff working in companies under investigation, staff and directors of National Environmental Management Authority and women leaders and women groups in the communities where the sampled companies operate. The researcher interviewed women as a special constituency to determine their collective thinking of the extent to which they feel they have been empowered by private sector to participate in environmental sustain ability efforts. The researcher used the analytical technique in this study to refer to the approaches /process used to involve women, the stages of participation and level of equality/empowerment realized during the business intervention. The approaches explored include Corporate Social Responsibility; sponsorships and awards. The companies under investigation were selected based on their business focus and scope, composition, impact of their activities on the environment, and the gender dynamics that they introduce. The staff/directors interviewed depended on relevance to subject of study, while community members were women leaders /groups drawn purposively from selected sites of respective comoonv operations. Nairobi was' selected for centrality in business while Murang' a and Kajiado were selected for comparison and proximity. Qualitative techniques were used focusing in depth interviews and focused group discussions. Turning to the findings, there is a general indication that businesses that ignore the needs of society, especially that of women, cannot be sustainable. Ultimately, development that ignores the role of business, will fail. Specifically, the study found out that efforts being made by some companies towards environmental sustain ability have been influenced by the stringent measures adopted by NEMA. The status quo is backed by the fact that the Millennium Development Goal on Environmental sustainability does not provide indicators for private sector participation in the achievement of the same. In addition, the participation of women in majority of business interventions under study remains invisible while the level of recognition of women's issues and empowerment is low (either at welfare level, which is zero level of empowerment or at most, access level) - a consequence of non-involvement of women at all levels of the intervention. In this study, only Nairobi Central Business District Association (NCBDA) was identified as the possible best practice business initiative. It has built confidence and high self-esteem among women and girls through provision of services that are unique to women, for example, in built latrines and disposal tins. Finally, the study suggested that private sector must strengthen its institutional policies; strategies, objectives and service delivery by ensuring that their business plans are pro - poor and pro - women. Information on environmental sustainability must be packaged in a simple way as to be understood by women. The study olso suggested that since MDG 7 is a crosscutting issue and its achievement depends largely on achievement of other MDGs, further studies must focus on these MDGs and how they influence the achievement of MDG 7 .