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Meet Five Young Women Conservationists, Leading the Way in Kenya

On World Conservation Day 2023, Girl Rising celebrates the vital role that women play in conservation - women like Girl Rising Advisory Council Member Dr. Winnie Kiiru, Kenyan biologist, elephant conservationist, and chairperson of the Wildlife Research Institute in Naivasha. Winnie not only leads groundbreaking conservation efforts, she serves as an important role model to young women forging careers in conservation. Today, shine the light on five young women in Kenya, all part of Winnie’s extensive network, who are championing environmental stewardship and influencing young people in their communities and around the world.

Ruth Jepkemoi - Part of the prestigious University of Cambridge Masters in Conservation Leadership program, Ruth first developed her love of nature through her herbalist grandmother. Ruth co-founded Kang4Nature, a volunteer youth group that runs environmental restoration projects including tree planting and clean-ups around Nairobi. She also spent three years as Program Manager of CHD Conservation Kenya, a grass-roots organization that promotes public participation in conservation through education and awareness programs in Amboseli National Park.

Elsie Ashioni - Impact Environmental Educator at the TonyWild Center, Elsie is part of a highly skilled group of storytellers who influence the next generation to become passionate stewards of wildlife through photography, film, and science. She honed her abilities and knowledge at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and through an internship at the CHD Conservation Kenya.

Victoria Wanjohi - Victoria is the founder and editor of the award-winning environmental communication platform, Nyika Silika, and the co-founder of Biophilic Conversations, an organization that inspires youth to be a part of the conservation community in Africa. Victoria is currently Director and Impact Communications at TonyWild Center.

Patricia Kombo - Known for her tree-planting initiatives through the nonprofit she founded, PaTree Initiative, Patricia is a climate activist who was recognized for her work by being named a UN Land and Desertification Hero. In 2022, she was chosen to address world leaders during the Opening session of Conference Of Parties to United Nations Convention To Combat Desertification in Côte d'Ivoire.

Phoebe Matunda -Kenya Programs Director at Stand Up Shout Out, Phoebe is a youth leader and environmental conservationist who equips young people with the skills and knowledge to lead conservation efforts in their communities. She recently spoke at the Africa Protected Areas Congress to an audience that included the Minister of Environment Rwanda, Director General Youth Empowerment Ministry of Youth, Rwanda, and the C.E.O. Africa Wildlife Foundation.

These young leaders exemplify the promise of women in conservation. When women take the helm in managing conservation efforts, collaboration flourishes, solidarity strengthens, and conflicts find resolution. Extensive evidence shows that the participation of women and girls in conservation programs brings about improved outcomes and more equitable benefits for all. Studies from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the United Nations Environment Programme show that gender-inclusive conservation efforts lead to better resource management and enhanced sustainability.

In just a few weeks, we will announce the members of our 2023-2024 Future Rising Fellowship, this year with a focus on women in conservation and on local solutions. Through their stories, we will add to the growing body of evidence showcasing the extraordinary impact of women in conservation.

Join us in celebrating the contributions of women in conservation on World Conservation Day 2023.

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