Milka Chepkorir Kuto

Kenya

Since her undergraduate years, Milka has been a fierce advocate for indigenous and women’s rights. Beginning by providing mentorship to girls in her community and encouraging them to learn and study hard as a means of empowering themselves, she soon found herself campaigning against mass evictions from the Embobut forest in the name of “conservation” in 2015. Her important role in this fight, from petitioning the World Bank, speaking passionately at the National Colloquium, and carrying out research into women’s experiences of the evictions, led to her  selection for the Indigenous Peoples Fellowship in Geneva in the summer of 2016. Here she developed her knowledge of indigenous struggles and the relevant mechanisms for addressing their plight.

Fortified by this knowledge, and her own sincere passion for indigenous and women’s rights, she has since represented her community (and indigenous communities at large) at both the UN and EU, successfully leading to the suspension of EU-funded Water Tower Project in 2018, while also ensuring the representation of women in decision-making processes in her community. More recently, she has been working as a Project Lead for the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), alongside Both ENDS, while also building a community cultural centre in order to help preserve Senwer culture in the face of evictions.

Milka has used the JWHI Grant to fund her Masters in Gender and Development Studies at the University of Nairobi, helping to further develop her knowledge of gender relations and gender and decision-making, with particular focus on Gender and Natural Resource Conservation. She hopes this will further qualify her to advise the government and conservation agencies on these issues. In addition, part of the grant went to facilitating an exchange between women from different parts of the Embobut forest, enabling them to share their experiences in organising themselves as a collective voice and standing up for community land rights.

Read an interview with Milka here.

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