#10Women: Pauline Longojine, Sera Conservancy
“Our society is now changing and starting to see the value of women’s leadership. At first they would ask - how can a woman lead us? By my second term, I was elected unopposed because my work spoke for itself.” Pauline Longojine, Former Sera Conservancy Board Chairlady and current NRT Peace Ambassador.
Whether she’s bringing her community together to spearhead East Africa’s first community-run black rhino sanctuary, or empowering women to take the lead in building peace, Pauline is unquestionably a force to be reckoned with.
Elected to the Sera Community Conservancy board in 2011, Pauline served for the maximum two terms. She ran an unopposed Chair of the Board in her second term, becoming one of the first women in an NRT member conservancy to take that role. It was under her leadership that Sera became the first community-run black rhino sanctuary in east Africa, setting new standards and best practices for endangered species conservation in Kenya. “The introduction of rhino in Sera is something that I will always be proud of,” she says. “Our children are employed by the rhino sanctuary and the community as a whole will continue to grow from tourism revenue.” Pauline is now a peace ambassador, and has played an instrumental role in launching NRT’s multi-ethnic women’s peace forum - which aims to equip women with skills for building peace and detecting and preventing conflict. “In the beginning, women were afraid to speak to their sons and husbands,” says Pauline, “but we challenged them to think of the future they wanted for their community. Now they come back and tell us that their sons are listening to them and thinking twice before going out to raid.” Driving her work now is a firm belief that women can and should play a leading role in mitigating ethnic conflict, and this starts by creating safe spaces for dialogue and starting conversations. “There are certain things that the morans (young men) will open up and tell me, that they would not tell the men - when they are with me, they know that they are with a mother, and will not be judged.”