Through the support of our partners, Convoy of Hope we are working with a number of Maasai communities outside of Arusha to provide training on women's rights.
The areas where we are working are known as "interior villages," meaning they are very remote and traditional communities. It is most often in these communities where our training program is most needed. Bound by customary law traditional Maasai society distinguishes strictly between male and female social roles. Women are seen as strictly home makers and subordinate to their male counterparts who are farmers and warriors.
As a result of this position and role in society, child marriage, lack of education and domestic violence are sadly commonplace for Maasai women and girls. In addition, being so remote and without knowledge of their rights means these practices are generally accepted as a way of life.
Last week we traveled a small community in Engaruka, about two and a half hours from Arusha. Here, we spent the day with 20 women and spoke about a range of topics including general women's rights, inheritance, wills and domestic violence. It was inspiring to see so many women eager to learn about their rights and the channels they can use to access the laws there to protect them.
It was also inspiring to see a few men in attendance who also voiced their support behind the women and the need to respect and raise awareness of their rights.
One man in attendance, a respected community member who loaned us his compound for the day to train the women was particularly eager to do more about women's rights in his community.
Sadly in many communities which practice customary law, change, particularly when it comes the rights and roles of women can be met with resistance. To see a respected male community member voice his support in this area is a truly positive and promising sign. Women's rights are human rights, and when men and women unite together to advocate for this cause, significant change is possible.
We are looking forward to returning to this community in the near future to deliver more training on women's rights and provide ways for men and women to mobilise their communities and advocate for their rights.
See below for some photos from this training.