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Why Women, Why Here

Life has its challenges in the Maasai Mara, and especially so for women and girls.

 

Cultural and economic factors, especially poverty, contribute to high rates of early forced marriage of girls, limiting their educational and economic opportunities. Local attitudes prioritize boys over girls when families cannot afford to pay school fees to keep their children in school. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is still practiced even though illegal, affecting the health and rights of women and girls. Lack of access to quality health services contributes to high maternal mortality rates, and gender-based violence is another issue that puts women and girls at risk. Limited access to clean water also affects the health and safety of women and girls, as they are tasked with walking long distances to collect water for their families each day, facing challenges including human-wildlife conflict.

 

Because of traditional norms, women do not own property, and therefore often have limited access to financial resources. And a lack of skills and education means few opportunities for employment.


Compelled by this, we have initiated programs to help women and girls. For the girls, we focus on education through a holistic model of school support, scholarships, and clean water, and by making reusable sanitary kits to help keep them in school. For the mothers, we developed the Oliveseed Women's Work Center to build the skills and capacity of women, and and to enable them to earn an income for the first time in their lives. So far 17 families from Emarti ole Kasoe have provided a representative at the Center, ensuring that equal opportunities are given to the wider community. We have also developed community water projects, which not only help family health but relieve women of the burden of carrying water on their backs for many hours and kilometers every day.

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