Umoja is an only women village in Samburu county, Kenya. The village was founded in 1990 by Rebecca Lolosoli a samburu woman, to be a home for young girls running from forced marriages (when a girl reached 12 years she would undergo FGM then she would be given out to an old man as a wife) and gender-based violence against women. Samburu is one of the tribes in Kenya which practiced (and still practices) FGM (female genital mutilation) and patriarchy.
Despite such a background Rebecca decided to break the norms and free herself from these traditions of inequality and now leads a happy life as an independent person (independent meaning she’s able make her life decisions without the interference of these subjective traditions). In addition she is now helping girls to escape early marriages, FGM and get a education and women who are only taken by their husbands as objects of use and not partners.
We are in the era of women empowerment, and it is fair to the girl child as we suffer the most when it comes to inequality of leadership positions, sexual harassment, FGM etc. Though women empowerment has come with toxic femininity, the good still surpasses the negatives at a very high percentage .Women from such like communities are now able to go to school, for go FGM, choose their own partners (husbands), hold leadership positions or choose to remain unmarried (if they wish to) etc.
Today, I appreciate having such role models, coming from this type of community myself,I do appreciate all the effort put in place to help me get an education, escape FGM, choose the time I want to start a family and with however I want to be with and generally the opportunity to have the freedom to choose what I want in my life. Kudos to all the woman who came before me and shunned these toxic traditions and to every man and woman helping the girl child to rise and be an independent person.
By, Simaloi Toimasi