Six Maasai young women in Kenya and Tanzania who couldn’t afford a formal education have completed secondary school and have entered college, thanks to The East African Young Women’s Leadership Initiative, a joint project of New York-based non-profit organizations Brighter Green and Tribal Link, in partnership with three indigenous non-governmental organizations–Parakuiyo Pastoralists Indigenous Community Development Organization (PAICODEO) in Tanzania, and Simba Maasai Outreach Organization (SIMOO) and the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) in Kenya.
Members of the Maasai tribe are marginalized in East Africa; only one out of a thousand Maasai children goes on to a secondary education after primary school, and most of them are boys. Girls marry early and begin bearing children. The Initiative sends the young women to boarding schools, pays all their school fees and living expenses and offers intensive mentoring. In order for the women to enter the program, their families had to pledge to refrain from subjecting them to female genital mutilation or arranging an early marriage.
Our aim is to develop the young women’s skills, knowledge, environmental awareness, and confidence so that as adult women they will be successful leaders in their communities and effective international advocates for indigenous peoples and the environment at the international level. Achieving this is particularly urgent because climate change and the effects of globalization are felt more intensely by indigenous communities around the world.
All of the young women are finding their paths to leadership. Ledaiki Anne Nailantei has been selected by the Kenyan Wildlife Service (one of only two women in all of Kenya) to study Community Wildlife Management at the Kenya Wildlife Training Institute. Both Sabina Tumeki Siankoi and Hellen Naipanoi Kipaili are working towards degrees in Gender & Development at Kenya’s Egerton University in order to improve the lives of women in their communities. Kakenya Barta is studying Communications and Journalism at Mt. Kenya University and wants to give a voice to her community. Elizabeth Kironua Sakuda is pursing a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science at Kenyatta University and has a particular interest in climate change and its effects on indigenous populations. Rehema Hotee has been accepted at the Iringa University College in Tanzania and Martha Rokonga has enrolled there; both intend to study Community Development as a way to promote the rights of women.
We have created an external website for this program; visit it here.