East African Young Women’s Leadership Initiative December Workshop Report

East African Young Women’s Leadership Initiative December Workshop Report

The girls with one of the workshop leaders

The East African Young Women’s Leadership Initiative held a workshop for the participating Tanzanian women on December 7, 2011 in Morogoro, Tanzania.  Four out of the five Tanzanian women attended (Mary Saidi was ill).

The workshop began with a review of last year’s workshop in Arusha.  Facilitators Daniel Salau, Rehema Mkalata, and Rebecca Mwarabu asked the young women what they remembered from last year, and how they have applied what they learned in their schools and communities.  Here are some samples of what the women shared:


Rehema Emmanuel, who aspires to be a lawyer, said she was able to explain to her parents how the Maasai have lost their land, and how they have scattered, and lost their economic power and political voice because they are always the minority wherever they are.

Sofia Somei, a doctor-to be, said she has talked to her peers about the negative effects of female genital mutilation (FGM) and advised them to resist any attempt to have them undergo this harmful practice.

After this initial discussion, the young women spoke about their successes and challenges during the last year.


Martha Lazaro felt that her English had greatly improved, but was not as successful as she would have liked in her courses because of having changed schools during the course of her program.

Peninah Yolamu is encouraged by the support she has received from her family members and program officials, but has struggled with discrimination towards Maasai students at her school.

Inspired by the concurrent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17), the facilitators took the girls through a session about climate change.  The young women discussed what they knew about climate change, how it related to human rights, and how it is especially devastating to indigenous populations, including the Maasai.  The facilitators encouraged the girls by tying these issues to the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The young women were also encouraged to discuss the ways that women and children were specifically affected:

  • Women have not been involved in decision making, both at the local level and the national level, because they are encouraged to take care of domestic issues.
  • Boys have more opportunities to attend school than girls, so they dominate the workforce.  Women therefore have less opportunities to earn income.
  • Maasai women and children are more affected by climate change than men because men move with their livestock during times of drought, often leaving women and children behind.

The workshop closed with the facilitators emphasizing that the women hold a key role in shaping the future of both their community and the Indigenous People’s Movement.  The young women were urged to seize their opportunity and make the best of it.

They also gave the young women some relevant themes to think about and research for the next workshop (including a copy of Wangari Maathai’s autobiography, Unbowed: A Memoir, a gift from Brighter Green Executive Director Mia MacDonald).

Photos courtesy of Daniel Salau