As American high school seniors around the United States are currently deciding where they are going to college, the Kenyan East African Young Women’s Leadership Initiative students have been finding out about their end of year examinations. All five Kenyan young women, Ann, Hellen, Joyce, Sabina, and Elizabeth, sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) national exam, required for admission into university. Two of the young women, Elizabeth and Hellen received scores that qualify them to start university in the summer. Joyce, Sabina, and Ann will attend a one-year bridging certificate course before entering university the following year. Three of the Tanzanian young women finished their end of year exams and have been promoted to form four, their final year of secondary education. One young woman, Rehema, finished her final year of studies and is waiting to enroll in an intermediary college.
The Kenyan young women interned at local organizations between the end of their examinations and the start of a computer course. In addition to their internships, since they were living at home, they helped their families with household duties, including caring for livestock, farming, and other domestic chores. The Kenyan young women are now taking a computer course that will help them as they move to university and intermediary colleges.
The Kenyan young women also followed the recent Kenyan elections. Joyce was actively involved in the election. Although she was not a registered voter, she followed and actively advocated for specific candidates and parties. She is interested in politics and is considering running in future elections. Joyce’s interest in politics is a great accomplishment for the Initiative – hopefully she will run in the future and will be able to advocate for the Maasai community and for Maasai women as well.
It should also be noted that the recent Kenyan election marked a huge accomplishment for Maasai women. Peris Tobiko became the first Maasai woman to be elected to Kenya’s Parliament. She faced resistance from elders in the Maasai community who said they would “curse” those that voted for her. Her opponents also discouraged people from voting for her saying electing a Maasai woman as a leader defied their culture. Tobiko’s election is a huge accomplishment and she serves as a role model for the young women in our Initiative.
We are extremely excited for what lies ahead for the Initiative participants – especially as they move towards higher education. Getting a college education is a huge accomplishment for Maasai women and we hope that Initiative participants will emerge as successful community leaders and effective advocates for indigenous peoples and the environment at the international level.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Salau