Brighter Green’s initiative, piloted with partners in the U.S., Kenya, and Tanzania, launches this week, with the participation of 10 girls from Maasai communities. “All the girls have now secured places in schools and look forward to start classes in the next one week.”
Here’s the latest from Brighter Green partner Daniel Salau of the Simba Maasai Outreach Organization (SIMOO) in Ngong, Kenya:
We met last week to vet the names of the applicants and we were able to select the ten girls who met our criteria. This week we have been busy securing places for them in schools since the admissions are going on and we don’t want to risk lagging behind. We have also agreed to have the Tanzania students study in Kenya and we have secured Kajiado Hills Academy, just close to the border, for them. All the girls have now secured places in schools and look forward to start classes in the next one week.
Here are the players: The project is led in the region by three indigenous NGOs, the Parakuiyo Pastoralists Indigenous Community Development Organization (PAICODEO) in Tanzania; and SIMOO and the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), both based in Kenya. Internationally, the project will be facilitated by Brighter Green and Tribal Link Foundation, another U.S.-based NGO.
Here’s the why, what and how: Indigenous women are currently under-represented at United Nations’ and other international forums dedicated to indigenous rights and survival. Their leadership potential is also in large measure overlooked within their communities. Yet, these women have important perspectives to share with their communities as well as the global community to advance the rights of indigenous peoples, protect cultural diversity and biodiversity, and secure sustainable livelihoods. All of these become more urgent tasks as the effects of climate change and globalization are felt more intensely by indigenous peoples around the world.
This initiative aims to provide an initial group of 10 adolescent girls from Maasai communities in East Africa with both formal education and opportunities to develop their skills, capabilities, knowledge, and confidence so that as adult women they can become successful community leaders, as well as effective advocates for indigenous peoples and the environment at the international level.
The entry point is education. It is estimated that only 10 percent of Maasai individuals complete secondary (high) school or higher level education. For girls, the statistics are more dire: less than one percent completes secondary or higher schooling. The intent is to invest deeply in a small number of girls with significant potential but who are trapped by their families’ poverty. By combining access to schooling with rights training sessions, experiential learning visits, and mentoring, the likelihood increases that these young women will, in time, emerge as leaders, grounded in grassroots realities and having the confidence and capability to become important leaders in a global context, there their voices, ideas, and skills are needed.