OPPOSE BACKWARD CULTURAL PRACTICES

Maa women want BBI to address FGM, gender violence

Women expressed concern over inclusivity and representation in government, land injustices, women empowerment, and retrogressive cultural practices.

In Summary

• They said Maa women should be educated to break their cycle of poverty. 

• They said they are not economically benefitting from trade in cultural ornaments such as beads.

Maasai women attend Mzee Moi's memorial service at Nyayo Stadium on February 11, 2020.
Maasai women attend Mzee Moi's memorial service at Nyayo Stadium on February 11, 2020.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

Maa women want the BBI team to include solutions to gender-based violence and harmful cultural practices such as FGM that have historically affected them. 

Speaking on Wednesday during a breakfast meeting in Nairobi, the women from Baringo, Kajiado, Laikipia, Marsabit, Nakuru, Narok and Samburu expressed their support for the BBI report. 

However, they expressed concern over inclusivity and representation in government, land injustices, women empowerment, and retrogressive cultural practices. The Maa communities include the Maasai, Samburu and Ilchamus.

"The majority of Maa women generally occupy the borders like all other pastoralist communities, living in arid and semi-arid areas and continue to face cattle rustling, gender-based violence, poverty and drought," Angeline Yiamiton said.

"We are here courtesy of our own desire as women, to be present and to be included."

Yiamiton, chair of the Maa Women's Network, added that despite Kenya benefitting from the Maa cultures, the Maa women are not economically benefitting from trade in cultural ornaments such as beads.

"How many women are present in that trade? How many women benefit from hours of doing beadwork? We do not benefit from those things and it is important that we recognise women who are excluded," she said. 

The chair added hat Maa women need to be educated to prevent them from being trapped in the cycle of poverty. 

"Even as we ask for space, we do so as vulnerable and marginalised. Our illiteracy rates are very high," she said.

"Even as we support the commonwealth agenda, there must be ways that women from Maa communities can sit at the table."

Last year, the President led a forum with elders from 22 FGM hotspot counties. They pledged to partner with the President and the government to eradicate FGM. 

The elders and religious leaders made strong commitments to ensure the vice is a thing of the past and that girls are provided with safe spaces. The President launched the national policy for the eradication of FGM.