Monday, March 22, 2010

53: The Self-Empowered Woman: Rebecca Samaria Lolosoli

Dear Followers:

I love the fact that amazing women can be found everywhere on the globe, and I want to introduce you to a woman in Eastern Africa who embodies strength and bravery.

Twelve years ago Rebecca Lolosoli and several other women created a village in the Samburu district of Kenya that is a women-run "Violence-Against-Women-Free Zone." The village is called "Umoja," which means unity in Swahili, and was built on an unwanted plot of dry grasslands.

Samburu women and children have no rights - they cannot go to school, own livestock or land, or choose a husband. If a wife is murdered by her husband it is not considered a crime because he paid a dowry for her and therefore owns her.

Lolosoli was outraged by how many women were raped and beaten, and wanted to find a way to improve the livelihoods of women who had been disowned by their families. Today the village women sell artifacts and bead work to tourists and have built a school for children, even though local warriors have threatened them.

Lolosoli has campaigned to stop female genital mutilation and educate girls about HIV/AIDS. She had to drop out of her nursing training program six months before graduation because she had no more money for school fees. In her quest to help educate and protect females, she has been beaten, received death threats, and seen her village threatened by local men who felt that Samburu women should not own land. In a patriarchal society, even the local politicians can't believe that the village has its own money and a website!

Lolosoli, the matriarch of the village insists that men are forbidden to live Umoga, but "...may visit as long as they behave and abide by the women's rules." To learn about this pioneer who has taken a stand against domestic violence, child marriage, poverty and discrimination click Umoja Charity

Looking forward to your comments...