In kenya, there is a whole village just for women, where no man is allowed to enter the village.
In the middle of the desert, there is a village called Umoja, where only women are allowed. founded in 1990 as an all-female village for refuge, located near Samburu county 380km from the capital Nairobi .
Rebecca Lolosoli, a Samburu woman with 14 other women who were victims of abusive marriage and inhumane treatment meted on the female and girl child by the Samburu men, founded Umoja as a place of refuge for homeless survivors of violence against women and young girls running away from forced marriages.
It is a culture in Samburu that women have subordinate positions in the society, they are not allowed to own land or any type of property, they are considered properties to their husbands hence they are subject to the dictates of their husbands. Female genital mutilation, forced marriagess with elderly men, rape and domestic violence are norms.
A case was brought forth against some local British military for rape of over 1,400 Samburu women, which led to some Samburu men abandoning their wives, because they were considered to be defiled. Some drove the women out of their houses fearing they would contact sexually transmitted diseases from their raped wives. After that, many women found themselves without homes.
Rebecca Lolosoli, who after being beaten for speaking out against the inhuman treatments on women and for women to know their rights, came up with the idea of creating a village for only women for refuge and a place where they can live life without fear of male violence and discrimination. Fifteen of them came together to found Umoja Village.
Due to the closeness of Umoja to Samburu National park which attracts tourists, the women started out by first selling vegetables but eventually turned to selling traditional crafts to tourists and visitors to the National park.
The Kenyan Wildlife Services took notice of these women and helped them learn other more advanced crafts to improve their businesses. They also had help from Kenya’s Heritage, Social Services and the Ministry of Culture. They run a primary school, cultural center and camping site for tourists. They created and sell jewelries to benefit the village.
Umoja was consistently under attack by the Samburu men and the neighboring villages to shut down the village. Lolosoli’s former husband also organized an attack threatening her life and other women, the women often fled the village for their safety.
the women currently own the land, the population keeps increasing but its still forbidden for a man to be allowed in there. It is a community of enterprising women and girls who earn regular income that provides food, clothing, shelter for all and live happily.
One of the Unique features of the Umoja women is that some of the experienced ones train and educate women and girls of other neighboring communities on the art of beading and other issues of life such as early marriages.