In a world where men’s only clubs are still common (we’re looking at you Augusta National Golf Club), Kenya’s Umoja village is putting their own spin on it. For the last two decades, this women’s only village has been a refuge for many, and a place for women to learn, grow, and find happiness.
Umoja is home to women from all over the country. Women are fleeing forced marriages, rape, sexual abuse, tribal violence, and even widows exiled by their previous communities have found a home in this Kenyan village.
“In a traditional village, women may not have had the opportunity to exercise leadership, to be in control of their wealth or resources, and they would more likely experience domestic violence, female genital cutting, child marriage and other traditional practices that discriminate against and physically harm women and children.” Celena Green whose organization “Vital Voices” work with the women of Umoja, told Safe World for Women.
“Ideally, no woman or girl should ever have to flee her home to come to Umoja in the first place,” she added. “But ultimately, the aim of Umoja is to provide an emergency safe haven for those women who are in distress, and more importantly to contribute toward building communities where everyone is valued and can succeed,” Green added.
The women of the village sell beadwork and use the profits collectively to provide food and basic necessities to its villagers. Profits are also used for medical fees and operating a school serving the village’s children and adult learners. Women from nearby communities come to the village for workshops that educate them about human rights, gender equality, and violence prevention.
While most may think of the village as a female man haters club, that it definitely is not. Males are allowed to sleep in the village, as long they are children being raised. Many younger residents of Umoja also still plan on marrying and raising families, the only difference is they plan to do it at their own will and terms.
To read more about Umoja visit A Safe World for Women.