Empowerment through tradition
Handicraft and bead work are a traditional pastime in Maasai culture. Thomson has helped commercialize the practice and given the women artisans of Enyijata Women’s Cooperative a stable income for their efforts.
Financial independence is a new and exciting concept for many women. Profits earned from beading goes toward paying school fees and purchasing goods like maize and sugar for the home. Some women are even advising their husbands on what cows to buy and sell – a remarkable shift from their traditional domestic role. Under this roof, money talks, and women are finally finding their voice in the home.
“I really believe that change within any community starts with the women,” says Happiness Mwamasika, Community Coordinator for Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FoTZC), a US-based NGO partnered with Thomson. “When you empower Maasai women, you are empowering the whole community.”
The men are supportive of this new role, but cautious to accept true independence among their wives. “Men marry women, women don’t marry men,” says Mzee Simat, a Maasai elder. It would seem Maasai men still have the last word… for the time being at least.