Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Inside the feminist village that has banned men for 25 years

3656368315_6c19fed26c_o.jpg

There are currently 47 women and 200 children in Umoja. The number of men? Zero.

The village, situated in the grasslands of Samburu in northern Kenya, has banned men for the last 25 years according to a recent in-depth article by the Guardian

Surrounded by a "fence of thorns" and isolated from the neighbouring villages, the women-only community has become a refuge for survivors of sexual violence, rape, child marriage and female genital mutilation, which are norms in Samburu culture. 

Rebecca Lolosoli, founder of the Samburu's feminist village

Rebecca Lolosoli, founder of the Samburu's feminist village

It was founded in 1990 by Rebecca Lolosoli, described as "the village matriarch", after she recovered from a beating by a group of men for speaking to women in her village about their rights.

“Outside, women are being ruled by men so they can’t get any change,” Seita Lengima, an elderly woman tells reporter Julie Bindel. “The women in Umoja have freedom.”

One member said she ran away from her husband after one day of marriage, in 1998: “I was traded for cows by my father when I was 11 years old. My husband was 57.”

“I came here because of problems with my husband,” said another woman who says she was raped by the British Army. “The British army got me when I was collecting firewood. There were three of them. They pushed me to the ground. Since that day, I have always felt pain in my chest whenever I remember.”

The village has provided suffrage and a new lease of life for these women.

The woman of Umoja dancing

The woman of Umoja dancing

“Although the inhabitants live extremely frugally, these enterprising women and girls earn a regular income that provides food, clothing and shelter for all,” writes Bindel.

“One of the unique features of the Umoja community is that some of the more experienced residents train and educate women and girls from surrounding Samburu villages on issues such as early marriage and FGM.”

“Every day I wake and smile to myself because I am surrounded by help and support,” says Judia, a 19-year-old who ran away from home at the age of 13 to avoid being sold into marriage. 

Read the full article about Umoja, Kenya's feminist village, on The Guardian.

Related

trainers.jpg

Read this woman’s open letter to man who fat-shamed her during her run

gynaecologists.jpg

Lie back and relax: conquering our fear of the gynaecologist

period-bad-blood.jpg

Taylor Swift's 'Bad Blood' is now a brilliant tampon tax parody

BIC womens day.png

‘Act like a lady, think like a man’: Bic apologises again

rexfeatures_3457732a.jpg

What happened when a man shamed a woman's outfit on the tube

tired.jpg

“I'm Tired” photo series spotlights everyday discrimination

Comments

More

Muslim witness of Westminster attack responds to Islamophobic trolls

A picture of the woman walking on Westminster Bridge has been shared widely

by Nicola Colyer
24 Mar 2017

Bright, beautiful and bold Easter cake inspiration

Stylish bake ideas to nick and claim as your own

by Amy Swales
24 Mar 2017

An Avengers-style Disney princesses film could be in the works

24 Mar 2017

All the new emojis set to light up our keyboards

From breastfeeding to broccoli

24 Mar 2017

There's a sex side-effect which benefits you for 48 hours, study finds

It's all about what's known as the sex "afterglow".

by Hayley Spencer
24 Mar 2017

This is how much the houses in Big Little Lies cost

Spoiler: they're VERY expensive.

by Hayley Spencer
23 Mar 2017

Scientists reveal why you need to stop flaking on plans with friends

Don't flake it 'til you make it

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Mar 2017

Revealed: the number one reason that women break up with their partner

The truth hurts

23 Mar 2017

Been zombied? There’s now a name for this confusing dating behaviour

It's time to talk about the zombies of the dating world...

23 Mar 2017

10 female anthems to share with your mum this Mother's Day

The most moving anthems about motherhood by our favourite female artists.

by Alice Vincent
23 Mar 2017