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

The worst date I’ve ever witnessed: waiters share their stories

From the toe-curlingly awkward to the jaw-on-floor shocking.

by Moya Crockett
20 Feb 2017

Men open up about “the one that got away” in thought-provoking video

But not all is as it seems…

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Feb 2017

This app tells you where sex crimes have been committed in your area

But would you use it?

by Moya Crockett
20 Feb 2017

Meet the woman who converted a trailer into a prosecco-filled vino van

All aboard the Vino Van...

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Feb 2017

TV show praised for startlingly realistic portrayal of panic attack

“Never seen a truer portrayal of the signs, symptoms, and fallout of anxiety”

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Feb 2017

Emma Watson on why Disney's Belle isn't a victim of Stockholm Syndrome

She has some strong words for critics of Beauty and the Beast's relationship

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Feb 2017

The loneliness crisis: can you really make friends on an app?

"I’m filled with a warm, first term at Malory Towers-style hope"

17 Feb 2017

People are more scared of deadlines than they are of actually dying

Makes sense to us.

by Moya Crockett
17 Feb 2017

Seven year old girl asks Google for a job - and gets the best response

"Dear Google boss, when I am bigger I would like a job."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
17 Feb 2017

The Love Actually cast have already started filming their reunion

And there are behind-the-scenes photos. WE CAN’T DEAL.

by Moya Crockett
17 Feb 2017