The Maa women want the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team to address gender-based violence and cultural practices like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) that have historically affected them.
Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday during a breakfast meeting, women from Samburu, Narok, Nakuru, Kajiado Laikipia, Baringo, and Marsabit counties echoed their support for BBI.
The women also expressed their concern over the representation and inclusivity in government, women empowerment, land injustices, and retrogressive cultural practices.
“Majority of Maa women largely occupy the borders like all other pastoralist communities, living in arid and semi-arid areas and continue to face cattle rustling, gender-based violence, poverty, and drought,” Maa Women’s Network Chair Angeline Yiamiton said.
“We are here courtesy of our desire as women, to be present and to be included,” she added.
Yiamiton said that despite Kenya profiting from the Maa cultures, they (Maa women) have not economically benefited from the trade in cultural ornaments like beads.
She further questioned the number of women who were involved in that trade and how many had benefited from their beadwork, adding that they had not benefited from those things, and it was essential for the excluded women to be recognized.
The chairperson also said that Maa women needed to be educated to help them avoid the cycle of poverty.
“Even as we ask for space, we do so as vulnerable and marginalized. Our illiteracy rates are very high… Even as we support the commonwealth agenda, there must be ways that women from Maa communities can sit at the table.” she stated.
In 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta convened a meeting with the elders from 22 FGM hotspot counties, and they promised to work closely with the President and the national government to get rid of FGM.
The elders, along with religious leaders, made substantial pledges to ensure eradication of the vice and that girls are offered safe spaces. It was then that the President established the national policy for FGM eradication.