Tuesday, August 8


Umoja: The Land of No Men

by Staff writer

Do you know there is a village in Kenya comprised of only women?

Umoja Village was founded 27 years ago as a safe haven for women and girls who wanted to escape abuse and the harmful effects of patriarchy.

In conventional Kenyan patriarchal settlements, women are treated as property.

Started by Rebecca Lolosoli, the Umoja Usau Women’s Village is a place where widows, orphans, victims of rape, genital cutting, and forced marriages can live together in peace.

‘Umoja’ means unity in Swahili language, and the women who live there make jewelry and other crafts to provide for their children, and rely on tourism as well.

Men are forbidden to live in the village, but can visit as long as they abide by the women’s rules.

Despite saving up for the land and buying it, the women still face struggles of persecution from men.

Men have beaten them in front of tourists, blocked the road that leads to Umoja, and tried to prevent them from buying land.

Despite all the obstacles, Umoja has thrived and has become a great example of a successful matriarchy.

The village looks like a normal village in Samburu: huts are built from a mixture of earth and cow dung, and the houses are surrounded by a fence of thorns.

In 2006, the reported population of Umoja consisted of 50 women and 220 children.

Residents of Umoja engage in traditional Samburu crafts - such as colorful beads and home-brewed low-alcohol beer analogue - which they sell by the road leading to the Samburu Reserve and on its website.

This allows them to earn enough money to live.

In traditional society, children are engaged in Samburu grazing with six or seven years, but in the village of Umoja all children go to school.

Residents themselves have the opportunity to attend a school where they learn to read and write.

Arithmetic, typing, and other basic skills are also taught in the school.

Umoja operates a short set of rules. Women have to wear traditional clothes and beads. Smoking and genital mutilation are discouraged. Women may hire men for grazing, fencing village briars, and other forms of manual labor.

Umoja women also help educate women of nearby villages about women's rights, gender equality and violence prevention.

The women of Umoja have repeatedly been threatened with violence and periodic attack.

Men once tried to establish a rival village a kilometer from Umoja.

Men from the neighboring village have also threatened Rebecca Lolosoli, who founded Umoja.


Photograph credit: Georgina Goodwin for the Observer


  1. nigeria needs this,the rate of domestic violence is crazyyy,i bet you if it happens here,that village would be the richest

  2. I would have gone to live there but I too love dick


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