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Emancipation and women rights

Maasai women are the future of Tanzania

Vegetable tanning and leather processing: an opportunity for redemption

In the Arusha Region (Northern Tanzania), the Maasai community rely on farming and animal husbandry for its survival. But in these vast lands of savannahs and steppe between Tanzania and Kenya, the climate is increasingly extreme and unpredictable. Crop yields and livestock health are constantly at risk, and so is the community's livelihood. Finding sustainable economic alternatives is crucial, for the protection of the territory and for the economic and social development of the population. In this great challenge, women play a key role.

Women are the supporting element of the Maasai community. They keep cultural traditions alive, and they allow their families to satisfy their basic needs: in fact, women are responsible for the domestic management of water, food and wood for cooking and heating when the weather gets colder. Yet, a strongly patriarchal society forces them into a role of great subordination and social marginalization, and physical and emotional abuse are a daily threat. For over 25 years, one of our main goals has been to ensure a better future for the Tanzanian women through a path of emancipation, awareness of their rights and search for economic alternatives.

We have done this by supporting hundreds of Maasai women in finding sustainable and alternative economic activities, mainly in the field of traditional handicrafts. We started with the production of traditional Maasai jewelry, through the creation of the social enterprise Tanzania Maasai Women Art, today composed and managed entirely by 200 women. Then, since 2017, we have been giving new life to an ancient but little valued tradition—leather tanning and processing —through the creation of a vegetable micro-tannery in Mkuru. This new small enterprise involves today 6 groups composed in total of 180 Maasai women.
However, the process of making this new women-led small business economically sustainable and independent is still a long one. That's why in the next three years we will support 3 of the most promising groups (90 women) selected from the 6 established in 2017. Through training courses, support for marketing operations and strengthening the managerial skills, we will improve the small social enterprise's production and sales capabilities. The goal is to ensure a steady income and a more dignified future for women and their families.


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