Not everyone believes that this is a man’s world. Just take at the women of Umoja, a Kenyan village. In Umoja, says The Guardian, men are banned.
Yes, you read that correctly. Located in the grasslands of Samburu in Kenya, Umoja was founded in 1990 by 15 women, all survivors of rape by local British soldiers. Since then, the village’s population (which includes 47 women and 200 children) also includes women escaping other terrifying brutalities such as child marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence. Many of these practices are normal in the nearby Samburu.
And in Umoja, women and girls who seek refuge are taught how to trade to help support and raise their children in an environment without fear of violence or retribution.
“Outside, women are being ruled by men so they can’t get any change,” said Seita Lengima, an elderly villager. “The women in Umoja have freedom.”
The women are not completely cut off from the outside world. They run a nearby campsite where safari tourists often stay. For those interested in visiting the village, they charge a fee to welcome additional tourists who might purchase the jewelry they make and sell.
“I have learned to do things here that women are normally forbidden to do,” said one villager named Nagusi. “I am allowed to make my own money, and when a tourist buys some of my beads I am so proud.”
In 2013, some women from Umoja worked with outside officials to address their longhand reports of rape and assault from soldiers. However, no action came from their efforts. Still, Umoja is now celebrating their 25th anniversary and it doesn’t seem like their efforts, organization, successes and sense of refuge will end any time soon.
“We don’t have much,” said Mary, a 34-year-old villager, “but in Umoja I have everything I need.”