There is a small village in Kenya that has been a man-free zone for the last 25 years.
Founded in 1990, Umoja became a sanctuary for survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, rape and female genital mutilation – an illegal practice that is nevertheless still widely practiced in Kenya.
Rebecca Lolosoli is the village matriarch. She, along with 15 other women, came up with the idea of a women-only community when she “was in hospital recovering from a beating by a group of men.”
Umoja was created by 15 other women, but now it has around 47 female inhabitants as well 200 children. It even has its own clinic as well as a school.
“Outside, women are being ruled by men so they can’t get any change,” Seita Lengima, an elderly villager told the Guardian. “The women in Umoja have freedom.”
In the village, survivors of male violence are taught skills, such as bread-making, to earn money and support their children. A tourist campsite is also run by the women to supplement their incomes.
“I have learned to do things here that women are normally forbidden to do,” stated another villager named Nagusi. “I am allowed to make my own money, and when a tourist buys some of my beads I am so proud.”
The all-female community has provoked the ire of local men. The villagers, especially Lolosoli, have often been threatened. But these brave women have remained defiant.