Essay on Empowering Maasai Women: The Pastoral Women's Council's Advocacy and Achievements

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1668 Words
Date:  2024-01-13


In most societies, multiple organizations or individuals have dedicated their energies, efforts, resources, and time towards ensuring injustices to the indigenous groups and addressed amicably. The notable human population relocation from the days of colonialism to the current more liberal states across the globe is at times disadvantageous to the indigenous populations. Immigrants, settlers, or newcomers bring new ideas destabilizing the indigenous way of life, and to some extent changing the indigenous culture, oppressing the natives, or even undermining the indigenous population’s culture (Tuck et al., 2014). Consequently, the Indigenous may become a minority group, lack a voice to safeguard their culture, or become disadvantaged in the social, political, and economic order. In such a case, the injustices may be picked by individuals or organizations as they advocate for the rights and welfare of the indigenous groups. The focus of the current paper is to understand the roles of one such group, which has dedicated its efforts to helping indigenous groups and linking the activities of the group with major class themes such as resistance, colonialism, and cultural revival. The organization of interest is the Pastoral Women’s Council and the indigenous group associated with this organization is the Maasai Community.

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Background of the Pastoral Women’s Council

The Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Loliondo, Tanzania, with its operations in the northern part of Tanzania (Maanda, 2008). Tanzania is an African country and more precisely situated in the Eastern African region. The dominant indigenous population in Northern Tanzania is the Maasai community, who are pastoralists by economic activity. The pastoralist the Maasai community practice relies heavily on rainfall, which means they have to migrate from one region to another. The nomadic way of life, pastoral conflicts, and cattle rustling culture impact negatively to women, children, and the family institution. Furthermore, the community is patriarchal, with women having little or no voice in decision-making regarding marriage, education, access to health, and ownership or disposal of properties. These were the main challenges that motivated the founders of PWC. Started as a community-based organization in 1997, the primary focus of the PWC was to promote the development of Maasai pastoralist women and children (Kipuri & Ridgewell, 2008). The organization was founded by ten Maasai women led by the current executive director Maanda Ngoitiko.

The purpose of PWC in empowering the Maasai women and children has focused on facilitating access to education, health, and social services, and enhancing economic empowerment for the Maasai women (Maanda, 2008). With limited rights to own land or rear animals, which are often in possession of men in the family, the Maasai women are overwhelmingly underprivileged economically, thus, the need to have economic empowerment programs that have since elevated their livelihood. Economic empowerment also meant that the girl child got an equal chance as the boy child in education, and they reduced the prevalence of early forced marriage. Education empowerment was also necessary for progressively gaining entry into the community advocating for cultural change and abstaining from harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (Kipuri & Ridgewell, 2008). The PWC vision includes three goals. The first is to ensure that women become empowered to control their economic status, which in the end would improve their livelihoods and enable them to meet daily needs. Secondly, women can have a collective voice and act in solidarity to identify, talk about, and advocate for the improvement of issues affecting them. Finally, educating the girl child would enhance gender equality and raise the status of the woman to modern status (Maanda, 2008). In achieving these goals, PWC relies on donations from well-wishers and grants from the charity or government agencies. The resources may come in terms of money, volunteering services, or materials.

Strategies Used by PWC in Meeting its Objectives

As aforementioned, the Maasai community lives a nomadic lifestyle, and this is the main challenge that faces service delivery or programs by PWC. However, the challenge has not affected the organization’s ability to focus on its main objectives. In achieving the primary objectives, PWC organizes paralegal training for women to understand their rights in terms of property ownership, human rights, and the channels they can use when such rights are violated. The women also get talks on selected topics by prominent people identified as influential guest speakers (Pastoral Women’s Council, 2020) The talks are essential in recounting testimonies and motivating the audience towards setting the bar high in terms of desired expectations and achievements. The organization also organizes meetings where the audience can share ideas with the aim of enhancing their confidence, skills, and knowledge on matters of leadership, human rights, cultural limitations, and economic empowerment (Maanda, 2008). The revolving livestock programs increase the women’s touch in owning and managing properties, which they can sell to meet family financial needs instead of being overly reliant on men’s support.

Effectiveness of its Approach

Since its foundation, PWC has a lot to celebrate in terms of its achievement and effectiveness in realizing its inspirational mandate. In economic empowerment, PWC through micro-credit and saving programs has enabled women to access finances, committee resources for girl child education, and improved women and Maasai family living standards (Kipuri & Ridgewell, 2008). Through legal advocacy for women's property rights, PWC has helped 700 pastoral women in securing either land or properties, which would have otherwise been illegitimately allocated to other outsiders. The leadership forums resulted in training most women in the region to engage in leadership and management positions, something that would have been an impossible dream in the current era. In addition to their achievements, PWC has managed to raise awareness of environmental conservation and land preservation measures.

How PWC’s Work Ties to Major Class Themes

Based on the background information for PWC, the organization’s vision, and journey in advocating and promoting the rights of the Maasai community, there is a lot that relates to the topics of resistance and colonialism.

Resistance as a Theme in PWC’s Activities

The theme of resistance is very much evidenced in PWC objectives. PWC is determined to ensure the Maasai community resists practices that do not promote environmental conservation. The agenda of environment conservation involves the whole community, which based on their pastoralism activities would suffer the most if the land they graze is not conserved. According to Tuck et al. (2014), land issue was a crucial factor triggering natives' resistance to invasion. Similarly, the indigenous community is characterized by practices that undermine the authority, space, and role of women's decision-making, especially economic-related decisions. As such, PWC provides educational and empowerment forums and platforms to ensure that such practices are resisted by all the Maasai women.

The resistance approach adopted by PWC is less confrontational and comes from creating adequate awareness of what practices are good for the community and what cultural practices should be abandoned in modern civilized society. The girl child is empowered to resist practices such as early, forced marriages while the women ensure that the girl child has an equal opportunity to the boy child in terms of accessing education. In a report by Kipuri & Ridgewell (2008), most of the pastoralist communities, including Maasai from Tanzania tend to exclude women socially, economically, and politically (leadership). Resisting such tendencies would ensure that the community appreciates the role of women in society, and grow together as a community.

Colonialism as a Theme in PWC’s Activities

Pre-colonial era, women in the Maasai community did not have a voice, authority, or rights to possess property (Hodgson, 1999). The girl child was considered more or less as a property to be married off in exchange for property such as animals or land. However, post-colonialism, the Maasai community has integrated with other communities, some got an education, and the impact of civility has changed the perception and positional status of Maasai women (Guyo, 2017). A good example is the founder of the PWC organization, who has acquired higher education and started a campaign that sought to uplift the lives of her fellow Maasai women. The community cannot be left behind undertaking cultural practices that offer men more dominant power while trashing women’s rights. Therefore, PWC's vision has a significant inspiration from the colonialism effect in Tanzania. To some degree, the perpetual elevation of men in the Maasai community to the disadvantage of women speaks volumes about the male gender “colonizing” the women gender and seeking to maintain such dominance.


In conclusion, PWC has demonstrated the perfect example of matters of advocacy for gender equality and the empowerment of women in society. In a highly patriarchal society, PWC is demonstrating significant achievements in helping women understand and appreciate their rights to own and manage property, access to education, health, and other social amenities, and awareness of their voice to oppose those practices they consider dubious or insignificant. PWC has demonstrated the power of education and community-linked programs in transforming a whole community. The efforts by PWC should be emulated and adopted by others in promoting and safeguarding the welfare of indigenous populations.


Guyo, F.B. (2017). Colonial and post-colonial changes and impact on pastoral women’s roles and status. Pastoralism 7, 13.

Hodgson, D. (1999). Pastoralism, patriarchy, and history: Changing gender relations among Maasai in Tanganyika, 1890-1940. The Journal of African History, 40(1), 41-65.

Kipuri, N. & Ridgewell, A. (2008). A double-blind: The exclusion of pastoralist women in the East and Horn of Africa. Minority Rights Group International.

Maanda, N. (2008). The pastoral women’s council: Empowerment for Tanzania's Maasai.

Pastoral Women’s Council. (2020). Empowerment for Tanzania’s Maasai. Retrieved December 6, 2020, from

Tuck, E. McKenzie, M. & McCoy, K. (2014) Land education: Indigenous, post-colonial, and decolonizing perspectives on place and environmental education research. Environmental Education Research, 20(1), 1-23 DOI:10.1080/13504622.2013.877708

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Essay on Empowering Maasai Women: The Pastoral Women's Council's Advocacy and Achievements. (2024, Jan 13). Retrieved from

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