Maasai Women Development Organization (MWEDO) works to give a voice to pastoral Maasai women in remote, impoverished regions of Tanzania. Through the creation and sales of beaded jewelry (designed and produced in traditional fashions), Maasai women can bring themselves out of extreme poverty. Up to 80% of Maasai women are illiterate, and because no healthcare centers exist in their areas, many are at risk for maternal health complications or contracting HIV. MWEDO was established in part to address these education and healthcare issues, with literacy and general education courses, and newly built healthcare centers with free HIV testing.
Community Context The Maasai are a semi-nomadic ethnic group that lives along the Great Rift Valley in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Several centuries ago, the Maasai inhabited vast amounts of territory in the region. Now, due to large-scale agriculture, business developments, and expansion of wildlife reserves and national parks, they have slowly been pushed into more arid regions, endangering their traditional nomadic and subsistence farming way of life. The Maasai that have resisted now live in extremely remote areas where economic opportunity, education, and public services are scarce.