Africa Climate Change Threatens Life and Health of Maasai WomenWNN10Aug2009_Kenya

Date: November 23, 2009
  • SHARE:

This article may be used to highlight:
– Water shortage in Kenya due to climate change
– The impact of climate change in Africa
– Recurrence of droughts in East Africa
– Challenges women face in fetching water
– Fading gender stereotypes
– Women can contribute positively to climate change adaptation and mitigation
– The power of using women’s voice when reporting on issues that affect them

Trainer’s note:
This article present a situation faced by Maasai people in Kenya, East Africa in frequent water shortage due to climate change which seems to put a threat to the lives of Maasai women. It is no doubt that this is a gender aware report but its claim that the water shortage puts a threat to the lives of Maasai women immediately removes the good parts the article posses. Why does the writer says the water shortage puts a threat to Maasai women, what about Maasai men? With this it can be argued that this article, regardless of its efforts to bring to the fore the issues faced by women finds itself perpetuating gender roles stereotypes. And in this case women are relegated to the duties of fetching water which is perceived to be women’s duties. What one would also want to understand from the writer is whether men are not allowed to fetch water.

The articles scores big by avoiding the normal acts by some media reports, presenting women as victims, however, in this case this article frame women as heroes as it is revealed that despite the water shortage the community of Maasai people is facing there are some women within who are coming up with solutions to the problem. The writer reports that “in the face of the crisis, some Maasai people have devised measures to lessen the impact of the droughts. The women of Kajiado, for instance, have taken the lead by constructing cement water tanks for their households. They collect rain water from their iron-sheet roofed houses and store it in the tanks.” This on its own proves that women can do things that can contribute positively to help any society overcome its plight. This statement writes off notions and gender stereotypes that women are passive or that they belong in the kitchen. It is just very unfortunate that these kinds of reports where women are presented doing something positive are very rare in the media.

“The women’s initiative cooperates to construct water tanks from one homestead to another. And they are proud of their work, as Mwoiko makes clear. “We never bother our men to climb up the tanks and make the final touches. We do it ourselves,” says Mwoiko as she adds that the women’s husbands assist financially in the projects.” This statement continues to bury gender stereotypes that women are weak and are not capable to do hard jobs, instead the article present the Maasai women as a very strong group that does not need a men to do things that are normally perceived to be done by men. In that way gender stereotypes are challenged.

The article also does well in bringing the people concerned in to the fore. Throughout the article we read quotes referenced from the women that are talked about in the story. This is a positive move by the writer to invitess these women because it gives the reader a fresh inside into the lives of these people. Unlike many media reports who just report vaguely about the issues faced by women, in this story the reader is given a first encounter with the women and the community in question.

Discussion questions:
– The writer mentions that due to water shortages conflict may arise, what kind of conflict do you think the writer is referring to? Could it also include water fights?
– What do you think are the challenges faced by women while fetching water?
– Do you know of any women group or forum in your area that seeks to take action in fighting the impact of climate change? Share with your group.
– Do you thing it is fair for women to do hard jobs like digging the ground etc? Are there any jobs that you think are only dedicated to any of the sexes, males of females?

Training exercises:
Exercise one:
– Interview any women’s group leader and write a story about them paying attention to gender and stereotypical issues. You can discuss how you are going to go about writing the story with your group to share ideas.

Exercise two:
– Find out about a women’s group at your area that seeks to involve women in an action to fight the impact of climate change. Write a brief report about the group and share the information with your team or group.

Other training resources



Comment on Africa Climate Change Threatens Life and Health of Maasai WomenWNN10Aug2009_Kenya

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *