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Natural leather: a tool to foster Maasai women empowerment

Maasai pastoralist communities rely almost entirely on livestock and their households’ economies have been undermined by climate change effects with loss of livestock and traditional grazing areas. Women are the most vulnerable component of Maasai society and the majority of them is excluded from formal economies and income-generating activities.
The project “Natural leather: a tool to foster Maasai women empowerment” founded by the Waldensian Church (1st March 2019 – 29 February 2020), aims to increase the resilience of the Maasai communities in Northern Tanzania. The intervention, implemented by Oikos East Africa in partnership with Arusha District Council, supports the strengthening and improvement of three women-led enterprises, for a total number of 30 members, in the communities of Mkuru, Uwiro and Oldonyowas.
These groups, created in the framework of ECOBOMA and TERRA projects, produce natural tanned leather and leather items, a promising sector to create alternative and sustainable income opportunities in the area.
During the initiative, the groups improve their skills in natural vegetable tanning techniques and in the production of small leather items such as bracelets, belts, earrings, and necklaces. The project also provides a training on business, marketing, and sales management to ensure the economic sustainability of these social enterprises.
This business represents a unique opportunity for Masaai women to find a way out of poverty and to enhance their role in Maasai communities, increasing their social inclusion and their active role in resource management.