The Maasai Girls Education Fund’s mission is to improve the literacy, health and economic well being of Maasai women and their families in Kenya through the education of girls and their communities.
Currently, 48 out of 100 Maasai girls in Kenya enroll in primary school. Five of them will graduate and go on to secondary school. Less than 1 in 100 will complete secondary school. Nine out of ten will be circumcised and married off before the age of 15.
Persistent poverty and cultural belief systems perpetuate the subjugation of women, denying them basic human rights:
- Right to an education
- Right to choose her husband
- Right to choose if and when to marry
- Right to control what happens to her body
- Right to voice an opinion in family matters
- Right to inherit land
A woman needs two things before she can stand up for her rights: self-esteem and self-reliance. Education can give her both.
That is what the Maasai Girls Education Fund is all about.
MGEF provides scholarships to girls who would otherwise never be able to go to school or who would have to drop out to be married. Every scholarship is continuous until each student has the knowledge and skills to enter the workforce in Kenya. Scholarships cover everything a student needs to succeed in school, including uniforms, books, calculators, and personal hygiene supplies. The program also includes monitoring performance, counseling, and mentoring.
Community Education Workshops
The Community Education program addresses the social customs and cultural beliefs that prevent girls from getting an education. Its goals are to reduce early marriage and teen pregnancy, female circumcision, and the spread of HIV, all significant factors contributing to girls’ dropping out of school. Workshops are held for girls, boys, mothers, and chiefs and elders who have the authority within the culture to bring about change.
Business Training for Rural Maasai Women
MGEF is providing business training and seed grants to rural Maasai women from a generation in which less than 20 out of 100 enrolled in school. It may take as long as 16 years to educate one Maasai girl, who will then have economic independence and be able to assert her rights as a woman. Their mothers do not have this luxury. This program will result in increased enrollment of girls in school by giving women the tools needed to raise the economic status of their families, and the means to educate their children.
Working with the Community
MGEF works in partnership with a community based organization in Kenya, which was created in 2000 specifically to assist MGEF. This partnership model was designed to involve the Maasai community. The Kajiado organization manages the scholarship program and organizes all MGEF workshops with two staff and 56 volunteers throughout Kenya’s Kajiado County, where two-thirds of Kenya’s Maasai population live. They also act as cultural advisors.