About the Author: Nicole Peacock serves as the Public Outreach Officer in the Bureau of African Affairs.
On March 9, 2010, Rebecca Lolosoli received the Vital Voices 2010 Global Leadership Award for her efforts to end violence against women in her Kenyan community. Lolosoli, a Vital Voices Global Partnership Alumna, met with representatives from the Bureau of African Affairs to discuss her work on behalf of Kenyan women.
Lolosoli's empathy for widows and children compelled her to speak out on behalf of victims of rape, forced marriage, female genital cutting, and homelessness. In the 1990s, she too became homeless. Determined to improve the lives of others facing similar situations, Lolosoli and 15 other women created the Umoja Uaso Women's Organization in the Samburu District of Kenya.
Since the program's establishment, Umoja Uaso has become a refuge for women who refused to tolerate the cattle raids, gender-based and sexual violence, lack of property rights, and more recently the impact of small arms. The program has become both a sanctuary and a training center for those seeking to promote human rights and economic empowerment, and it promotes the preservation of indigenous art and crafts.
Lolosoli's efforts to empower the women of Umoja have resulted in their ability to provide for their children and themselves through the sale of their beaded jewelry and crafts. Under Lolosoli's leadership, the Umoja Organization has inspired change in surrounding communities. Lolosoli continues to inspire change as she works to promote women's rights and create opportunities to empower women.
To find out more about Rebecca Lolosoli and other Vital Voices 2010 Global Leadership Awards recipients, click here.