Women in Kenya are moving up. About three hundred women in El Poloi have switched from goat-keeping to farming aloe. They are transforming their economic status and creating educational opportunities for their daughters. El Poloi has been in a drought for a while; they receive less than sixteen inches of rainfall annually. Usually, only a few shrubs and savannah grass can survive. Knowing that other things, such as vegetables, would not harvest well in this climate, the women decided to cultivate Aloe. Four groups were formed to fight poverty and gender inequality. Each group farms at least 3 acres of the plant. A women named Rosemary Putunoi said her group was given forty acres of land. This is when they saw an income opportunity. The men used the aloe to brew a traditional fermented wine made of pounded roots mixed with water, sugar and honey. The women discovered the plants reduce erosion and improve soil and decided to charge fees to herders who wanted to graze animals on their land. They used the money from their aloe sales to pay for their daughters’ education. It gets even better. The aloe plant is considered endangered and aloe propagation is only permitted under a license, which the local groups had gotten. After meeting requirements, they were introduced to Lush, a UK-based retailer of handmade cosmetics. The women won a contract to supply fresh aloe leaves to the company for use in its products. The women no longer have to rely on food aid from the government. They make further income by leading tourist groups on walks, selling beads and performing cultural dances.
I am proud that there are women in Kenya finding ways to improve their economic status and fighting for their rights. Originally, the women would wait and starve while the men traveled miles through desert to retrieve food. Realizing that they could help too has seemed to benefit everyone. They are moving up in the economic status, the men do not have to work as hard and they can feed themselves and their children now. Men who only want their wives to stay at home and not have a say in anything should realize that including women can actually be beneficial. Obviously, women do not have the same physical build as men so they cannot help with everything but they can definitely do everything else a man can do. As you can see, the women brought their ideas, worked with the men and succeeded. They made enough money to pay for their daughters to be educated. This progression turned these women’s lives around. The women saw opportunity so they took their chance and succeeded greatly. It was only a matter of time.