Breaking Out of the Boma

For the past century, Maasai men have been the sole financial providers for their families. However, with increasing droughts and dwindling land access due to conservation, men are becoming unable to provide for their multiple wives and families. Many women, often forbidden from working and yet unable to watch their families suffer, have forgone societal norms and started businesses — selling small goods like petroleum jelly or snuff tobacco from their homes or nearby markets. While usually making less than $5 USD a week, these women risk abuse and community backlash for their actions. In recent years, NGO’s and veteran Maasai businesswomen have created women’s collectives that provide support to this new generation of Maasai businesswomen. With these collectives, opinions towards women are shifting.

The photos follow three generations of women in Oltukai Village, Tanzania as they learn from each other, struggle to grow (or start) their businesses, and challenge their village’s conception of women. 

The accompanying short film.

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