Kenya has a population of more than 35 million people comprising of 42 ethnic groups, each with its own language and culture, as well as Asian, Arab, and European Communities, which makes for a fascinating mix of traditions and cultures. Kenya’s multifaceted culture is expressed in different forms, including language, food, music, dance, art, artifacts, theatre, and literature.
Kenya is among the world’s 30 poorest countries, ranking 145 out of 185 countries on the 2012 Human Development Index, and more than one-half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line on less than USD $1 a day. Years of drought in this region have had a serious impact on the well-being of children, increasing malnutrition rates, morbidity, and mortality. Ecologically, Kenya’s landscape has been faced with issues including deforestation, over-exploitation of natural resources, and pollution.
More than 1/2
of the country’s population lives below the poverty line on less than US $1 a day
drought in this region have had a serious impact on malnutrition and mortality rates
From Kenya: Meet the Artisan
Acacia Creations is a fair trade studio based in Nairobi, Kenya that creates beautiful, eco-friendly jewelry, gifts, and home accents.
The group has expanded its reach beyond Kenya, partnering with thousands of artisans in East Africa, the Philippines, and other countries. Acacia Creations aims to help people in a sustainable manner, including by creating jobs, providing training, and giving back to communities through education and healthcare initiatives.
Founded in 2012, JusTea established Kenya’s first small-scale and farmer-owned Artisanal Tea Factory. Today, JusTea continues to support tea farming villages using fair trade principles and offers unique teas to a global market. The organization provides sustainable employment for more than 200 families, allowing them to send their children to school and earn 20 percent more than the industry average. In addition, JusTea offers work opportunities to women; more than 80 percent of the employees are female artisans. JusTea is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Non GMO Project Verified and works with an Herbal Tea Co-op to create better opportunities for women. We are excited to work with JusTea and share these fair trade products with you.
Female artisans at Kasigau Basket Weavers, a social enterprise in Kenya, handcraft beautiful, natural baskets. The female artisans, who are between the ages of 25 and 90, are able to come together and collaborate in units, which leads to increased integration into the community and opportunities for them to creatively exchange ideas and advice to support one another. The income the artisans earn by creating these baskets supports their household earnings, which are usually generated from agriculture and farming. The female artisans have the opportunity to feel empowered, use their voices, and participate in essential decision-making processes at home and in the community at-large. We are proud to work on an exclusive line of vibrant sisal baskets with these artisans and to help generate additional income for them and their families.
Located in the agricultural community of Njoro in Kenya, Kenana Knitters works with 580 artisans, the majority of whom are women. The female artisans have had few income earning opportunities because of limited educational backgrounds and their family responsibilities. By working with Kenana Knitters, which is a profit-share group, they can earn a sustainable income, create long-term economic plans, and take care of their families with a flexible work schedule. Kenana Knitters provides them with access to regular health check-ups, family planning, HIV treatment and counseling, and educational opportunities including daily newspapers. What began as a grassroots organization founded by a local Kenyan in 1998 is now an organization positively impacting and educating hundreds of artisans who can be confident in their work and proud of what they create together. We are excited to work with these talented artisans on an exclusive collection of hand and finger puppets at The Little Market.
Kenyan wood carvers are recognized worldwide for expertly sculpting art from native woods using sustainable practices. The olive wood tree is sacred to Kenyans and appreciated worldwide for its beautiful grain patterns and durability. Kenyan carvers present the beauty of their natural world in finely crafted decorative and functional art. The artisans, their families and communities benefit greatly from the sale of olive wood products.
Meyelo is committed to empowering artisans with sustainable income through their craft. Their long term investment in helping others is the foundation of their business model. By investing in small businesses in developing countries it brings about social and economic change. Every purchase provides artisans in Kenya with a source of fair trade income, support for their community, and a global platform for their work. Many skilled artisans have limited access to education and economic opportunity. Meyelo provides training programs in business practices to ensure the understanding of the global market. Meyelo works with Maasai villages to provide access to education, water, farming co-ops and medical needs. Every purchase supports their 80 artisan partners, their families, and their communities. By creating sustainable programs Meyelo empowers women, girls and their communities.
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
The situation in Kenya concerning human rights is still far from spotless; among some of the problems still faced by the population are: unlawful killings, torture, rape, and use of excessive force by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, and assembly; forced return and abuse of refugees, including killing and rape; official corruption; violence and discrimination against women; violence against children,; child prostitution; trafficking in persons; discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, and HIV/AIDS status; forced and bonded labor; and child labor, etc.
Throughout Kenya's history, women have been subjugated to consistent rights abuses while shouldering an overwhelming amount of responsibilities. Although the constitution has established equality between men and women, women still continue to be educated at an inferior rate to their counterparts, increasing their reliance upon men. They are also limited from owning, acquiring, and controlling property throughout Kenya. Violence against women is widespread and results from certain cultural norms, traditions and stereotypes, as well as discrimination regarding women’s role in society. Domestic violence, rape, Female Genital Mutilation, and human trafficking are endemic. Cultural attitudes that believe women incapable of leadership lead to the exclusion and discrimination of women in politics, and women are still faced with discrimination in the economy and workplace.