"In the past, Kuria women were not allowed by their husbands and fathers to do business or pursue education. We have changed that tradition, and now we have women in all spheres of life. Society is beginning to understand the value of an empowered woman.”
– Coletta Boke
Board Chair, Migori Community Traditional Negative Practice Mitigation Organization
From an early age, Coletta Boke dedicated herself to advocating for the rights of women and girls after witnessing the severe oppression of women from her indigenous Kuria community in Migori County, Kenya. In addition to being subjected to harmful traditional practices including female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, she also saw that women were forced to be entirely dependent on their husbands or fathers because they were systematically denied education and employment opportunities. This financial dependency left many women unable to leave abusive partners, often perpetuating cycles of violence, and without an education and job skills, even those who were able to escape were then trapped in poverty that continued through generations. Coletta vowed she would fight against these injustices.
She began by joining several women-led groups where human rights leaders educated her on how to combat social injustices. Taking the skills she’d learned in these early days, Coletta then rallied other women to speak out against FGM, child marriage, and other forms of gender-based violence plaguing their community.
Eight years ago Coletta joined Migori Community Traditional Negative Practice Mitigation Organization (MICONTRAP), where today she chairs the board. MICONTRAP operates a wide range of programs designed to fight gender-based violence and support socially, politically, and economically disadvantaged people across Migori County. They provide vocational training and job placement services, support for orphaned children and people with disabilities, and educate communities on HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, and the harmful effects of FGM and child marriage. “FGM has been the biggest demon in many communities, especially Kuria and Maasai. The fight against the practice has been elusive, but we shall never give up because we are making great strides.”
Having been involved in advocacy for women and girls for nearly 30 years now, Coletta has seen firsthand how MICONTRAP and other community-based organizations like Kakenya’s Dream have brought promising transformation to indigenous Kuria and Maasai communities alike. She shares, “In the past, Kuria women were not allowed by their husbands and fathers to leave their homes and do business or pursue education. I am glad we have changed the tradition, and now we have women in all spheres of life. Society is beginning to understand the value of an empowered woman.”
Coletta says it is deeply gratifying to see so many girls who were once at risk of FGM and child marriage instead grow into successful career women through the support of MICONTRAP.