Chief Mary has changed the lives of countless Maasai girls.
Chief Mary Kahingo, the only female Maasai Chief in all of Kenya, has a vision to fight for the rights and opportunities of Maasai girls and women - and this is what drives her every day.
Her journey started when she was still in school. She was one of the fortunate few Maasai girls who was able to get an education. Chief Mary grew up surrounded by the severe gender inequality that Maasai girls face, witnessing the harmful social practices that limit these girls' opportunities, and became a firm believer in the social and economic value of empowering women.
"I am the only Maasai Woman chief in all of Kenya. I am encouraging others who went to school to join me to fight for our rights."
Chief Mary became increasingly active in fighting for girls' rights. Thanks to her incredible strength, commitment to her vision, and resilience and courage in the face of opposition, she is now an example of what Maasai girls can achieve.
She has rescued countless young Maasai girls from FGM and early marriage, and has protected many more from abusive fathers and husbands.
In 2009, when the government posted open positions for Chief, I was the only woman who stepped forward for the job. I was denied the position because men protested, issuing threats and mocking me. I was 28 years old. Six months later another position was advertised and I turned up again for the interviews. And here I am.
Chief Mary can often be found driving across the Kenyan savanna to rescue girls she hears are at risk of FGM, early marriage, abuse or neglect.
She shelters vulnerable girls at the Coins for Change Gregoire SafeHouse and personally either finds ways to resolve their issues or enrolls them in boarding schools and watches over them to ensure they remain safe and complete their studies.
Thank you to all of our deeply committed and generous Coins for Change supporters and donors who make this possible! Chief Mary couldn't do it without you.
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