Paula Soumaya Domit: Empowering Turkana Women for a Peaceful Future

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Paula Soumaya Domit, a dedicated Conflict Management intern at Shalom-SCCRR and a Master’s student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, has embarked on a transformative journey to empower marginalized Turkana women in Northern Kenya. Through her academic pursuits, data-driven approaches, and a deep commitment to human security and positive peace, Domit aims to create a more equitable future for all.

Driven by a fascination with the complexities of peace, Domit’s academic exploration led her to conduct independent research on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) and Transitional Justice Possibilities. Leveraging case studies in Colombia and Sierra Leone, she collaborated with renowned organizations and research institutions worldwide, employing robust analysis and strategic interventions to foster a more peaceful global landscape.

In the conflict-ridden community of Marti, located in Samburu County, Northern Kenya, Domit’s focus shifted to empowering marginalized Turkana women who faced multiple layers of marginalization, vulnerability, and adversity. Utilizing a human-centric approach and data-driven methodologies, she aimed to equip these women with the necessary tools to navigate their challenging circumstances and pave the way for a more peaceful future.

To establish trust and build meaningful relationships within the community, Domit immersed herself in Turkana women’s culture. Through open dialogue, active listening, and a deep understanding of their unique experiences, she recognized their agency and resilience. Amplifying their voices and acknowledging their significant contributions in the face of adversity became essential components of her mission.

Domit 44Collaborating closely with local partners, Domit and her team designed tailored programs addressing the specific needs of Turkana women. These initiatives focused on enhancing economic empowerment, promoting access to education and healthcare, and fostering social cohesion within the community. By providing skills training, entrepreneurship development, and microfinance opportunities, they aimed to establish sustainable pathways to economic independence.

Recognizing education as a powerful catalyst for change, Domit’s team partnered with local schools and organizations. They created educational opportunities that emphasized gender equality and challenged traditional norms. Through initiatives such as girls’ enrollment encouragement, mentorship programs, and vocational training, they equipped young women with essential skills for a brighter future.

In addition to economic empowerment and education, Domit placed great importance on fostering dialogue and reconciliation within the community. Through community forums and mediation workshops, she aimed to bridge divides, promote understanding, and encourage peaceful coexistence among different ethnic groups. By creating safe spaces for open and respectful dialogue, they empowered community members to address grievances, seek reconciliation, and collectively work towards a shared vision of peace.

The impact of Domit’s efforts has been nothing short of remarkable. The Turkana women of Marti have emerged as agents of change within their community, utilizing their newly acquired skills and knowledge to establish sustainable businesses, increase household income, and advocate for their rights. Moreover, their active participation in community decision-making processes has fostered a more inclusive and participatory environment.

As her time in Marti draws to a close, Paula Soumaya Domit reflects on the profound impact this experience has had on her personal and professional journey. Witnessing the transformative power of empowering marginalized women in conflict zones has strengthened her commitment to promoting human security and positive peace. With invaluable lessons learned from the resilient Turkana women and the extraordinary community of Marti, she remains resolute in her determination to create a more peaceful and equitable world for all.

                                                        By Dominic Wabwireh, SMA

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