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Courageous Christine Kandie visited Finland

Christine Kandie, a Kenyan activist for women, people with disabilities and indigenous rights, visited Finland in late May. She spoke at several public events and met people and organisations in many other occasions.

In line with this year’s theme ”courage”, Siemenpuu brought a truly courageous woman to the World Village Festival organised in Helsinki on 25-26 May 2024. Christine Kandie is the Executive Director of the Endorois Indigenous Women Empowerment Network (EIWEN), an organisation that defends the rights of the Endorois indigenous people of Kenya and their women and disabled members.

Watch the 25-minute video recording of the World Village Festival programme Interview with Christine Kandie: The Underdog’s Path to Community Leader. Christine was interviewed by Sámi civil activist Janne Hirvasvuopio.

Christine was also speaking in a panel discussion Voices from the frontiers of environmental crisis organised by the Extinction Rebellion Finland together with Siemenpuu, FELM and Itäkeskus Library. The discussion featured also Julius Mbatia from Kenya, Hakan Cifci from Kurdistan and Niila-Juhán Valkeapää from Sápmi, and was facilitated by Teppo Eskelinen from the University of Eastern Finland. You can watch the recording at the Facebook page of XR Finland.

Endorois’ struggle for land rights

The Endorois have been forced to migrate twice from their ancestral lands. First, in the 1970s, the Kenyan government evicted them because it wanted to establish a nature reserve on Lake Bogoria for tourism development. In 2003, the Endorois took the case to the African Commission on Human Rights, which in 2010 ruled in their favour. However, the Kenyan government has not acknowledged or compensated the Endorois for their loss.

Since then, climate change aggravated changes in rain patterns and river flows have raised the level of Lake Bogoria by several metres, leaving culturally important sacred natural sites, including those of the Endorois community, under water.

According to Christine Kandie, it is very important to give access rights to natural resources to indigenous communities. And especially to women, because these resources mean empowering them, giving them more power to speak out on these issues. Resources can also organize women, build power from the bottom up.

Founded in 2016, EIWEN was originally an advocate for the rights of endorse women and girls and people with disabilities. EIWEN has since made significant strides in empowering indigenous women in leadership positions and documenting and incorporating traditional knowledge into resource management. It works closely with other organisations, particularly those of indigenous peoples in Kenya affected by evictions and forced displacement, such as the Ogiek and the Sengwer. In addition, EIWEN has been invited to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to share both the challenging realities of the communities and their good stories and practices.

In Kenya, Siemenpuu has supported ten projects of indigenous peoples’ organisations to protect habitats and develop biocultural protocols, or community codes. The protocols collect the communities’ traditional knowledge and create a code of conduct for them to define the terms of use of their natural resources and traditional knowledge. The protocols also enable communities to demonstrate the sustainability of their traditional settlements and way of life to the Kenyan authorities.


Article photo: Christine Kandie being interviewed by Janne Hirvasvuopio at the World Village Festival in Helsinki on 25 May 2024. Photo by Inez Kaukoranta.