Connecting the Dots with Christine Kandie

Photo Credit: EIWEN

The Endorois Indigenous Women Empowerment Network's executive director shares her powerful testimony on advocating for the rights of Indigenous women and persons with disabilities in Kenya.

Earlier this year, Azimuth World Foundation, in collaboration with Jamii Asilia Centre and Global Wisdom Collective, co-hosted a side event at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. This event provided a platform for our partners to share the framework of "Revitalize the Roots," an intergenerational knowledge-sharing project they have developed for the Endorois community in Kenya. But the event also allowed us to hear from remarkable speakers who shared their experiences in passing down traditional Indigenous knowledge to the younger generations.

Among these inspiring speakers was Christine Kandie, a member of the Endorois community and the Executive Director of the Endorois Indigenous Women Empowerment Network (EIWEN). Founded in 2016, EIWEN initially served as an advocacy platform for the rights of Endorois women, girls, and individuals with disabilities. Over the years, it has grown in its ambition to champion the rights of Indigenous communities all over Kenya and across Africa.

The Endorois people have twice faced forced evictions from their ancestral lands. The first was prompted by the government to create a game reserve for tourism development, and the second was due to the devastating impacts of climate change. Christine's unique perspective as an Endorois woman and a person with a disability enables her to present the importance of intersectional approaches in securing the rights of Indigenous Peoples with much more clarity. EIWEN's distinctive approach encompasses a broad spectrum of issues, aiming to holistically improve the lives of those it serves. From empowering Indigenous women to assume leadership roles to documenting traditional knowledge and integrating it into resource management through the creation of the Endorois Biocultural Protocol, EIWEN has made significant strides.

Ms. Kandie has taken her experiences and powerful message to international platforms, gaining visibility and garnering support for her community's struggles. She has also forged global alliances and is a shining example for countless communities facing similar challenges. We are truly honored that she has joined us on "Connecting the Dots."

Play the video version below (English and Spanish subtitles available), or scroll down for the podcast version and the transcript in English and Spanish.

Are you a podcast fan? Make sure you subscribe to the podcast version of our Connecting the Dots series here. 


I'm Christine Kandie, or Kandy,from Kenya. I'm from the Endorois Indigenous community. I work with an organization called Endorois Indigenous Women Empowerment Network, acronym of EIWEN. I'm the executive director.

The formation of this organization was to look at the cross-cutting issues that have continued to marginalize women and persons with disabilities, not only in the Endorois community but within other Indigenous communities of Kenya.

As an Indigenous woman with disability, we face a lot of issues. And that is why somebody like myself was able to think critically about the people who are going through the same challenges. Because for someone to identify us, he has to understand the different levels of marginalization that describe a woman with disability. One is marginalization because you are an Indigenous person. Secondly, it is because you are a woman. And the third one is because you are a woman with disability. Most often, that kind of interconnection from the layers of marginalization, mostly, people don't consider those ones as a factor that can really continue to marginalize someone.

So I'm happy as the director because we've been able to bring our voices all the way from the Endorois community to the UN, the Permanent Forum, share our realities of the issues affecting us at the ground, grassroots, and even share our practices - good stories - of languages transfer, conservation.

Photo Credit: EIWEN


The Endorois community had a long struggle for land rights, starting all the way from 1974 because the community was evicted to create room for conservation. And Lake Bogoria was declared a conservation zone, and the community were told to move because it was a tourism destination. It was good for the government to get revenue from the tourism action, and they did not consider that our actions as Indigenous People, were preserving the area and very important.

So we had a very long struggle demanding for our rights, demanding for recognition, and even speaking about the issues that we went through, that we felt, it was not considered, it was not put with a Human Rights perspective into place, so we took the issue from the lower level all the way to the African Commission way back in 2003, when we were advised by our lawyers to take the issue to the African Commission. And we were happy because there was a determination of such issues by the Commission in 2010. We celebrated and thought that it was justice being served for the community by the community.

But we didn't know that the process was the beginning of a dialogue, and even another level of a justice process that has never been realized. Because as I speak at the moment, it is 13 years down the lane, after we celebrated the outcome of the African Commission, that the Kenyan government has never implemented those recommendations, like recognition, restitution, payment for damages...

By that time we wanted to believe that we got something… We've engaged in generations and generations of struggle. So that means there's a lot of disconnect between different generations, and our work as an organization is to ensure that we have a continued struggle out of these issues, and that's why we came here now, to understand different people within our community that all of us are not equal. We have special needs, like for Indigenous women, for persons with disabilities, for children. How do we engage all of them in the struggle? How do we connect our struggle to them?

Photo Credit: EIWEN


As a community, as the Endorois community, we've faced eviction not only by government forces but also by the impacts of climate change. When I say this, is that the consequences of climate change - we have rising sea levels, we have rising temperatures, we have so many other interlinked issues of health, maybe scarcity of water, and all that - but for our community, because we were evicted by the Kenyan government to create a way for tourism, we had to settle in the neighborhood of Lake Bogoria, not far away from Lake Bogoria. But again, because of the impacts of climate change, we had water, rising water levels of the lake, again coming all the way to where we live as a community, and again displacing us.

So it is very unfortunate that we are seeing these impacts of climate change, that we were not even aware, because we are feeling the consequences, and we don't know what were the actions, why is there a rise in the water levels. Though we are being faced with the consequences, we try to mitigate the impact with traditional knowledge, on what we do, with traditional healing. We do a lot of traditional practices around Lake Bogoria because we have been told by our elders. We are also trying to document those issues.

And again, you know, when we talk about climate change, we're talking about those people who are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. And because we're an institution working to empower women and persons with disability, we also try to make them understand that they're very vulnerable. We want also to have leadership in them, to speak about the issues. So leadership means that we do empowerment, we build their capacities, we make them understand so that they can have a voice to speak about those issues.

We empower them to continue building their resilience and be able to mitigate or leverage on the loss and damages that the consequences of climate change have imposed on them.

Photo Credit: EIWEN


I wish my community to get full reparations for their case that they have in the African Commission. We also wish to have a collective movement, not only within our community but across the region, that is, Africa, and even the globe, so that we can connect our struggles. And that is something I want to see in the next years because I believe we have lessons from ourselves that can help other Indigenous communities across the world to really learn from our struggle and use our struggle to strengthen themselves.

Though I know, at this global space, it is very difficult for us to get resources to help us continue the work of self-determination, but I would really wish to see, mostly, resources, because again, being a woman and being a woman with disability, we experience the disadvantage of not getting resources to continue empowering us, especially resources that can help our organization to be more resilient to unforeseen future events.

I wish to see a situation whereby there are assertive efforts to consider supporting the actions of Indigenous women, because Indigenous women and Indigenous women with disabilities have a whole hub that has knowledge, and they can provide, they can use their leadership to solve the immediate crisis they are facing.

Photo Credit: EIWEN


You know that Indigenous communities have been facing extreme marginalization just because they occupy areas that are so dear to them. And in those areas, in reality, from the legal framework, it is recognized as unused land. But for us, Indigenous communities, we are using it for livelihood. So there is a lot of disconnect.

And in that regard, it's very important to get resources to Indigenous communities, Indigenous women, because those resources means empowering them. It will keep more strength to speak about those issues. The resources, again, will also maybe organize them, build power from below.

There is the issue of insecurity of land tenure. Climate change is really feeling on us. It's having a devastating impact to us, especially our livelihood, our self-determination and all that.

All that work requires resources for us to continue building our voices and leadership so that we can be able to tackle all that on. As I talk about the issue of securing land tenure, there are also the issues of carbon credits, which is also coming all the way to our land as Indigenous People. So if we don't get resources to Indigenous communities directly, it means that we risk losing Indigenous land.

There's a discussion going on about carbon credits and loss and damages, which is really if we are not strengthening the Indigenous community or organization, we will risk maybe auctioning those Indigenous territories to… For investors, results, and all that. And interfering.

And that one means that we are losing our identity, we are losing our heritage, we are losing our culture. Because the land is of importance to us, it connects us to our wellness, to our previous ancestors. It really gives us room to do our traditional healing and practices, which are so dear to us.

Photo Credit: EIWEN


The Endorois Indigenous Women Empowerment Network is a loose network for Indigenous persons with disabilities, and we are also trying to be a national voice for Indigenous women.

Currently, we did research on barriers on rapid response, on barriers to persons with disabilities to access leadership, and we want to use that outcome now to influence how the policy framework can be changed.

And apart from that one, we also want to strengthen on resource management. So how we can strengthen on resource management? It means that we need to document our ways of doing. We have the Biocultural Protocol that is in place. We had one we launched in 2019, but we realized that, in that cultural protocol, we didn't have the voice of women and persons with disabilities. So we want to strengthen on inclusivity. Inclusivity and maybe intersectionality. We want to ensure that everyone is on board.

In our work as an organization, we try to look back. When we look back, we identify those groups that are struggling to catch up with the rest of the Indigenous movement. So, when I look back, I see an Indigenous person. When I look back, I see a woman, I see a girl child who is unable to go to school. That is exactly what we do: We help them catch up with the rest.

The Indigenous movement and Indigenous practices is not about me, it's about us. And when I say us, everyone is on board. Thank you.

Photo Credit: EIWEN


Soy Christine Kandie, o Kandy, de Kenia. Soy de la comunidad Indígena Endorois. Trabajo con una organización llamada Red de Empoderamiento de las Mujeres Indígenas Endorois, acrónimo de EIWEN. Soy la directora ejecutiva.

La formación de esta organización aspiraba a examinar las cuestiones transversales que han seguido marginando a las mujeres y a las personas con discapacidad, no sólo en la comunidad Endorois, sino también en otras comunidades Indígenas de Kenia.

Como mujer Indígena con discapacidad, nos enfrentamos a muchos problemas. Y es por eso que alguien como yo fue capaz de pensar críticamente sobre las personas que están pasando por los mismos retos. Porque para que alguien nos identifique, tiene que comprender los diferentes niveles de marginación que describen a una mujer con discapacidad. Una es la marginación por ser Indígena. En segundo lugar, es porque eres mujer. Y la tercera es porque eres una mujer con discapacidad. La mayoría de las veces, ese tipo de interconexión de las capas de marginación, la gente no considera esos como factores que realmente pueden seguir marginando a alguien.

Así que estoy contenta como directora porque hemos sido capaces de traer nuestras voces desde la comunidad Endorois hasta la ONU, el Foro Permanente, compartir nuestras realidades de los problemas que nos afectan en el terreno, e incluso compartir nuestras prácticas - buenas historias - de transferencia de lenguas, conservación.

Photo Credit: EIWEN


La comunidad Endorois ha librado una larga lucha por el derecho a la tierra, desde 1974 porque la comunidad fue expulsada para crear espacio para la conservación. Y el lago Bogoria fue declarado zona de conservación, y a la comunidad se les dijo que se trasladaran porque era un destino turístico. Era bueno para el gobierno obtener ingresos del turismo, y no consideraron que nuestras acciones como Pueblo Indígena, estaban preservando la zona y eran muy importantes.

Así que tuvimos una lucha muy larga exigiendo nuestros derechos, exigiendo reconocimiento, e incluso hablando de los problemas que pasamos, que sentimos, y no se tuvo en cuenta, no se puso en marcha con una perspectiva de Derechos Humanos, por lo que llevamos el asunto desde el nivel inferior hasta la Comisión Africana allá por 2003, cuando nuestros abogados nos aconsejaron llevar el asunto a la Comisión Africana. Y estábamos contentos porque hubo una determinación de esas cuestiones por la Comisión en 2010. Lo celebramos y pensamos que se hacía justicia para la comunidad por la comunidad.

Pero no sabíamos que el proceso era el inicio de un diálogo, e incluso otro nivel de un proceso de justicia que nunca se ha realizado. Porque en este momento han pasado 13 años después de celebrar el resultado de la Comisión Africana, que el gobierno keniano nunca ha aplicado esas recomendaciones, como el reconocimiento, la restitución, pago por daños...

Entonces queríamos creer que habíamos logrado algo… Hemos tenido generaciones y generaciones de lucha. Eso significa que hay mucha desconexión entre las distintas generaciones, y nuestro trabajo como organización es garantizar una lucha continua para salir de estos problemas, y por eso hemos venido ahora, mostrar, por las distintas personas de nuestra comunidad que no todos somos iguales. Tenemos necesidades especiales, como para las mujeres Indígenas, para las personas con discapacidad, para los niños. ¿Cómo involucrarlos a todos en la lucha? ¿Cómo conectamos nuestra lucha con ellos?

Photo Credit: EIWEN


Como comunidad, como la comunidad Endorois, nos hemos enfrentado a la expulsión no sólo por el gobierno, sino también por los efectos del cambio climático. Cuando digo esto, es que las consecuencias del cambio climático - tenemos un aumento del nivel del mar, tenemos un aumento de las temperaturas, tenemos tantos otros problemas de salud interrelacionados, tal vez la escasez de agua, y todo eso - pero para nuestra comunidad, porque fuimos expulsados por el gobierno keniano para generar ingresos para el turismo, tuvimos que instalarnos en los alrededores del Lago Bogoria, no muy lejos del lago Bogoria. Pero, de nuevo, debido a los impactos del cambio climático, tuvimos agua, los niveles del lago subiendo, de nuevo llegando hasta donde vivimos como comunidad, y de nuevo desplazándonos.

Así que es muy lamentable que estemos viendo estos impactos del cambio climático, que ni siquiera éramos conscientes, porque estamos sintiendo las consecuencias, y no sabemos cuáles fueron las acciones, por qué hay un aumento en los niveles de agua. Aunque nos enfrentamos a las consecuencias, intentamos mitigar el impacto con conocimientos tradicionales en lo que hacemos, con nuestra medicina tradicional. Hacemos muchas prácticas tradicionales alrededor del Lago Bogoria porque nos lo han dicho nuestros mayores. También estamos intentando documentar esos problemas.

Y de nuevo, cuando hablamos de cambio climático, hablamos de las personas vulnerables a los efectos del cambio climático. Y como somos una institución para empoderar a las mujeres y personas con discapacidad, también intentamos hacerles comprender que son muy vulnerables. También queremos que sean líderes, que hablen de los problemas. Así pues, liderazgo significa que potenciamos sus capacidades, les hacemos entender para que puedan tener voz para hablar de esos temas.

Les capacitamos para seguir aumentando su resiliencia y ser capaces de mitigar las pérdidas y daños que las consecuencias del cambio climático les ha impuesto.

Photo Credit: EIWEN


Deseo que mi comunidad obtenga reparaciones totales para su caso con la Comisón Africana. También deseamos un movimiento colectivo, no sólo en nuestra comunidad sino en toda la región, es decir, África, e incluso el mundo, para que podamos conectar nuestras luchas. Y eso es algo que quiero ver en los próximos años porque creo que tenemos lecciones que pueden ayudar a otras comunidades Indígenas de todo el mundo a que realmente aprenden de nuestra lucha y la utilizen para fortalecerse.

Aunque sé que, en este espacio global, nos resulta muy difícil conseguir recursos para ayudarnos a continuar la labor de autodeterminación, pero realmente me gustaría ver, sobre todo, recursos, porque de nuevo, ser mujer y ser mujer con discapacidad, experimentamos la desventaja de no obtener recursos para seguir empoderándonos, especialmente los recursos que pueden ayudar a nuestra organización a ser más resistente a acontecimientos futuros imprevistos.

Deseo ver una situación en la que haya esfuerzos asertivos para considerar el apoyo a las acciones de las mujeres Indígenas, porque las mujeres Indígenas y las mujeres Indígenas con discapacidad tienen todo un hub de conocimientos, y pueden proporcionar, pueden usar su liderazgo para resolver la crisis inmediata a la que se enfrentan.

Photo Credit: EIWEN


Las comunidades Indígenas se han enfrentado a una marginación extrema sólo porque ocupan zonas que les son muy queridas. Y en esos ámbitos, en realidad, del marco jurídico, se categoriza como terreno no utilizado. Pero para nosotros, las comunidades Indígenas, lo utilizamos como medio de vida. Así que hay mucha desconexión.

Y en ese sentido, es muy importante hacer llegar recursos a las comunidades Indígenas, a las mujeres Indígenas, porque esos recursos significan darles poder. Ayudar a tener más fuerza para hablar de esos temas. Los recursos, de nuevo, quizá también los organicen, construyan el poder desde abajo.

La cuestión de la inseguridad de la tenencia de la tierra. El cambio climático está teniendo un impacto devastador sobre nosotros, especialmente nuestro sustento, nuestra autodeterminación y todo eso.

Todo ese trabajo requiere recursos para que sigamos construyendo nuestras voces y nuestro liderazgo para poder abordar todo eso. Al hablar de la cuestión de asegurar la tenencia de la tierra, también están las cuestiones de los créditos de carbono, que también está llegando hasta nuestra tierra como Pueblos Indígenas. Si no conseguimos que los recursos lleguen directamente a las comunidades Indígenas, significa que corremos el riesgo de perder tierras Indígenas.

Se está debatiendo sobre los créditos de carbono y las pérdidas y daños, que es realmente si no estamos fortaleciendo la comunidad o la organización Indígena, nos arriesgaremos quizás a subastar esos territorios Indígenas a… Para los inversores, resultados y todo eso. E interferencia.

Y eso significa que estamos perdiendo nuestra identidad, nuestro patrimonio, estamos perdiendo nuestra cultura. Porque la tierra es importante para nosotros, nos conecta con nuestro bienestar, con nuestros antepasados. Nos da espacio para realizar nuestras prácticas y medicinas tradicionales, que nos son tan queridos.

Photo Credit: EIWEN


La Red de Empoderamiento de las Mujeres Indígenas Endorois es una red informal de personas Indígenas con discapacidad, y también intentamos ser una voz nacional para las mujeres Indígenas.

Actualmente, investigamos los obstáculos a la respuesta rápida, sobre las barreras a las personas con discapacidad para acceder al liderazgo, y queremos utilizar ese resultado ahora para influir y modificar el marco político.

Y aparte de eso, también queremos reforzar la gestión de los recursos. ¿Cómo podemos reforzar la gestión de los recursos? Significa que tenemos que documentar nuestras formas de hacer. Tenemos el Protocolo Biocultural en vigor. Teníamos uno que lanzamos en 2019, pero nos dimos cuenta de que en ese no contábamos con la voz de las mujeres y las personas con discapacidad. Así que queremos reforzar la inclusión. Inclusividad y tal vez interseccionalidad. Queremos asegurarnos de que nadie se quede atrás.

En nuestro trabajo como organización, intentamos mirar hacia atrás. Cuando echamos la vista atrás, identificamos a los grupos que tienen dificultades para ponerse con el resto del movimiento Indígena. Así que, cuando miro atrás, veo a una persona Indígena. Cuando miro atrás, veo a una mujer, veo a una niña que no puede ir a la escuela. Eso es exactamente lo que hacemos: les ayudamos a ponerse al día del resto.

El movimiento Indígena y las prácticas Indígenas no tienen que ver con un "yo", sino con un "nosotros." Y cuando digo nosotros, es todo el mundo. Gracias.

We are an ally to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities dealing with matters of access to Health and Water and the protection of the right to maintain traditional ways of living in harmony with Nature.

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to