The existence of the Massai women is determined by the care for the family and the submission to the patriarchal system.
Upon reaching the age of 12 – 16, a young woman is given in marriage. The marriage date and the husband are determined by the girl’s father alone. Shortly before the marriage ceremony, the young girl is circumcised. In most cases a young girl will be sold or given in marriage to another, unfamiliar clan. The father of the bride receives a dowry, sometimes a large one, which is paid in the form of cattle.
The women are responsible for life in the boma. There are a number of tasks that they look after. They have to build the hut in which the family lives. The women also have to provide water for the boma. Using mules, the women often have to transport the heavy loads of water from distant watering-holes. Besides cooking, women are also responsible for gathering fire-wood, as well as the morning and evening milking of the animals.