In Kajiado County, Kenya, End FGM Ambassadors (EFAs) have been speaking out against FGM. By speaking out against FGM, and by talking with their communities about the negative impacts of FGM, the EFAs have made a significant impact on ending FGM, which has been reflected by the decreasing occurrence of FGM in some villages.
It’s not every day that you find Maasai men talking about female genital mutilation (FGM) with their peers in the village and during the chief’s baraza (a meeting hosted by the chief for community members). However, in Kajiado West, Kajiado County, this is happening.
Children in Freedom (CIF) is an organisation that aims to enhance the ending of FGM by empowering local End FGM Ambassadors (EFAs) to educate and change the mindsets of their community members.
CIF prepared a comprehensive guide that was used alongside workshops to train EFAs from the community. The guide covers topics such as what FGM is, the dangers associated with it, the laws against it, the relevant human rights issues, and the advantages of not cutting girls/women. The guide was designed to change the mind set of men and boys in their community by empowering them to be part of the dialogue.
Armed with this new tool, the EFAs have been reaching out to various individuals and groups across the community, using different approaches and discussion starters to change mindsets. One group brought together 60 fathers and sons and spoke to them about the dangers of FGM. Initially, the men were not fully aware of the implications of FGM, and many had deep misconceptions about the practice of FGM. Using the guide, the young EFAs were able to challenge their beliefs, and helped them to understand how and in what ways FGM negatively affects women.
The EFAs have been creative on how they reach members of the community and have taken every opportunity to share information. One EFA used the village baraza, a community meeting organised by the village chief, as a platform to discuss FGM. On this particular day, the baraza was convened on a public holiday, so the EFA was able to reach 300 people with the end FGM message. Others have been speaking out against FGM during church meetings and youth groups in order to facilitate discussion and create awareness.
The impact of the EFA’s work has been reflected by the decreasing occurrence of FGM in some villages. In December 2016, a time when many FGM procedures are conducted due to the lengthy school holidays, there were no known cases of FGM reported in Indupa. This was confirmed by the school’s head teacher, girl cutters in the village and by the EFAs themselves.
By working with community champions and equipping them with materials, organisations can effectively lower rates of FGM.
Some of the girl cutters have abandoned the practice entirely after taking part in the workshops and by learning about the negative impact FGM has on girls and women. Janet Reriani*, a former cutter said, ‘A family brought their daughter for the cut. I turned them away and told them I had abandoned the practice’.
By working with community champions and equipping them with materials, organisations can effectively lower rates of FGM. Organisations working in other parts of Kajiado County, where the practice of FGM is still widespread, would benefit greatly from adopting this approach to end FGM.
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual
The Girl Generation’s End FGM Grassroots Fund supports local grassroots organisations in some of the countries most affected by FGM. We believe that their local connections, insight and influence mean they are best placed to spark the social changes required for FGM to end. Find out more about what the fund has been able to achieve.