TO SENSITISE RESIDENTS

Elders to lead anti-FGM campaigns in hotspot counties

"We also need to tell our communities that girls who have not undergone FGM can still be married," says a participant from Turkana.

In Summary

Government seeks to eradicate practice and child marriages by 2022

Elders from 22 FGM hotspot counties have committed to lead community dialogues and education sessions to sensitise residents against the practice.

The elders made the resolution at a forum in Nairobi on Thursday on spearheading campaigns to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage by 2022. 

The elders were from Marsabit, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garrissa, Tana River, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Narok, Bomet, Baringo, Kajiado, Taita Taveta, Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Laikipia, Samburu and Bungoma.

"FGM goes hand in hand with child and forced marriages," Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Racheal Shebesh said.

Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Racheal Shebesh speaking during the Elders forum to end FGM at Safari Park Hotel, November 7, 2019.
Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Racheal Shebesh speaking during the Elders forum to end FGM at Safari Park Hotel, November 7, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

The elders agreed to sensitise their communities on alternative rights of passage.

"We also need to tell our communities that girls who have not undergone FGM can still be married," said a participant from Turkana.

Somali, Samburu, Kisii and Maasai communities recorded the highest FGM prevalence rates with Somali leading at 94 per cent. Samburu was second at 86 per cent), Kisii (84 per cent) and Maasai (78 per cent).

"Make anti-FGM messaging your personal responsibility as opinion leaders in your respective communities and spheres of influence," Shebesh urged.

Next week, Kenya will host the International Conference on Population and Development which was first hosted in Cairo 25 years ago.

During the conference, governments often adopt a Programme of Action and call for women's reproductive health and rights to take centre stage in national and global development efforts.

According to a press brief, 830 women die while giving birth every day. Another 33,000 are forced into child marriage and 11,000 undergo FGM.

"Every statistic is a real-life trauma for the nearly one in every five women," the statement said.

Data also shows one in every three adolescents is pregnant or has started the childbearing process this year according to the National Council for Population and Development.

Data from the Health Ministry shows close to 500,000 adolescents aged between 10 and 19 fell pregnant in 2018, an increase from 378,397 the previous year.

Beatrice Okundi, NCPD assistant director for population said the government must be tracked and held accountable for policies it promised to implement on women rights.

She also called for increased investments in population and development programmes.

Okunda was speaking during a media sensitisation meeting on ICPD25 in Nairobi yesterday.