• Statistics show that 9.5 million girls below the age of 18 are cut every year.
• The Somali community leads at 98 per cent, followed by the Samburu at 94 per cent.
More needs to be done to completely eradicate female genital mutilation and boost the gains made so far.
That was the resolution reached during the celebration of International Day of the Girl at Iftin Girls Secondary School in Garissa county.
Government, non-state actors and the community in Garissa acknowledged that although the fight against FGM had made tremendous gains, a lot more needs to be done to end the outlawed practice.
Garissa is among 22 counties with the highest prevalence of FGM.
Statistics show that 9.5 million girls below the age of 18 are cut every year. The Somali community leads at 98 per cent, followed by the Samburu at 94 per cent.
But according to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, FGM prevalence reduced from 21 per cent in 2014 to 15 per cent in 2022.
Anti-FGM Board CEO Bernadette Loloju said focus should remain on reaching out to the parents and guardians, especially those in remote areas where FGM remains rampant.
She urged the government, partners, civil society, philanthropists, individuals, the private sector and opinion shapers to invest in the girl child.
“Our girls are the light of our lives, the hope of our nation, the pinnacle of humanity and must therefore be treated as such. We should always respect and cherish girls in our lives since they are the foundation of our generations,” Loloju said.
“We must go out of our way in ensuring that we eliminate FGM in our country because it is not only against the law, it is also endangering the health of the girls.”
Loloju who acknowledged coming from a community that still holds on to the retrogressive cultural practice, challenged girls to remain focused and believe in their abilities and capabilities so they can be successful.
“We have made significant changes and tremendous paradigm shifts regarding the position of women in all development agenda. We have changed stereotypes, perceptions and attitudes regarding women and girls. We made it. Why not you? Time and chance happen to everyone. Girls your time is now. Yes, it can be done. Your abilities are unquestionable,” she said.
Loloju said there is need to bring men on board to confront patriarchy - the root cause of gender inequalities and negative masculinity. She said this will promote behaviour change and boost positive masculinity.
Acting county commissioner Solomon Chesut said the government with the help of other state and non-state actors will continue to be on the lookout for those carrying out the harmful practices and ensure they are arrested and prosecuted.
He directed chiefs and assistant chiefs to strictly issue identity cards to students who have finished Form 4.
Chesut said it has been discovered that many underage youths were applying for identity cards before attaining the required age of 18 years.
“We have discovered the trick is being used out here. Unfortunately, this is being aided by parents and some administrators," he said.
"Going forward, the administrators are under strict instruction to only issue IDs to those who have finished Form 4. Let them also produce birth certificates to help determine their right age,” he said.
Garissa Deputy Governor Abdi Dagane challenged the local administrators and the security apparatus to be in the forefront in ensuring the circumcisers and the parents who are known to be ccutting their girls are arrested and taken to court.
During the meeting, parents and guardians were singled out as the weakest link in the fight against FGM.