RETROGRESSIVE PRACTICES

Let us recognise the role of men in winning war on FGM

More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa

In Summary

• Men's absence in fighting retrogressive cultural practices has deepened discrimination against women. 

• Winning the fight against FGM and gender-based violence takes concerted efforts. 

Girls at the march at a prayer function as they sang against FGM
HARMFUL CULTURAL PRACTICES: Girls at the march at a prayer function as they sang against FGM
Image: Angwenyi Gichana

Every year, hundreds of girls and young women in Kenya are forced to undergo the cut and often this has been advanced behind the cultural practices. Majority of these young girls are from the pastoralist communities and have often been locked out of education and personal growth.

While this practice has been safeguarded for generations, men being at the forefront of ending harmful cultural practices is gamechanger in creating more safer spaces for women. Unfortunately, in a report by the World Health Organization, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.

As we continue celebrating strides made in ending female genital mutilation locally and internationally, it is unfortunate that often, men have taken passive roles and not actively participated in ensuring women are safe. While progress has been made, it falls upon men of our own generation to commit themselves fully through partnership and collaboration to ensure the safety and protection of our girls. In the majority of pastoralist communities, the leadership roles have been traditionally occupied by men and having them on the forefront would be transformational in ending FGM and other harmful practices.

Men’s absence in many of these initiatives has deepened discrimination against girls and women, there has been gender disparity in enrolment and transition of girls in opportunities from one level to the next, especially among the pastoralists. This gap must be closed and the role of men is critical towards this.  Men can foster positive attitudes and raise awareness on the impact of FGM on the health of women and girls.

Governance and political analyst