Coordinated community action against FGM in Kenya

In rural areas of Kuria, Kenya, we’re running an ambitious project to dramatically reduce female genital mutilation (FGM), in partnership with Education Center for Advancement of Women and Orchid Project.

We’re encouraging communities to abandon FGM, by raising awareness and promoting alternatives.

Woman and child from Kuria, Kenya.

Coordinated community action against FGM in Kenya

In the Kuria region of Kenya, around 80% of women have experienced FGM, typically when aged 12–16 but sometimes as young as 6. This traditional rite of passage usually involves leaving school and entering marriage. Aside from restricting education, FGM harms girls’ physical and mental health.

The practice has been illegal in Kenya since 2011 but persists for several reasons: girls who reject FGM may be viewed as unclean or unfit for marriage; community elders receive ‘cutting’ fees; and parents receive dowries (gifts) when their daughters marry. Since 2010, Feed the Minds has run several projects across villages of Kuria to help end FGM, with local partner Education Centre for the Advancement of Women (ECAW). Since 2016, we’ve also partnered with YWCA Kenya, and from 2015 we received support from The Church of Scotland Guild.

Our approach to ending this entrenched problem includes involving and educating the whole community, including clan elders, church leaders, parents, health workers, teachers, girls and boys. We’ve trained community ‘paralegals’ and young peer educators to increase awareness of the harm caused by FGM, and to involve others in ending the practice.

We run community, youth and parent forums to encourage dialogue about FGM and girls’ rights and have specifically trained older paralegals to influence elders, the group who often perpetuates FGM. In the last year alone, we ran dozens of forums in two districts, reached 600 people through a roadshow and made a radio programme reaching more than 3,500 people.

Additionally, we run Girls’ Empowerment Programmes (GEPs) so girls can learn about their rights, FGM, discuss issues freely and build their confidence. Ending with a graduation ceremony, this increases self-esteem and inspires girls to stay in education.

From 2014 to 2018, our work will have directly involved over 10,000 adolescents and adults, with impressive results:

  • Our work has initiated over 25,000 conversations around FGM and gender rights.
  • Over the course of the project, fewer girls than usual underwent FGM.
  • Increasing numbers of parents and youths support girls’ continued education and are against FGM.
  • 80% of GEP participants feel positive about their future and confident to stand up for themselves.
  • 70% of participants openly speak about FGM at community forums to discourage those still practicing it.

“My Grandmother called a circumciser to cut me. I had to plead for my father to protect me. He has vowed never to subject me to FGM because he has learned the side effects.”

Find out more about Coordinated community action against FGM in Kenya

International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM 2018

Here, you can read a our latest blog from 2018’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.

FGM in Kenya

In 2011 we launched a research paper at the House of Commons on FGM practices. Working with our partner, Orchid, we hope to spread awareness in Kenya and the UK and encourage alternative practices. You can download the paper from the publications section of the website.

What activities does the project undertake to combat FGM/C?

Media advocacy

ECAW publicises activities that help create awareness and raise concerns on FGM/C and early marriage to lobby support from government and well-wishers. They share positive stories of women who have not been cut and those who have experienced difficulties in order to discourage the practice.

 

 

Partnership with Church of Scotland Guild

We are delighted to announce that we have been selected by the Church of Scotland Guild to be one of the Partnership Projects for 2015- 2018. In line with the Guild’s strategy for the three years, ‘Be Bold, Be Strong!’ we will work together in the fight to help combat FGM.

For more information click here.

ECAW visit Feed the Minds in London

“Once girls are cut, they drop out of school, get married and have children. Their education is ended. I wish to help, because I’ve been through it and I know what it means…”

In July 2016 we were delighted to host Christine from ECAW. You can read about the drinks reception we hosted here.

What do we mean when we say "zero tolerance to FGM"?

Zero tolerance can mean different things to different people. But what we know at Feed the Minds is that, when approaching the matter of FGM, one needs to take a community-wide, patient, educational approach. We explore what we mean when we say “zero tolerance” here.