A campaign against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Nakuru and Baringo counties has seen fewer girls go through the harmful rite.
An approach by a non-governmental organization, Dandelion Africa in the past four years improved rural livelihoods, where anti-FGM local proponents at Kampi ya Moto division benefit from community entrepreneurship support.
The four-year-old project directly engaged women and young boys at a recently built youth centre, which promotes inclusion of girls in education and economic generating activities.
Dandelion Africa Executive Director Aszed Wendo said direct involvement of men in the fight had helped individual families drop the practice as it has become more unpopular.
“Boys talking to other boys on effects of FGM has a great impact felt in four villages in the area where we no longer hear about the practice,” said Ms Wendo.
She noted that fighting the vice was a major challenge as it still finds its way back.
“FGM is no longer rampant among the young women anymore but the greatest challenge now is where leaders and civil servants, especially chiefs encourage their wives and girls to go for FGM.
“We need to discard age-old practices that an uncircumcised woman can’t cook for her circumcised son,” she said.
The village resource centre that boasts of a library, computer classes, training area, and sexual reproductive clinic is open to all members of the community.
Under the Girls-For-Leaders programme, 1,803 girls from rural schools are under the mentorship program.
Ms Wendo said the war is far from being won as other areas still practice the harmful practice.
Rongai Sub-county Curriculum Support Officer Allan Nyonda said the programme has helped build confidence and leadership skills noting that beneficiaries can easily be singled out from their peers due to their high levels of discipline.
“Cases of school absenteeism have reduced amongst the girls as fewer are getting married off to old men. Many girls who used to remain out of school during their menses now enjoy access to sanitary pads thereby increasing girls’ school attendance rates,” he said.
Form two student and beneficiary of the program, Simon Wainaina said the programme had made boys to become protector of girls against FGM.
“We have also learned how to keep off drugs and criminal activities,” he said adding boys now enjoyed closer attention as their interests had been neglected.
“We are also in a campaign to remind the society not to lean so much in girls’ rights and forget the men, who play the role of protecting the society,” he said.
Mrs Rose Nerea, a member of the community working with the organisation said involving the young men, who are yet to get married and the newly married has boosted the fight against FGM.
Mrs Nerea said some pro-FGM women had identified their spouses as the greatest impediments to fighting the vice. This saw the men considered as ‘half-men’ as their wives and girls were not circumcised.
“We recently had a case of a chief, who went to address a baraza was barred as many said his wife was not circumcised,” she said.
She noted that the women involved in the programme are benefitting from table banking.