Kenya in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched an initiative that aims to bring to an end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country.
The program dubbed ‘End FGM Beads Initiative’ brings together the UNFPA, the Anti-FGM Board, Ushanga Kenya and the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife in the fight against retrogressive activities that undermine the development of girls and women.
Deputy President William Ruto witnessed the signing ceremony between UNFPA, Anti-FGM Board and Ushanga Kenya at his Karen office, Nairobi.
Addressing the press after the signing ceremony, Dr Ruto said FGM and child marriages have become major obstacles in the development and empowerment of girls and women in the country.
“The impact of FGM and child marriage adversely affects the health, education and overall development of women and girls. Every effort is being made to ensure gender equality. We want to assemble every arsenal to fight retrogressive activities in this country,” said Dr Ruto.
He reiterated the Government’s commitment in fighting FGM, which affects 200 million girls and women around the globe and 23 percent of the Kenya’s populations.
“It’s our responsibility as Government to do what it takes to end FGM activities for the sake of our girls and women,” said Dr Ruto.
He thanked UNFPA for being a solid and pragmatic partner in the fight against retrogressive activities that undermine efforts to attain gender equality in the country.
“This is why we’ve come together with UNFPA to up the game in the fight against this retrogressive practice,” said the Deputy President.
UNFPA representative Ademola Olajide praised Kenya’s efforts and commitment in the fight against the outdated cultural practice, which is a violation of human rights.
He said it is impressive that in the last two decades, Kenya has made tremendous strides in the empowerment of girls through legislative and policy formulation as well as programmatic interventions that address the pressing needs of girls.
Mr Olajide noted that the enactment of laws such as the Marriage Act 2013 and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011, are some of the measures that have been put in place by the Government to safeguard the rights of girls.
“Today marks a milestone as we have come up with efforts to join hands with Kenya in finding sustainable development goals that can improve girls and women economic status thus eliminate FGM in this country,” said Mr Olajide.
He went on: “It is against this backdrop, UNFPA Kenya, Anti-FGM Board and Ushanga Kenya will build on the commercialization of the culturally symbolic beads, to increase awareness and financially empower local communities to abandon FGM and child marriage while sustainably supporting women and adolescent girls to realize their potential through this End FGM Beads Initiative.”
Gender Affairs Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe said Ushanga Initiative seeks to strengthen business and production capacity among women and improve their competitiveness for beads in local, regional and international markets for sustainable livelihoods.
Ushanga Kenya chairperson Hellen Nkaisery said creating a safe environment where women and girls can thrive and grow to be productive members of the society is critical to the transformation of entrenched social norms.
She said gender biases and inequalities could be tackled by working with all members of the community, reflecting a commitment to empowering women and girls.
“Seven counties; Baringo, Marsabit, Narok, Kajiado, Samburu, Turkana and West Pokot, which have embraced the Ushanga Initiative will enlist women through cooperatives to do marketing of beads as well as educate the people on the need to abandon FGM activities in their local communities,” said Ms Nkaisery.
Anti-FGM chairperson Agnes Pareyio said investing in women and girls means breaking the cycle of violence and poverty and contributing to the development of a community and nation.
She said their initiative with UNFPA would also involve counties that have not embraced the Beads Initiative but still practice FGM activities.
Principal Secretaries Josephta Mukobe (Culture) and Ali Noor (Cooperatives) were also present.