Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting, is a form of gender-based violence that continues to be practiced across the world. The harmful – even fatal – practice includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million girls and women living today have undergone FGM.
The practice of FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights for girls and women. With greater education and advocacy, the movement to #endFGM is growing! More men and cultural leaders are standing up and showing girls and women that they are not alone in this fight!
Attitudes are changing in Kenya
In Kenya, Plan International is working alongside the Ameru community leaders to accomplish a bold goal: eradicate the practice of FGM within a generation. The initiative is being supported by the Niuri-Nceheke elders, who are the traditional leaders responsible for executing community laws, settling disputes and passing on community knowledge from generation to generation. Members of the Njuri-Ncheke are of the highest social ranking and have great influence across the entire Ameru community.
“If we want to end this practice, we need community leaders to explain why it no longer has a place in the community. If the elders support an end to FGM, the community will listen.”
“FGM is a cultural practice in some parts of Kenya that is steeped in tradition,” explains Carol Sherman, Country Director of Plan International Kenya. Having the support from cultural leaders is crucial to breaking cultural stereotypes as many of the groups that practice FGM are in remote areas that solely recognize traditional leadership. Because of their influential status, they are able to change the way people think about FGM and teach others about how it negatively affects the girls and women of their communities.
The Njuri-Ncheke leadership has brought over 40 cases of FGM to the courts and is working with the Anti-FGM Board of Kenya to engage influential members of the community in the fight against FGM. They are passionate about the cause and know that ending this practice has the power to change the lives of girls for generations to come!
See why the Njuri-Ncheke elders (Mzee) want to bring an end to FGM, once and for all!
Photos by Plan International / Armstrong Too
Ending practices that are deeply rooted in gender inequality means engaging everyone – boy, girls, men and women. The Njuri-Necheke elders are an inspiring example of what is possible when community members stand up and motivate others by leading change. You too can empower girls and lead change! As voiced by the elders, let’s break down the barriers so girls can access their rights – enabling them to create a brighter future for themselves, their family and their entire community!