08-03-2021 by Leni Frau
These are important days for the future of many young women from Kenya's Samburu tribes. Just before Women's Day, important signals are coming from the local communities that the ancestral and terrible practice of female genital mutilation, to which the girls of some Kenyan tribes have always been subjected after development and especially before getting married, may be ended forever.
In recent days, President Uhuru Kenyatta, together with other government officials and representatives of NGOs and associations fighting for women's rights, attended a meeting in which the Samburu council of elders and local spiritual and cultural leaders declared that they will do all they can to put an end to the practice of infibulation.
But not only that, through awareness-raising in the villages they will fight early marriages and teenage pregnancies while respecting the wishes of underage girls to be able to continue their studies.
I thank our elders for joining the fight against female genital mutilation," said Kenyatta at the end of the meeting. "The grants that Samburu County will obtain for these battles will be many.
The president was accompanied by cabinet secretaries Margaret Kobia (public service, youth and gender affairs), Keriako Tobiko (environment), Rift Valley regional coordinator George Natembeya, Samburu governor Moses Lenolkulal and other leaders.
Satisfaction was also expressed by Amref, the organisation that for years has been the first in Kenya to empower local communities to end female circumcision.
According to Amref, at least eighty per cent of young girls in these areas are subject to the disgraceful custom, while forced marriages of minors account for 38 per cent.
This decision is not only a vital milestone for local women, but also a milestone in the progress of the fight against gender-based violence," explains Paola Magni of Amref Health Africa on the organisation's website. "We know that to change a tradition you have to start by changing the thinking of those who have been carrying it on for centuries. The redefinition of the 'value of the girl' is fundamental to embarking on a path of change, which starts with awareness and knowledge. The decision came from within, from the communities themselves who, after a long gradual process of awareness and knowledge, decided to leave behind a deep-rooted cultural and identity aspect of their tradition, for the benefit of the well-being, freedom and emancipation of their women.
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