First National Conference on FGM ends

Written By: Claire Wanja/KNA
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Rev. Connie Kivuti
Acting chairperson Anti Female Genital Mutilation Board Rev. Connie Kivuti

The first National Conference on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has ended in Nairobi with 11 points’ resolutions expected to take Anti-FGM campaign to the next level.

The Chairperson of the conference and acting Chairperson of the FGM Board Rev. Connie Kivuti said in her closing remarks on Thursday that the three days spent gave opportunity for stakeholders in the anti-FGM campaign converged minds to find ways of saving the girl-child and women.

Kivuti encouraged more partakers to join the Anti-FGM campaign, saying that there were important roles for everyone to participate.

She urged those currently engaged in the campaign to involve more players in the society to help in fighting the vice.

Board member Agnes Leina representing civil society and pastoralist communities observed that pastoralist communities were late adopters in the war on FGM, which had hindered development of the girl-child in respective regions.

She said effects of uneducated girls came to full realization when devolved governments were unable to find suitable women from respective counties to take up jobs, hence sourcing them from outside.

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Leina thanked the government for putting in place the Anti-FGM Board that had created a structured headway in the campaign against the malpractice.

Shoba Liban a Board member representing the North Eastern and Upper Eastern regions urged that FGM be made a priority issue in the two regions, adding that voices against the vice should be amplified and the truth spoken out.

She said many women have been divorced because they feared to bear children as a result of the pain occasioned by the mutilation and no one speaks about it.

Protus Onyango, the Board member representing the Principal Secretary State Department of Youth and Gender Affairs, observed that FGM retarded girls’ development and prevented them from being independent women.

He said engaging men in the campaign was important, adding that the value of the educated girl who secured employment could not be compared to the few cows given as dowry, which fathers attached importance to.

Among resolutions reached at the conference was the recognition that Kenya had put in place a legal framework and enabling environment that policy makers and other players needed to take advantage of, to chart ways of ending FGM.

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The conference also resolved that in order to achieve equality as per the Sustainable Development Goal number five, it was important to involve boys and men in the campaign.

Religious and cultural leaders were recognized as playing a key role in mobilizing and leading communities towards the vice.

Embu County Commissioner Esther Maina
Embu County Commissioner Esther Maina (right), in a panel discussion on ‘Exploring the benefits, opportunities and challenges of using prosecution as one of the approaches of addressing FGM in Kenya and the implementation of the Prohibition of FGM Act 2011’

At the same time, the conference recognized the power of the media in shaping perceptions and influencing public opinion, and resolved to engage it to stay true to its power of influence to end the outdated culture.

It resolved that the Government and the Anti-FGM Board would continue to take an active role in campaign to end FGM, and re-affirmed to have partnerships and collaboration between state and non-state actors strengthened.

The Conference also called on all trained health care providers to uphold medical ethics, especially the “Do no Harm” ethic.

It called upon health professionals’ regulatory bodies to ensure that high standards of medical practice be upheld, including commitment to sanction individuals in health facilities that carry out FGM.

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Young delegates at the conference affirmed their commitment to strengthen the youth network in the campaign and resolved to mobilise all young people in Kenya to join.

The conference similarly restated commitment to enhance inter-agency collaboration in implementation of the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011.

It stressed commitment to apply innovative approaches to elimination of FGM using a social norms perspective to guide the selection of appropriate mix of strategies and activities that are most conducive to serve sustained social change.

The conference expressed commitment to enhancing and implementing evidence-based intervention towards elimination of FGM, taking cognizance of dynamics and changes in the practice.

Over 500 delegates attended the conference including representatives from the National Government, County Government, Anti-FGM Board of Kenya, UNICEF, UNFPA, Non-Governmental Organizations, Community Based Organizations, Youth, Children, Religious leaders, Traditional opinion leaders, Media, Health Practitioners, County leaders, among other stakeholders.

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