FGM prevalence in West Pokot stands at 74%(KHDS, 2014) .Some of the factors that have attributed to this percentage include; culture, poverty,marriageability and peer pressure.Some reformed cutters admitted that they turned to cutting girls as an alternative source of income since they had no other job.Also,in the Pokot culture, an uncut girl is consider to be dirty and may bring a bad omen to the society.For this reason many succumb to societal pressure and end up getting cut.
Amidst the Covid_19 pandemic, about 300 girls were subjected to FGM in various parts of West Pokot. This called for an urgent action from I_Rep Foundation.
What we do to curb FGM
I_Rep works with all community members to ensure that harmful practices such as FGM and Child marriage are put to an end.We conduct community sensitization and awareness on the effects of FGM in West Pokot county. Through end FGM campaigns, public barazas, meetings with different stakeholders, and dialogue with the community. Also, we conduct radio talk shows and social media campaigns.
Women empowerment through beadwork.
Beading has been a culture that has been in existence since time in memorial in West Pokot. When turned into a commercial activity, women will have an alternative source of income and abandon practicing FGM. Some of the reformed cutters admitted to cutting girls for money.
With the launch of the Johari beading initiative in 2021,a partnership between UNFPA, the Anti-FGM Board, Ushanga Kenya Initiative and EcoBank which is geared towards the economic empowerment of women, Women from pastoral communities practicing FGM will transform beading into a commercial project that will create a sustainable source of livelihood.
I_Rep currently works with a group of 40 women; including reformed cutters on a bead program “Gifted Hands of Kotulpogh,” to create bead works that can compete effectively both in the local and international markets.The women received various beading materials such as beads, threads, and needles. The beadwork training helped women to perfect their skills and abandon FGM. As we conduct the training, we also look for markets for their beadwork and advertise their products. To reach a wider audience we launched an online shop “Gifted Hands of Kotulpogh” and we hope in the coming year the proceeds from the sale of these beads will improve the lives of these women.
Engaging men and boys
Ending FGM cannot be successful without ropping in men and boys.In the Pokot culture, most men marry women or girls who have undergone the cut as they are thought to be clean .With support from other partners such as Men End FGM Kenya, we have worked with men and boys in Pokot Central to ensure that they join forces to end FGM.