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- Project details
Globally, 140 million adolescent girls have undergone Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), causing severe health problems and school dropouts.
FGM/C presents significant health risks that can lead to death, as well as numerous morbidities that can plague a woman throughout the rest of her life. Complications include severe pain, injury to adjacent tissue, septicemia, infertility, obstructed labor and even death. Research shows that girls who undergo genital cutting are more likely to drop out of school since both girls and their communities consider that this ritual renders them ready for marriage, typically between the ages of 9 and 12. The ritual of FGM is widespread in the Tharaka region of Kenya where we work: 71% of women between 15-49 years old have undergone some form of genital cutting. This is despite the fact that only 5% of women who have heard of genital cutting believe that the practice should be continued (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF, 2008).
How WGEP Helps
WGEP believes that in order to successfully combat the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), solutions must address the practice’s cultural and social underpinnings on multiple levels. In collaboration with our local, woman-run partner organization, Tharaka Women's Welfare Project (TWWP) in Kenya, WGEP developed the Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) as a holistic education program aimed at helping communities in Tharaka, Kenya eradicate this harmful practice by working through these cultural and social issues.
Our ARP program offers adolescent girls village-based empowerment workshops as an alternative path to formally enter adulthood instead of undergoing FGM/C. Girls take part in empowerment workshops with their mothers and other female role models and mentors. In these workshops, girls learn about the harmful effects of genital cutting, human and female anatomy and reproduction, personal hygiene, interpersonal communication and relationship building, family life, personal decision-making and confidence building. Girls celebrate their new adulthood with songs, dance and a celebration culminating in cutting a cake rather than undergoing genital cutting.
Hear from our scholars:
ARP’s Measurable Impact
Since its start in 2007, over 1,700 girls have participated in the program, which has displaced FGM/C in these communities as a means of celebrating girls' passage into adulthood, making it an exceptional practice rather than the norm in these areas. Although 1,700 have gone through the program, even more young women have been spared FGM/C indirectly through the lasting systemic change the program brings about. Incidences of genital cutting in the region have been reduced by 40%. Moreover, girls who participate in the ARP program are more than twice as likely to stay in school.
Furthermore, village residents now come to WGEP and TWWP to request that their daughters be included in the ARP and Sisters to School programs. They understand the benefits of these programs and, now that there is sufficient support in the community, they feel comfortable demanding education and healthy alternatives for their daughters.
I decided to be cut because I did not want to face ridicule for going against the tradition of FGM/C. Luckily, I was introduced to the ARP program through my WGEP scholarship. The program taught me about the harms of FGM/C and explained my rights. When I learned the dangers and problems of FGM/C I decided to stop and say NO. I now act as a mentor for other girls in my village, sharing information with them and encouraging them to participate in ARP.
-WGEP Scholar Terry
My name is Rebecca and I am the mother of 6 daughters. I enjoyed school when I was young, but I had to drop out when I was 12 years old. My parents did not value girls’ education and believed it was time for me to help out more at home. 12 years old is also the time around which girls will undergo genital cutting. Once I went through the process, I was considered a woman, ready to get married and start my own family.
As my first daughter reached the age of 12, she went through the Alternative Rite of Passage program that provides a safe alternative to genital cutting. She did not want to be cut and I supported her decision since I knew from experience the harms it causes. My eldest daughter is now a teacher and my second eldest, Mercy, is a scholar in the Sisters to School program. My 3 eldest daughters have participated in the Alternative Rite of Passage program and I will support my younger 3 through it as well. I want my daughters to have a better life than I have had, so I encourage them to work hard in school and focus on developing themselves.
ARP Cost Breakdown
|Item||Cost||Qty/Ppl||#/Times||Cost in Kenyan Shillings||Cost in USD|
|TOTAL COSTS||1,019,000 KES||$18,315*|
*Based on exchange rate of 1 USD = 100 KES
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