It is often believed that if you want to woo a people start by winning over the persons they pay obeisance to and revere the most, that is indeed the technique Femnet has used through the men to men programme in a project dubbed “Working with Religious and Cultural Leaders to Promote Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) for Women and Girls in Kenya” currently being implemented in Tharakanithi and Homabay counties.This project seeks to breath life into the Sustainable Development goal no. 5 of Gender equality whose objective is to dismantle longstanding systemic discrimination and address structural barriers that limit women and girls advancement and rights. This includes specifically elimination of discrimination and harmful traditional practices such as child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), ending violence against women/girls in both public and private spheres.
Even with the promulgation of the Anti FGM act of 2011 the practice has not stopped hence laying the foundation of Femnet’s intervention of engaging cultural and religious leaders to advance SRHR of women and girls in their communities using their influence and goodwill. This engagement has mainly been through training of trainers which has produced over 600 advocates of SRHR culminating into an evident reduction of FGM cases, an increase in number of reported cases through the toll free 1195 line ,conversion of female circumcisers into non circumcisers and increased awareness of citizens on the impact and need to end FGM,not forgetting increased societal dialogues on FGM and women’s rights in non traditional spaces where the trained church leaders and Njuri Ncheke leaders are actively sensitizing their communities.
This intervention has finally received the support of the county government such that by 2016 when the project ends Femnet will not have qualms of stalled progress of the project since there will be strong existing structures in place to enable the smooth continuity of the work they have started. With this I believe we shall have moved a step towards making the lives of women and girls count by protecting and promoting the sexual Reproduction health and rights of women hence successfully getting FGM out of a cultural docket and enshrining it into a health docket which is a right for all men and women to enjoy as stipulated in Sustainable development goal no. 3 whose focus is on ensuring healthy lives and promotion of well being for all.