Community elders and religious leaders from across the country today made a commitment to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya by 2022.
The leaders made the commitment at State House, Nairobi during a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
The declaration by the opinion leaders drawn from 22 counties, most affected by FGM, is in support of the declaration by President Kenyatta to end the illegal practice in the country by 2022.
“We appreciate the Government of Kenya’s efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation through creating and implementing progressive policies and legislative frameworks and programmes towards its eradication,” said Josephat Murangiri, the Secretary General of the supreme governing council of the elders of the Meru people (the Njuri Ncheke) who read the elders declaration.
As part of their Anti-FGM efforts, the elders committed to collaborate and work with both the national and county governments and other stakeholders in creating awareness within their communities on the need to promote education and the wellbeing of the girl child.
Speaking at the ceremony, which was also used to launch the national policy on the eradication of FGM, President Kenyatta thanked the elders and religious leaders for agreeing to lead the onslaught against the retrogressive practice and assured them of government’s backing.
The President said FGM is an archaic cultural practice that assaults the wellbeing of individuals and society, and pitched for its complete eradication.
“FGM is a retrogressive practice whose continued existence in our country in actual fact assaults our individual and our national consciousness.
“The practice is inimical to our shared fundamental values as enshrined in our very own constitution that we as Kenyans passed,” the President said.
He called on Kenyans to shun destructive practices like FGM and embrace progressive cultural activities that bestow honour and dignity on women and girls.
“Just like everything else, a time comes when one gets exposed to newer ways of life. It is time therefore for all of us to discard retrogressive cultures for the benefit of the nation,” the Head of State said.
The President tasked government officials in the line ministries of gender, education, health and public administration to take the lead in championing government efforts aimed ending FGM in all parts of the country.
“If you get any government official either chief or assistant chief who supports this retrogressive culture, inform relevant offices and they will be dealt with firmly,” the President warned.
The President cautioned cross-border communities that escape to neighboring countries to undertake FGM saying he is in talks with his colleagues, regional Heads of State, to ensure that offenders are dealt with even in those jurisdictions.
UNFPA Country Representative Dr Ademola Olajide who spoke at the event said FGM is one of the initial violations of the rights of women and girls.
He said FGM has serious economic and health consequences on the victims. Dr Olajide thanked the President and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta for their leading roles in the fight against FGM and assured them of his organization’s full support in ensuring the country ends the practice by the year 2022.
On her part, Gender CS Margaret Kobia commended the First Lady for her outstanding contribution in the promotion of maternal and child health, and safeguarding women against consequences of FGM like obstetric fistula through the Beyond Zero Initiative.
The President and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta were given special beaded bracelets in honour of their efforts to end FGM in the country.
ICT CS Joseph Mucheru, Canadian High Commissioner Lisa Stadelbauer and Austrian Ambassador to Kenya Dr Christian Fellner also attended the ceremony that was also addressed by Gender CAS Rachael Shebesh.