The Head of Department for International Development (DFID) in Kenya, Lisa Phillips joined over 450 young Maasai girls and leaders from Kajiado County in a ceremony to denounce FGM and celebrate an alternative rite of passage (ARP). The event dubbed: “Let Girls Be Women without the Cut” is a joint effort of community elders, religious leaders and county government in Kajiado in conjunction with AMREF-Kenya where girls graduate to women without undergoing the cut. The event was graced by the Chairperson of the Anti-FGM Board of Kenya, Hon. Linah Jebii Kilimo, Deputy Governor Paul Ndiati, County Commissioner, Ole Kikwa and representatives from AMREF-Kenya.
Speaking at Rombo School in Loitoktok, Lisa Phillips, Head of DFID Kenya said:
I am very pleased to be part of this event to witness girls graduating into women without undergoing the harmful practise of FGM, which is also one of the most harmful acts of violence against women. This problem is not unique to Kenya but affects women across the world, including in the UK. We must all work together to ensure women and girls achieve their potential free from discrimination and from harmful practices.
Ms Phillips encouraged the girls to embrace education as this was going to have lasting impact on their success in the community and the world.
Apart from speeches from leaders, the celebrations involved cultural blessings of the girls by the elders, public anti-FGM denunciations from local leaders, girls, morans and cultural elders and some personal testimonies on FGM. The girls were later awarded certificates as a show of passage from childhood to womanhood.
The alternative rites of passage is a cultural 3 day event which embraces the positive cultural training and ceremonies that involve initiating girls from childhood to womanhood but removes the harmful cut. ARPs are normally done during school holidays in April, August and December when the girls are usually circumcised.