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Kindly help Rural Women Peace Link rescue girls in West Pokot from FGM and early marriages by donating to support their formal education.

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Paybill: 891300
Account: 16643

Business Name: MCHANGA
Reference: 16643

Business Number: 891300
Account Number: 16643





Story

Early marriage and Female Genital Circumcision (FGM) are still the boogeymen of the girl child in West Pokot. Despite concerted efforts by many in recent years to eradicate them these two practices are still enshrined in the region, especially in the remote villages. Strict adherence to age-old cultural practices has for years ensured that the future of the girl child is scripted by her parents and the community at large. FGM and early marriage are closely-knitted together in the Pokot communities. FGM is a rite of passage that symbolizes that a girl has crossed over to womanhood. Hence a girl who has undergone the cut is usually deemed ready for marriage and from then on it is a matter of when a suitor comes calling. It is common for girls as young as 13 to be given out for marriage and many times they become subsequent wives to old men.

West Pokot County has a youthful population with people below age 15 making up half (52%) of the total population. More than a quarter (29%) of girls aged 15-19 years in West Pokot County have begun childbearing; this is notably higher than the national rate. Specifically, 22.8% have ever given birth compared to 14.7% at the national level. West Pokot County’s age specific fertility rate for girls aged 15-19 (adolescent birth rate) is 133 births per 1000 girls, which is considerably higher than at the national rate (96). FGM is linked to obstetric complications and gynaecological problems, and long-term negative effects on women’s wellbeing. About one in four (24%) girls aged 15-19 in West Pokot County reported that they have been circumcised.

When it comes to formal education there is a pronounced bias towards the boy child in most Pokot families. This means that in families that are fairly well off financially only the boys get to be schooled. A majority of the Pokot community face poverty hence even parents who may want to educate their daughters find that they are not able to do so. When the pull of culture and the brunt of poverty are coupled together they eliminate the slimmest chance that the girl child has to become a scholar and an influential person in the society. Consequently, in a largely patriarchal community, the future or welfare of girls are easily sacrificed at the expense of amassing wealth in the form of bride price. One can only imagine how many dreams and aspirations have been smothered through the years seeing that rarely does any girl get to complete her Ordinary Level studies.

 In light of these greatly disturbing facts there is a clearly a need for a mind shift among the many Pokot families that still hold these practices dear. This can only be done if such families realize that girls are also worthy of being given the liberty to chart their own paths in life. They need to wake up to the fact that girls are capable of matching their male counterparts in being the drivers of change and development in the society. This can only be done if the girls are rescued from these backward practices by being given the opportunity to get a decent formal education. While this cannot be pulled off overnight, rescuing one girl at a time will move us closer to achieving the vision. We are targeting 12 girls in 12 months for the year 2018.

Emma Kerubo Mogaka    -    254721748208