Gender activists in Samburu County have launched a campaign against female circumcision and early marriages in the region.
The campaign against gender-based violence (GBV) targets women and girls. During the launch of the programme at Allamano area in Maralal Town on Sunday, the county executive in charge of Gender Culture and Social Services Irene Leluata said GBV had denied girls an opportunity to further their education.
“Gender-based violence and FGM (female genital mutilation) are retrogressive cultural practices that ought to be shunned by the community as they have denied many girls a chance to pursue education,” she said.
“Early marriages have denied our children a chance of improving their lives. As a county government, we shall use all the available resources to fight FGM and early marriages,” Ms Leluata said.
Her office, she said, has drafted a bill, which will soon be tabled at the county assembly to prevent men from marrying minors.
She exuded confidence that the proposed law would end outdated cultural practices that discriminate against women and girls. She lauded the commitment by community elders, religious leaders and chiefs in fighting retrogressive cultural practices.
“The community elders and church leaders have vowed to push for the end of harmful practices by 2022,” she said.
Members of the County Assembly, youth advocacy groups and civil society organisations have joined the county government in fighting gender based-violence.
Samburu Girls Foundation Manager Moses Letitoiya said high poverty and illiteracy levels are to blame for high prevalence of FGM and early marriages in the county.
“We have rescued around 56 girls from early marriages,” he said.
The official noted that the number of rescued girls might increase during this holiday season as some parents are known to marry off their daughters in exchange of livestock.
Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Ann Lenturkana underscored the need to educate the community on the importance of enrolling girls in school as one way of fighting FGM and early marriages.