The World Health Organization estimates that some 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of Female Genital Cutting or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is internationally recognized as a human rights violation. Girls and women suffer both the short-term and long-term consequences of this painful and traumatic procedure, which can include shock, haemorrhage, tetanus, bacterial infections, open sores, urinary tract infections, cysts, and infertility, as well as an increased risk of complications during childbirth and newborn deaths.
Girls and women of Kenya’s Maasai community are commonly forced to undergo type-1 Female Genital Cutting – known as clitoridectomy, or the removal of the outer part of the clitoris – when they are adolescents, aged 12 to 14, in a cultural rite of passage into womanhood that aims to lower the girls’ sexual desire and thereby ensure their chastity before marriage and fidelity after marriage. Some Maasai girls manage to escape the procedure by enrolling in distant boarding schools, but these girls often experience difficulties finding employment when they leave school. Unable to make ends meet, many are left with no option but to return to their villages, where they face the risk of being cut.
The solutions we’re proposing
Thanks to higher education scholarships offered by W4’s field partner, Voices of Hope, young Maasai women living in the Central Division of Kenya’s Kajiado District now have the chance to go to university, which will provide them with the qualifications they need to find employment and gain financial independence. With brighter life prospects, these women will become mentors for younger generations of Maasai women, able to protect other girls from the horrors of genital mutilation by offering guidance and training in leadership, life-skills, health education, HIV/AIDS, community development, and entrepreneurship.
The impact of giving
University scholarships for young women like these are vital but costly. You can extend the reach of this project by helping to cover the costs of a year’s worth of textbooks and study materials for these young women scholars. By doing so, you enable more young Maasai women to benefit from the transformative power of higher education. After graduating from university, these young women gain increased self-esteem, the respect of their peers and elders, and the influence they need to help eradicate the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for good throughout their communities!