The annual International Day of the Girl Child (IDG), 2019 commemorations kicked off in Galole, Tana River County attracting hundreds of residents, guests and other stakeholders.
The event under the theme “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable,” was presided over by the Principal Secretary for Gender Hon. Safina Kwekwe at the Gafuru Primary School grounds and acted as a platform to highlight the challenges of the girl child in modern society.
The 11 October is observed each year since 2012 as the International Day of the Girl to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
The event which was spear headed by the Anti Female Genital Mutilation Board (Anti-FGM Board) in collaboration with the Tana River County Government and Dayaa Women Group- a local community-based organization highlighted the needs to safeguard the rights of the girl child and provide them with equal opportunities to prosper and achieve their potential.
Girls empowerment was lauded as the precursor for accelerated national development and social cohesion as they constitute over 50 per cent of the world’s population. Speakers stressed the need to have girls protected from increased cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence such as femicides where girls have borne the brunt more in recent years.
The Gender Principal Secretary urged the local community to shun FGM and downplayed the assertion that the practice is a religious rite of passage and instead blamed outdated cultural practices as the reason the harmful practice is rampant in the county.
The county is among the 22 FGM practice hot spot counties in Kenya with a prevalent rate of 46 per cent.
“ I am a Muslim and nowhere in the Quran is FGM advocated for. FGM is a cultural practice and I urge you to abandon it and help the government to eradicate it. We need to abandon the outdated practices and free the girls from the harmful practice that causes complications in their maternal health, wellbeing and psychological harm,” said Ms. Kwekwe.
“The government led by the President are committed to eradicate the practice by the year 2022. I call upon all leaders, elders, family heads, teachers and all stakeholders to join the government in stopping this practice and embrace alternative rites of passage for the girls that does not cause them harm,” she added.
The Chairperson of the Anti-FGM Board Ms. Agnes Pareyio noted that the Board has worked on some initiatives to help accelerate the abandonement of the practice such as the National Policy on elimination of FGM, Inclusion of Content on FGM in the School Curriculum, Guidelines on Alternative Rites of Passage and Guidelines on Community Dialogues among others.
“Efforts should be undertaken to substantially reduce the current national FGM prevalence rate of 21 percent and lead to abandonment of FGM and other harmful cultural practices by 2022.This will be possible when all actors work together and support the campaign to end FGM and other harmful cultural practices,” she said.
Tana River County Governor Major (rtd) Dhadho Godhana who was represented by his Deputy Hon. Salim Batuyu said that the county has initiated key initiatives to ensure that girls in his county have access to quality education and adequate healthcare and lauded the national government’s initiatives which said complements the county’s efforts.
Other leaders present were Tana River County MP Hon. Rehema Hassan, Galole MP Hon. Said Buya Hiribae, County Commissioner Mr. Oning’oi ole Sosio and UNFPA Kenya Country Director Dr. Ademola Olajide, officials from the Tana River County Government and other dignitaries.