Nairobi, Kenya, Feb 5 – The lack of reliable data on the actual prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya may be hampering the country’s desire to end the cultural practice and ensure that it meets its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 target to end FGM by 2030.
Speaking in Narok during the 2nd national conference on ending FGM on Monday, Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia said that time had come for Kenya to adopt new innovations and use statistics to end FGM.
Kobia announced that the fight against FGM would not be won without Kenya fully understanding the actual situation on the ground saying that numbers were the only way of verifying whether or not the country was on the right track.
She urged the anti FGM Board to adopt the use of numbers in order to custom make strategies designed to end FGM.
“We have a target of eliminating FGM by the year 2030. This is a steep and heavy goal but in order for us to get there, we need to find out exactly where we are now and how much ground remains to be covered. This can only be determined if we use statistics as a baseline. Within the SDGs, ending FGM is very well articulated but we must be able to link it to numbers,” she said.
Kobia further urged Parliament to allocate more resources to the Anti FGM Board in order to empower it further and allow it to take its interventions to the grassroots.
Equality Now Programme Officer in charge of End Harmful Practices, Felister Gitonga, added that Kenya had to adopt a data management system that would paint the actual picture of the FGM situation in the country.
While echoing the CS’s statements, Gitonga observed that Kenya would not meet its 2030 target to end FGM if it did not acknowledge and address the existing numerical gaps.
She added that it was crucial for Kenya to adopt evidence based interventions to guide its strategies and efforts noting that the numbers would help the government to be in a position to better align resources of ending FGM.
“To achieve total eradication of FGM by 2030, we must have data management systems at the heart of our work. That is the only way for us to truly establish whether or not we are making any headway in our desire to achieve our target.
FGM is a cultural and societal practice so how do you measure its reach and impact without the actual numbers?” she asked.
Narok County Women Representative SoipanTuya had earlier censured Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya over remarks he had made earlier in the year calling for mandatory FGM and pregnancy tests among school going girls.
Ms. Tuya pointed out that this was not a solution as it would only victimize the girls. She further called on state and non-state actors to work together to end FGM while underscoring the importance of implementing the law.
“Parading and profiling our girls cannot be a solution to ending FGM. What we need to do is ensure that FGM does not happen in the first place. We have made some strides in this regard and have even created some good laws but if enforcement is not done, they remain pieces of paper,” she explained.
The anti FGM conference will close on Tuesday and is designed to culminate in the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM Day on Wednesday, February 6.