Over 1,000 women in Mbeere region within Embu County have come together to fight gender based violence, child marriages and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Addressing a women empowerment forum at Makima market organised by the Embu County Gender department, Mary Makau said they had rescued over a dozen girls from the cut this holiday.
Makau who is the chairlady of Mwangaza Women Rights Organisation said they were also engaged in basket weaving and Bee keeping to empower themselves economically, thus financing their activities.
She further said the organization has over 86 groups whose members have been trained on fighting against FGM, which is common in the area during school holidays.
“We sensitize the community on the danger of female circumcision, such as difficult childbirth, contracting diseases and even dying from bleeding. The community has heeded our advice and many people have joined us in fighting FGM,” noted Makau.
She revealed that recently they received a report of planned FGM activity in the area and were able to rescue the girls who had not been subjected to the cut and took to hospital those who had already been cut.
“We are following a lead that two girls aged 14 years had been married off in the region that we may rescue them and arrest the offenders,” she pointed out.
The chairlady observed that long school holiday poses challenges and risks of children being exposed to various vices, and hence the reason why the organisation engages as many women as possible to avert such occurrences.
On economic empowerment, she said the women groups were engaged in making baskets, but noted that the main challenge they face is getting market for their products.
Dr. Joan Mwende, Embu Gender and Children Executive who graced the event said the county will organize an art and craft exhibition early 2019, where the women will showcase their products and be linked to international market.
“I’ve seen the products they are making and you see they are good enough for the foreign market. We will intervene and have them find sustainable markets and buyers abroad. Even the elderly women are involved and producing valuable products,” she said.
Dr. Mwende further noted that FGM prevalence in the County stands at 30.7 percent saying that the county government was targeting the women to change the mindsets of people still engaged in FGM as a way of ending it.
By Kimani Tirus