This year’s Day of the Girl national celebrations was held on 15th October, 2020 in Sololo Primary School, Marsabit County under the theme “My Voice, Our Equal Future.” The event was presided over by the Chief Administrative Secretary, Hon. Rachel Shebesh and acted as a platform to highlight the challenges of the girl child in modern society.
The International Day of the Girl is marked annually on 11th October to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
This year’s celebration focused on addressing their demand to live a life free from gender-based violence, harmful cultural practices and HIV and AIDS.
The event was hosted by the Anti-FGM Board in collaboration with the Marsabit County Government and the Borana Council of Elders, 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 Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and teenage pregnancies.
The Chief Administrative Secretary urged the local community to shun FGM and maintained that the outlawed practice infringes on the rights of girls and women and is not a religious rite of passage and instead blamed retrogressive cultural practices as the reason the harmful practice is rampant in the county.
In her keynote address, the Chief Administrative Secretary, welcomed the declaration made by 41 Gumi Gayo, a Borana Council of Elders who renounced the practice of FGM.
“I am impressed by the move made by the Borana Council of Elders today to renounce FGM. We appreciate this as we all put our best foot forward in support of H.E. President, Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to end FGM by 2022,” she said.
Hon. Shebesh called upon the elders to help in cascading down the President’s directive to the grassroots level with a renewed focus on elimination of the outlawed practice. “I want to appeal to you the elders present here today to help us in cascading the President’s directive especially at the grassroots level where many girls are at risk of being subjected to FGM,” she reiterated.
The Chief Administrative Secretary also urged the local administrators and the community at large to support the move made by the elders to ensure that Borana community becomes part of the communities to achieve zero FGM by 2022.
Anti-FGM Board Chairperson, Ms Agnes Pareyio called on the Chiefs and their Assistants to support the elders through the implementation of the Presidential directive and challenged them to be his foot soldiers on the ground.
“Efforts should be undertaken to substantially reduce the current national FGM prevalence rate of 21 percent to zero 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.
On her part, Marsabit County First Lady, H.E. Alemitu Jattan acknowledged the efforts that have been done by the Anti-FGM Board towards the elimination of FGM. She, however, called upon the Government to put up more rescue centres for the girls.
Other leaders present were Marsabit County Commissioner, Mr. Paul Rotich, Anti-FGM Board members, Anti-FGM Board CEO, Bernadette Loloju among other National and County Government officials.
By Maurice Goga