In Kenya, 23% of young women are married by the age of 18, and an estimated 21% of girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). With support from the Cummins Foundation, Rise Up partnered with the Center for the Study of Adolescence (CSA) in Kenya to implement the Girls Voices Initiative (GVI) to enable Kajiado Girl Leaders to raise their voices against early marriage and FGM and advocate for their rights. CSA selected 24 girls between the ages of 12-14, along with 11 teachers and chaperones, to participate in the GVI Kenya program.
The girl leaders created an action plan to advocate with key decision-makers in their communities to protect girls’ rights and support their right to finish school. To achieve this goal, the girl leaders are asking decision makers to implement Kenya’s Children’s Act (passed in 2001) and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (passed in 2011). In parallel with the girls’ action plan, teachers and chaperones created a plan to support girls in their advocacy strategy and activities.
The program’s approach reflects a hard reality: the implementation of a new law is as important as the passage of the new legislation. For this reason, Rise Up works to build the capacity of girl leaders to stand up for their rights and ensure implementation of such policies, so that girls and women see real change in their lives and communities.
With the ongoing support of Rise Up, CSA will continue working with the GVI girl leaders and allies to advance their advocacy work and create opportunities for them to share their stories and messages with key stakeholders. Stay tuned for more updates as these young girl leaders drive change in their communities and country, from the ground up.