Having worked in the community, we strongly believe that men and boys can become active agents of change; they have a significant influence in shaping societal norms and can play a key role in challenging the attitudes and behaviors that sustain FGM. They also have a role of challenging harmful gender norms and beliefs that perpetuate FGM so as to create a more equal and just society. Men and boys can raise awareness by speaking out against FGM and sharing information about the harm it causes. They can also support survivors of FGM as well as advocate for policies and programs that aim to end FGM and promote gender equality.
Engaging men and boys in the fight against FGM and other forms of GBV has therefore proven an important aspect in that they can now use their masculine ego to defend the women and girls against the cut. This is done through capacity building and involvement of all stakeholders including: - men and boys’ agents of change, women, opinion leaders, religious leaders, young ambassadors’, pupils and students, nurses, police officers, county and national agencies and other collaborators.
During the commemoration of international day of zero tolerance for FGM, one of our volunteer had the following to say;
“FGM is deeply rooted in my community, so much so that community members cannot fathom living in the same household with a girl who has not undergone the procedure.
Last year August, I was going to the farm at dawn riding on my bicycle. On my way I met 2 women on the road and I noted one was Judy my neighbor. I greeted them and left wondering what they were doing out in the dark. When the day broke, I looked for the lady to understand what was happening. That is when she shared that she had escorted the lady who performs FGM on women and girls and that she had completed the painful procedure on all the girls that had been booked that night. I thanked her for the information and promised her that since my 2 daughters will be of age by December, I would contact her so that the initiator can come. Upon arriving home, I informed my wife who was happy and ready for the occasion during the month of December. It happened that in the month of September, we had our quarterly training with St. Martin staff. I attended and we were trained on children rights, it was such a bad coincidence since they shared some examples which included FGM. It struck me to realize that what I was planning to do was against the children rights and was illegal. Immediately I made a resolve without sharing with my fellow volunteers that my daughters will not go through such a painful ordeal. I shared with my wife about the same but she was adamant, she even threatened to break the family if the girls will not go through the cut like their age mates. She started insulting them and using demeaning words. There were bouts of violence in the family but eventually, she accepted after seeing that am not relenting. Thanks to St. Martin I am now enlightened on the severe physical, social, and psychological consequences of FGM on girls and women, and I did not wish it on my daughter despite protests from my wife and relatives. Consequently, I enrolled my daughter in a boarding school in Nyahururu, away from my community where FGM is rife.”
Another volunteer also added, “I desire to see FGM eliminated from my community. While I acknowledge that this is a tall order due to social and gender norms, St. Martin has equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and willpower to spread the fight against FGM beyond my household into the community.”