I have severally said, “By not involving men in the fight against #FGM is like a doctor treating symptoms of a disease and ignoring the disease itself” #MenENDFGM. To end female genital mutilation by 2030 as envisioned by SDG 5 we need to embrace FGM as everyone’s business. All community members’ despite of age, gender or religion should be brought on board to address this issue in the common interest of women and girls and the community in general.
Men often wield enormous power over many aspects of women’s lives as husbands and fathers, as brothers, as leaders of religious and faith-based institutions, as politicians, as heads of state and government ministers, as judges, heads of militaries and councils of elders and hence have a crucial role to play in speaking up against FGM and other harmful cultural practices as well as all forms of gender based violence. Despite this the majority working on ending FGM are yet to embrace and accept engagement of men fully; a fact I can attest to. This is evident from many gatherings happening all over the world where the participation of men is minimal or none. Global end FGM ambassadors are also mainly women and girls.
“Men and boys should be encouraged to join the fight against FGM and when they do so they should be praised” Ban Ki-moon in Nairobi 2014. This can only be achieved by constantly sensitizing, wooing and rallying them to join and embrace the fight against FGM. After all most men from practicing communities have no idea of what happens during the cut . Note the women and girls affected by FGM don’t exist in a vacuum and most of the reasons for FGM point directly or indirectly to increasing marriageability. Who are these potential husbands? What happens when we sensitize half of the population and ignore the other half?
Going forward we need to sensitize young boys in primary schools on the need to shun away from this harmful cultural practice. Many of the boys are brain washed during initiation to adulthood when they are taught on the nature of girls to date or have as female friends. Bear in mind sex education/matters relationship is an elusive topic that many teenage boys are left to discover for themselves. By doing this the young boys stand a better chance of making informed decision when subjected to brainwashing and misleading sentiments.
Ensuring that all community members are at par in the fight against FGM and other harmful cultural practices is an essential ingredient going forward. We cannot afford to ignore anyone. Let’s embrace each other genuinely and remember no region, religion, race or gender can end FGM alone. Ending FGM is a collective responsibility and no contribution is in in vain