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Fantastic news! Domtila who is now Project Manager, (Kenya), completed the Guardian sponsored poster campaign just before Xmas which she also filmed.

The poster campaign involved an art competition with local school girls who were asked to design a poster depicting their thoughts on FGM . This was part of the Guardian media campaign to end FGM. (See previous post on Guardian/UNFPA global multi media campaign against FGM recently launched by Ban Ki-Moon at UNHQ, Nairobi) It was hoped that posters with a simple graphic image would reach remote rural areas where marginalised people have no access to T.V., radio or newspapers. Many areas in Pokot county have never had any FGM sensitisation whatsoever and are not aware of the dangers or the illegality of FGM. Sadly some local Chiefs chose to turn a blind eye to the practice so as not to lose popularity.

The Guardian published Domtila’s film on the poster campaign alongside an article on how Domtila and I became very good friends.

Following publication of Domtila’s film she was invited to the World Economic Forum at Davos to take part in The Big Debate on women’s and girls human rights including FGM.

Whilst in Davos she met the Director of UNFPA , Geneva , who has invited Domtila to speak at a global conference on FGM in Geneva to mark Feb 6th. International Zero Tolerance to FGM Day. This is such good news and hopefully means that we may at last receive recognition and funding! We are such a small grassroots organisation that it’s very hard to grow and a constant challenge is fund raising.

Our 5th Alternative Rite of Passage ceremony last December was another success with around 250 girls taking part in a week of seminars, workshops and training on the negative health consequences of FGM, the illegality of FGM and last but not least their own human rights to bodily integrity, education, freedom to chose their own path in life etc.. The week culminates in a big public ceremony where the girls perform drama, songs and dance.

This year we then took our ceremony on a road show to more remote villages on market day so as to take the anti FGM message to as many people as possible. We were received very well wherever we went especially with the drama and singing. Huge crowds gathered round almost immediately the performances began.

We are now aiming to reach out to the male population specifically. Although we have always tried to include men in our campaign, because FGM is rather a taboo subject and it is culturally inappropriate to discuss such issues openly in mixed company then it is felt some men have not yet received the necessary information to begin the process of change of mindset.

We are hosting a conference to mark World Zero Tolerance to FGM day on Feb.6th in Sigor, a remote village in West Pokot county where FGM practice remains rife. We have invited all the local Chiefs, their Assistants, Elders from every village and members of the wider community.

This year’s theme for World anti FGM day is “Mobilizing and involving Health Personnel in the fight against FGM”. We hope to have the Health and Culture Ministers attending and addressing the conference as well as young men, both educated and those young men who live a traditional pastoral life whereby they have not received formal education. I shall endeavour to include Domtila’s film in this post where a young so called warrior man speaks on camera about gaining new knowledge about the dangers of FGM. He has promised to speak at our conference!

Hoping for success in posting pictures and video clips from last year’s ceremony and roadshow.

thanks so much for taking time to read this post.

Cath Holland (founder)

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