Wasichana Salama

The over-arching purpose of this project is the primary prevention of FGM in Kenya. The project adopts the view that FGM is a public health as well as a human rights issue that fits well with the current thinking on primary prevention of violence against women and girls. The project aims to stop FGM before it occurs by identifying and challenging cultural and social norms that encourage violence on women and girls and promoting the alternative norms of safety, equality, and respectful and non-violent relationships.

The project is grounded on the social norms theory, an approach which has been applied widely in the US with significant successes in reducing some forms of violence and risky sexual behaviors. The project will focus on increasing protective factors for vulnerable girls by coordinating a social norms and advocacy campaign. The project will promote positive social and cultural norms that foster protective factors culminating in the creation of a social movement towards ending FGM.

The project will seek to overturn the current scenario where prevalence of risky behavior is usually over estimated while protective factors are normally underestimated. This is expected to result in the breaking of the culture of silence surrounding the practice of FGM and countering the social and cultural narratives that condone and support FGM. The project will increase the amount of information available on positive social norms by making positive appeals rather than focusing on negative consequences and attaching social stigma to the practice of FGM.

The project is set up at three ecological levels; schools, household and community. We have therefore adopted the Socio-Ecological Model (SEM) to reach in-school youth, teachers, parents, and the general public who will constitute our first-line of change-makers. The media will be engaged to raise the profile of FGM and to promote positive social norms among the general public.

There is a growing consensus and evidence base that violence against women is predictable and preventable, and there is growing interest in what works at the primary prevention level. This approach is an emerging area of interest internationally.

The project will be rolled out in Kajiado County in two (2) urban and two (2) rural communities picked based on predetermined (FGM related) indicators that will form the criteria for selection, and serve as the epicentre of the social change. Kajiado County has particularly been selected because of the rural-urban dichotomy, FGM prevalence levels, SOWED Kenya’s physical presence, community good-will and good working relationship with national and county government, and the growing network of SOWED Kenya’s partners. In addition, SOWED Kenya has the authority of the State Department of Education to work with schools on topical issues in the county valid for the duration of the project. We are also implementing a donor funded project to counter violent extremism in local schools which the project will leverage on. In 2014/15 we (together with LVCT Health) conducted and launched a formative, (qualitative & exploratory) study in Kajiado County on the types, forms and risk factors of child abuse, and the role of teachers and parents in the primary prevention of the same, which culminated in the design of interventions considered by this project.

Project Objectives

  1. Building Social-movement through recruitment of End FGM ambassadors.
  2. Strengthening the capacity of peace clubs to integrate End-FGM campaigns and increase protective factors for in-school girls by building safety nets to address End FGM in 4 public schools.