The Female Rights Challenge
The Female Rights Challenge concerned the rights for girls and women in Kisii, rural Kenya to decide whether or not to be circumcised. The outcome was the stepping stone for the Women Empowerment Challenge that was executed one year later in the same area.
The 7Senses Challenge is an intensive 12-week program for students, post-graduates and professionals. In a multi-disciplinary, international team they perform Participatory Action Research in the field to boost community empowerment while at the same time work on their own personal and professional development.
|Challenge name||Female Rights Challenge|
|Start date||January 11th 2016|
|Number of participants||1|
|Number of local researchers||2|
Each Challenge design starts from a community issue, addressed by its problem owners at location. As such, we make sure the Challenge is based on local demand rather than donor demand. Together with these local stakeholders, we design the Challenge in a way that fits the local context, from the problem framing up to methodology and concept definitions.
Looking at the gap between law and practice/reality on female circumcision.
- To determine whether the practice of female circumcision declined or is still prevalent and intact as it used to be in traditional times.
- To establish whether the law sustained this decline.
The Challenge seeks to find out whether and how the local stakeholders think female circumcision affects them.
- Has female circumcision declined or is it still prevalent?
- Does the law have any influence on the practice?
- Are the stakeholders aware of its implications to the law and health. Do these implications discourage this practice?
Village maps, Interviews, observation, focus groups, public meetings
- Culture, traditions, practices, behaviour, norms and values of a group of people
- Right-something that everyone should have; the ability for people (women) to have their freedom without interference
- Female circumcision definition
- Law – rules in society usually serving the interests of the powerful; set of rules created and imposed by the government
- Health – feeling well, not being hindered by your physical condition; physical and mental well-being
- Inflict; impose
- Women empowerment – women have the right to say what they want; give women a voice.
Each Challenge delivers direct outcomes for the local community on the addressed issue: we can share how many people have been reached, what their perspective is on the current and desired situation and what final Community Action Plan (CAP) they have co-created and implemented. In a later stage, local stakeholders will evaluate the impact of the CAP.
The Challenge created a momentum ensured by the stakeholders in the community and thereby giving visibility to a sensitive issue. The stakeholders started a dialogue and collective decision-making in support of finding resolutions for the practice. The community members gained knowledge about the FGM Act, a law that was enacted to eliminate the practice, and the consequences of violating that law. While the community knew that there was a law, none of the stakeholders, including the leaders knew the details of the Act. They just knew that the government had banned female circumcision and that if they were caught practicing it, they would go to jail. Different stakeholders came together in a focus group and discussed at length the pros and cons of female circumcision and how the community can work together to overcome the practice. While some of the women we interviewed and held focus group meeting with acknowledged that the practice should be eliminated, they stated that they were more interested in enhancing themselves economically, something they felt would impact their lives more directly than overcoming female circumcision. The findings indicated that the three organizations we approached (YWCA, Vinbel Foundation and Fulda Mosocho Project) worked with the community through educating them on the consequences of the female circumcision, but they worked in isolation, even though they did similar work. We introduced the stakeholders from the organizations in an effort to get them to work together.
The findings showed that female circumcision was still being practiced despite the fact that there are laws that have banned the practice. Others said they were following culture. Participants stated that doctors were accepting money from people in the community to perform the procedure and the administrative leaders (chiefs and assistant chiefs) were not making necessary arrests because they accepted money from the people performing the practice instead.
We anticipated that the community would state whether they want to overcome the practice and if so, how they can go about it. We also hoped that the doctors and leaders would be stopped from encouraging the practice by accepting payments.
During one of the focus group meetings, we discussed at length the pros and cons of the practice as well as the different ways that have been used and can be used to overcome the practice. The participants agreed that the pros and cons of the practice should be weighted, and the community should then be informed accordingly. The information should also be given in Kisii, the local language, because some of the people who practice female circumcision are not educated, and do not understand English or Swahili, the national languages spoken in Kenya. The chief of Mosocho discussed the work of Fulda Mosocho Project in his area, and stated that he would be willing to work with the rest of the community. The participants agreed to get information from the chief. The participants also agreed that doctors and nurses should be stopped from performing the practice.
The impact of this Challenge has not been measured yet. As soon as we have results of the impact measurement, it will be presented here.
Coordinator & Action Researcher
Francis Maina Gathemia
Lydia Nyambura Mukami
Sustainable Development Goals
Each Challenge delivers one or more reports. Read here all detailed information on the PAR methodology and outcomes of this Challenge.Download Challenge Report Download Thesis 1 Download Thesis 2