In Maasai Kenya, 80% of girls continue to undergo female genital mutilation at puberty, after which they enter an arranged marriage and drop out of school. Information about their rights and health is unavailable or distorted, and these topics are considered taboo. Kakenya's Dream is educating and empowering girls to become their own advocates for their rights and health. At weekend and weeklong camps, girls learn life skills and receive vital health, rights, and sexual education.
Maasai girls are regularly married at the age of 12 after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), considered a rite of passage into adulthood. The practice can lead to complications such as obstetric fistula and even death. With child marriage comes the expectation that girls will permanently leave school. Although Kakenya's Dream has had success in empowering students at our schools, girls outside the KCE community are without empowerment tools for leadership and health education.
More than academic opportunity is necessary to equip vulnerable girls to overcome the challenges they face in attending and succeeding in school. They also need training in life skills, including sexual and reproductive health, leadership qualities, and an understanding of their legal rights. Our unique training program is designed to empower adolescents by providing critical information at a time when they are at risk of undergoing FGM and being forced into an early marriage.
The trainings have reached over 12,000 students to date, and we are now piloting a new delivery method that will allow our curriculum to be delivered as an after-school club at schools throughout the region. As we reach more and more girls, schools, and communities, girls' wellbeing will increase, their rights will be protected, and they will achieve higher levels of education. This, in turn, will uplift entire communities.