Since our establishment in 1998, NAFGEM has been engaging communities and other stakeholders in the Kilimanjaro and Manyara regions to support female empowerment and the elimination of FGM through the following improvements:
• The issue of FGM is being tackled through culturally relevant sensitization and awareness campaigns. When NAFGEM began, discussing women’s issues and FGM was a cultural taboo in Tanzania. Campaigns involving all members of the community have started meaningful discussions about the elimination of the practice, and FGM is now freely discussed. NAFGEM has organized meetings, workshops, and trainings for various social groups including traditional, religious, and government leaders, women’s and men’s groups, teachers, school children, police, traditional birth attendants, health workers, and FGM practitioners. These sessions have created awareness and have encouraged community wide abandonment of the practice.
• Local community members have volunteered to monitor FGM activity in their villages. NAFGEM’s Village Animator project has mobilized 110 members in each of the eight target districts to monitor trends and propose possible interventions. Members have helped girls find safe places to stay during popular cutting periods while also reporting other instances of child abuse to the authorities.
• 1,560 FGM practitioners have been trained in alternative livelihood opportunities. NAFGEM has partnered with the District Medical Office to train FGM practitioners to become traditional birth attendants, providing them with the necessary resources to ensure safe and hygienic environments during deliveries. All of the practitioners involved have publicly denounced the practice.
• Girls have learned the truth about FGM. Girl’s camps were held in Rombo, Same, Hai and Simanjiro districts involving 800 students. Girls had the opportunity to learn and exchange information and opinions on FGM and strategies to prevent themselves from being subjected to the practice.
•Girls have vocalized their stand against FGM. School anti-FGM sensitization activities have empowered many girls to come forward and report harassment by parents or relatives to the authorities. In a campaign in the Siha District, 15 girls petitioned to the District Commissioner for protection against FGM, forced termination from school, and early marriage. The Commissioner has assured the girl’s safety and is committed to helping them continue their education.
•The organization has won community trust and acceptance in the areas of operation. As the issue of FGM has become widely recognized in communities, local and traditional leaders have invited NAFGEM to join with them in the fight against harmful traditional practices. Such partnerships have enabled leaders to speak against their traditions as they have NAFGEM’s support. In 2002, NAFGEM was invited to a rare meeting of the Maasai elders to lecture them on FGM and child marriage, encouraging them to deliberate on ending the practice.
•Women are building networks of empowerment and support. The establishment of women’s groups has given members the opportunity to discuss important issues. Members are able to learn from one another as they are inspired by each other’s achievements. Women have been able to realize their power to make positive changes for their families and communities by strengthening their voices to speak out against FGM, early marriages, and gender-based violence.
•Women have earned a sustainable source of income to ensure their children’s education. Young mothers working at NAFGEM’s Simanjiro center have used the profits gained from bracelet and soap making to pay for children’s school fees. The money has also been used to pay their daughters’ bus fare to safe locations during cutting season, home improvement projects, hygiene products, and basic need items.