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Becoming Maasai Women: Stop FGM and Empower the Women

Maasai Girls dance to celebrate the Alternative Rite of Passage.

As co-founder of Africa Schools of Kenya (ASK), I'm thrilled to announce that our initial goal to raise $18,000 to assure all Maasai girls in Esiteti Kenya complete an Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) rather than Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been reached. But the work is far more extensive.

As important and in order to assure that this ARP program continues and spreads throughout Maasailand, an additional $15,000 is needed to provide Life Skills and Leadership workshops for the women and mothers. For generations, these women have been marginalized. They need to find their voice and claim leadership to expand the Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) throughout Maasailand.

Already, neighboring tribes are asking for help. Through the Alternative Rite and the Life Skills workshops , the women who were "cutters" will discover new ways to support themselves and their families. The ARP program will be sustainable as these women attend the workshops, support the change and expand the ARP.

As part of a “coming of age” ceremony, the Maasai tribe, as a whole, still practice the age-old ritual of “cutting” girls at puberty, signifying a girl’s transition from girlhood to adulthood. Three times a year, girls come home from boarding schools and are at-risk of being circumcised, married off, and preventing them from continuing their education.

Through ASK, we have been safeguarding the health and dignity of pubescent Maasai girls by designing an alternative to the ritual of female genital cutting. In 2012, we were approached by the Maasai elders stating that although the traditional “coming of age” ceremony was mandatory in their culture, they wanted to stop FGM and keep their girls in school. The Alternative Rite of Passage program (ARP) was initiated with no genital cutting in August 2012 when 52 girls completed it and stayed in school rather than being married off.

Since 2007, we have promoted an on-going Student Scholarship Program for girls at the Esiteti School. Maasai elders are now recognizing the value of educated women, both as wives and as members of the Maasai community. The funding of Leadership and Life Skills workshops for the Maasai women will assure that the ARP continues and expands throughout Maasailand.

You can help by visiting our new Crowdrise campaign at http://www.crowdrise.com/EmpowerMaasaiWomen until June 4, 2013, 2013. We have been invited to participate in the Raise for Women Challenge where an additional $75,000 will be split among the winning organizations. Help us win so we can eradicate FGM in Kenya and beyond. Help by spreading the word and staying active on our Facebook page. Thanks!

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Maasai women support the ARP for their girls and leadership and life skills workshops for themselves..

Comments

mroozen's picture

Thank you!

Teri, Welcome to World Pulse! I'm sure you'll find that this is a great community for you to continue to network and spread the word about your organization. Thank you for the work you're doing and welcome to the community!

Pushpa Achanta's picture

Lovely

Dear Teri,

I admire your courageous and vital initiatives. Thanks for the beautiful pictures in this story.

May you keep inspiring and informing through your words and work!

Love,
Pushpa

boughnea's picture

Great work!

It's great to read stories of success and to hear where impacts are being made. Great work and keep it up!! Keep sharing success stories too, it's energizing!

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