When school clubs become the tool to curb early marriages, FGM

21Apr 2021
The Guardian
When school clubs become the tool to curb early marriages, FGM

​​​​​​​ELKIDING'A is one of the secondary schools in Arusha Region that has established students clubs that helped to address female genital mutilation (FGM), early pregnancies and child marriages. These harmful traditional practices have been hindering Maasai girls from achieving their-

The centre for women and children development (CWCD) Hindu Mbwego with beneficiaries of their school club interventions.

-dreams of acquiring education.

John  Mduma is one of the patrons of the club at the Elkiding'a Secondary School says through the clubs, the girls are enabled to become self-aware, value themselves, and protect themselves and others.

“Girls who are members of such clubs have inspired other girls. If they learn that one of their peers is being harassed, abused or hurt they normally report such incidences to teachers, local government leaders or village leaders or in places of worship,” he says.

Mduma says that the school was fortunate to get the Center for Women and Children Development (CWCD) project with funding from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS). The project is implementing a girl protection intervention in Arusha Region.

According to Mduma, school clubs build courage and confidence for the girl child, whereby some of the  girls who belong to the 30 member-club say that they have benefitted a lot from the club.

“I would advise that such clubs are established in every school, especially among the Maasai communities, so that girls can be taught how to defend, protect themselves and others from practices that cause girls to drop out of school,” says Happy Loishiye, a Form III student at Elkiding'a Secondary School.

Mwalimu Emmy Matee, who is also the club’s patron, says the club has greatly helped girls at the school become courageous and confident. The clubs have increased confidence among students in reporting gender-based violence to their teachers and parents for immediate help.

CWCD work with school clubs to create a conducive environment that enables students to foster relationships with their teachers for mentorship and coaching. The approach has made students more open to their teachers on issues affecting their wellbeing at home, allowing immediate intervention in case of mistreatment which in return improves performance at school.

He observes that it is more encouraging to see that the girls at the school perform very well in their studies and that it shows that the girl child if her safety is assured, has a greater potential for performing well.

The clubs also teach the girls vegetable gardening, liquid soap processing to prepare them for self-employment after completing school. This will enable them to be self-reliant.

On challenges that the club faces, Mwalimu Emmy says sometimes parents or guardians insist on FGM or child marriages while teachers want to help and save the girls. These parents think that the teachers are interfering with their cultural beliefs and their affairs.

Hindu Mbwego, the CWCD Director, is of the opinion that the project is a success as it has greatly reduced GBV cases, formed student clubs that help girls and is working closely with LGAs to ensure girls safety.  The Local government has joined hands with the Non-Government Organizations collaborating with CWCD to abolish oppressive cultural practices against girl children.

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