Naomi is one of 33 girls we supported with scholarships in 2019 (Photo: Amref Health Africa).
Like many girls in Kajiado, Naomi’s family did not want her to finish school and instead planned to have her undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and eventually marry her off. Now, Naomi is a role model for girls in her community. Through training with Amref, Naomi inspires girls in her village to refuse to undergo FGM. “Amref enabled me to go to school because my parents value our traditions and were not keen on educating girls,” Naomi says.
Low school enrollment rates for girls
According to the Kenyan Ministry of Education, the school enrollment rates of girls in Kajiado County is only 18%.
Why are enrollment rates so low for girls in the county? Girls in Kajiado County are at risk to facing the harmful cultural practice of FGM which signals that a girl is ready to be married off, no matter how young she may be. Girls typically undergo FGM between the ages of 8 and 15 years old. FGM is often followed with child marriage and teenage pregnancy, which forces girls to drop out of school – ending their chances to complete their education and follow their dreams.
Girls Scholarship Program
To protect girls in Kajiado County and help them achieve their goals in life, we created a scholarship program to send those at risk to FGM and child marriage to secondary school and provide them with training to become anti-FGM ambassadors in their communities. Most of the girls supported by the scholarship come from households that cannot afford the secondary school fees. Traditionally girls are seen as an economic opportunity for the family, as they receive a dowry or payment when marrying their daughters off. This has forced many families to choose FGM for their daughters.
Launched in 2018, the scholarship program has supported 49 girls with quality education they otherwise could not afford. In addition to covering the tuition, room and board, and school supplies of each student, the program offers leadership skills training to further empower each student.
Through the scholarship program, we can break this cycle for girls in Kajiado County and help them become the women they want to be.