In 2006 the rural Maasai population from Simanjiro district contacted NAFGEM to strengthen the campaign against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) in the region.
To answer this request, NAFGEM in collaboration with their local partner organisation ‘Mama Mwema Group’, is planning to campaign for three years in Kitwai, Terrat and Lobosiret, villages situated in the Simanjiro region. Altogether 10 villages are located in the region: Kitwai A and B, Londerkes, Terrat, Lobosoit, Sukuro, Laswak, Lobosiret, Emboret and Marakauo.
The dominant ethnic group are the Maasai, which account for 90 % of the population. 98% of the Maasai girls and women have or will have to undergo the practice of female genital mutilation. Other ethnic groups in the area are mainly immigrated Chagga or Pare. Agriculture and cattle breeding are the main activities of the local population.
The Manyara region stretches over 64 359 km². An estimated number of 1040461 people, of which 505896 are women, live there. Simanjiro has a population of 141676 of which 64 923 are women. Because no anti FGM campaign exists in the area yet, NAFGEM wants to implant itself in the Manyara region.
In this traditionally very conservative community, girls between the age 6 and 18 years old are being circumcised whereas the present general trend is to circumcise the girls as babies. Circumcision in this area consists in the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora. The belief is that women who are circumcised are safer in promiscuity and know better how to master their sexual impulses.
Some girls bleed to death or die as a consequence of secondary infections. Often, circumcised women suffer lifelong pains, keloids, problems at childbirth, chronic infections and mental diseases. The rate of complications during childbirth is three times higher with circumcised women than with others.
- To inform the people of the Manyara region of the harms ans consequences of FGM
- To curb attempts to practice FGM and all other forms of violence against women
- To convince circumcisers to give up their practice
Aims of our project:
- Information and education of the whole population on the consequences of FGM for women and girls.
- Campaigns to convince the population to protect the physical inviolability of girls in order to avoid physical harms.
- Closer collaboration with the government, the public health authorities and the police in order to sanction all future attempts to exercise circumcisions.
- Raise awareness through involving and respecting cultural aspects, which play a major role in the practice.
- Education of multipliers to insure sustainability and to broaden the project strategy.
- Improving the legal and social status of women.
The target groups of our project are not only the girls as individuals, who are to be spared from enduring, circumcision but the whole community in the Manyara region. Our aim is to improve gender relations through information and awareness rising. Traditional aspects, that play a vital role in the issue, are to be taken into account. Ethnic particularities and the social status of the persons concerned will be considered for in the planning of every single workshop.
Instruments to reach our goals:
- Establishing contact with political leaders in the district as well as in the villages:
regular workshops with ethnic leaders, sub leaders, village chiefs as well as religious and political leaders will take place. They will receive specific information, will be involved into the campaign and won for our cause. Since 1998 a law against FGM exists in Tanzania but has hardly any effect as even the police is hardly informed about FGM and does not know when to intervene. This is why the police forces, local administration and legal authorities are integrated in NAFGEM's awareness raising workshops. This will help gain their support in the fight against FGM.
- Raising the awareness of the key groups in Manyara region:
39 activities with different groups take place in several villages in the project area. Activities include information about consequences of FGM, presentation of aims and activities of the projects, selecting first multipliers.
- Some of the project activities are:
- Awareness raising seminars at village level
- Monitoring at village level of members of Mama Mwema women group
- Planning and information workshops for political district councils
- Planning and information workshops for opinion leaders and key persons
- Sensitisation workshops on district level for Maasai elders and -leaders
- Identification and training of circumcisers
- Feedback and Evaluation seminars with opinion leaders and key persons
- 15 minute radio programs:
Radio programs are an important and credible way of information for the local population. They are planned, recorded and transmitted once a week by the local radio station ‘Sauti ya Injili Moshi’. Often this is the only source of information and entertainment for the villages’ people. There is at least one radio in the village centre around witch the population gathers, mostly in the evening. The program gives information about consequences and physical harm caused by FGM as well as about the law against FGM and all other relevant issues in the context.
- Theatre plays with local actors:
In approx. 12 annual events, plays against circumcision are performed in schools and community centres.
- Video project in Kiswahili:
The illiteracy rate of the rural Maasai population is extremely high. It can be argued that video recordings are an effective instrument to convey information to the illiterates. Therefore NAFGEM activities, such as for example interviews with circumcised women or ceremonies where circumcisers lay down their knives and swear to never circumcise again, are recorded. The theatre performances are also recorded. The footage is then used as educative material for the villages, schools, seminars and workshops.
- Providing micro credits to initiate income-producing activities for ex-circumcisers in cooperation with SACCOs:
Since 2000 Nafgem is working together with SACCOs (Savings- and Credit Associations). SACCOs is an independent association which provides micro credits to help people establish new means of living as e.g. with retail trade, handcraft etc. The association was initiated by the development department of the Tanzanian government. NAFGEM’s activity in this is to connect women with SACCOs which then provides the credits for these selected women. This enables them to make and sell pottery, to become retailers or small-scale entrepreneurs. The loans they receive only have to be paid back after their business becomes successful.
- Official meetings with village chiefs, women groups and ex-circumcisers:
At official events which are held as ceremonies, the ex-circumcisers swear to lay down their knives and to never practice FGM again. Thanks to the traditional ceremony before ethnic leaders, political representatives and NAFGEM, it is guaranteed that the ex-circumciser won’t practice again. Such a ceremony is much more effective than a signed contract. In celebratory events the integrity of the girls which are not being circumcised anymore is celebrated with alternative passage rites, which lead them to their new status as women.
- Capacity Building for especially active women in the villages as multipliers:
To guarantee the sustainability of the initiated projects, enabled women, women groups as well as health department workers, teacher and ex-circumcisers are involved in the project work. They receive training before participating in the sensitisation programs. This is how members of the Mama Mwema women group joined NAFGEM and now, instructed by NAFGEM, lead awareness raising campaigns. These groups, or individuals, receive special training for anti-FGM work. Because the women are from the area and belong to the same ethnic group, they can easily win the trust of the community. This ensures the sustainability of the project and the continuation of activities through the multipliers even after the official project comes to an end.
- Purchase of sensitisation materials:
Brochures, posters, video player, video- and audio tapes.
Sustainability is guaranteed through the (non financial) support of the government - especially of the president Kikwete-, the health department, women groups, churches and schools who all back NAFGEM in its work, facilitate access to institutions and help to create a network.
Project partner in Tanzania
NAFGEM Network Against Female Genital Mutilation in Tansania
P.O. Box 6413 Moshi, Tansania
NAFGEM has stood the test in sensitizing the peoples. Ex-circumcisers have become traditional birth attendants, pottery makers and small-scale entrepreneurs. Through NAFGEM’s work the rate of FGM carried out in Kilimanjaro region declined clearly.
Click here for the homepage of the radio station in Moshi that launches awareness raising campaigns for NAFGEM: "Sauti ya Injili" ("sound of the gospel").