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My name is Rutto Kamama Kolem, a Nitasimama Imara (I will Stand Firm) champion from Baringo County, Tiaty Constituency. This is a remote part of Baringo bordering West Pokot County. In our area, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage are major concerns. The illiteracy level is at a disturbing 82% of the total constituency population. The young girls are married off in puberty while the young men drop out of school to pursue cattle rustling. 

Growing up in this environment, where FGM was seen as proof of marriage for a young lady, I believed a good woman is the one who has gone through this rite of passage. I never knew FGM and child marriage is illegal! I also did not know of the lifelong impact of FGM on the survivors. A girl child in my community is denied access to education and forced to undergo early marriage and FGM. 

Anti-FGM champion Rutto Kamama​​​​

Nitasimama Imara program opened my eyes to the plight of women and girls in my community and the country at large. It enforced my belief that they are equal human beings who deserve care, protection, and respect. I was able to understand the pain and challenges my own blood sister had to deal with as an FGM survivor. This pains me because due to my lack of knowledge, I could not protect her and her dream of having a good, healthy, and educated family. 

Through UNFA’s support, and training by Thriving Families Kenya, I became a Nitasimama Imara champion, and my knowledge on FGM, GBV, and positive social norms has increased. My confidence has improved and I am able to share factual information with my community on these matters. My public speaking has immensely improved too. 

Nitasimama Imara anti-FGM champion Rutto Kamama speaks to high school students
about the dangers of FGM. 

After the training, I developed an action plan and committed to reach out to my community through public forums and sensitize them on FGM, GBV, and child marriage and the need to change these negative social norms. As at end of December, barely 2 months after training, I was able to reach 500 girls in schools, 100 young mothers at a community level and over 1000 young men through community tournaments and churches and older men through barazas where I facilitate intergenerational dialogue on ending FGM and child marriage. 

After undergoing training through Nitasimama Imara, Rutto has been holding community sensitization events in his village
on eliminating FGM.

I am grateful for the empowerment and information I have received as a young man and I see my big role of protecting my family and women and girls in the community at large from harmful practices especially FGM and child marriage.  I fully understand my role as a gender equality champion and agent of change in transforming these negative social norms. I now appreciate that to end these retrogressive practices, I  must be involved as a young man in protecting women and girls in my community. 

Nitasimama Imara is an initiative that aims to empower young men and boys as champions of gender equality to end gender-based violence (GBV) and FGM. It is a project of Thriving Families Kenya with support from the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA.