Community workshops bring permanent positive social change through coordination and consensus

Widespread and permanent renouncement of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage comes about through a process of positive social change. Community workshops focus on driving this process.

They engage all groups of a community in discussion and debate, and drive the discussion of uncomfortable topics directly related to the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage. They focus on shifting the social norms that sustain the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage, and establishing new social norms. Finally, they enable communities to reach a collective decision to stop these practices, and make a public and explicit commitment to them.

At Coins for Change, we believe that solutions led by the community are more likely to be effective and have lasting social impact. Social norms change definitively when a community sees the benefit of changing, and not when they are punished for not doing so. Therein lies the power of the community workshops!

We have used them to raise awareness about Kenyan laws banning female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage and the negative implications of these practices, to generate acceptance of alternative non-FGM rites of passage, and to foster understanding of the enormous value of educating Maasai girls and allowing them to learn life skills and/or pursue a career. We are now scaling up our efforts and need your help!

Female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage are illegal in Kenya 

In 2014, Kenya passed a Marriage Law making it illegal for girls to be married before the age of 18. Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been illegal for young girls since 2002, when the Children's Act came into force.

Many male Maasai chiefs, however, have refused to stop these traditional practices and have not informed women and girls about the new laws protecting their rights. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a rite of passage that marks a Maasai girl’s transition to womanhood and her readiness to marry, regardless of age. The culture of FGM and early marriage is so ingrained in the Maasai that it leaves little room for external influence and makes it difficult to introduce and accomplish social change. Unless women and girls are informed about the new laws by their Maasai chiefs, they are unlikely to learn about their rights. Maasai villages are spread out over too large an area, and most speak only Maa, a language that has no written form.

A 12 year old Maasai child bride

In 2010, Mary Kahingo became the first Maasai women chief in all of Kenya. She has successfully taught a number of Maasai girls and women about their new rights and has conducted several alternative rite of passage ceremonies. The alternative rite of passage ceremony allows young girls to transition to womanhood without going through FGM.

Become a part of something bigger!

Community workshops have a demonstrated ability to generate the necessary consensus and coordination amongst the Maasai to bring about permanent positive social change and establish new social norms that are collectively and explicitly accepted.

We are now scaling up these efforts and putting the necessary resources in place to have a broader impact. Help us!

100% of every dollar generated online goes directly into our programs to help rescue Maasai girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage.