First Lady Margaret Kenyatta launches beads trade initiative in fight against FGM

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First Lady Margaret Kenyatta being received by CS for Sports, Amina Mohamed, chair of Ushanga Kenya Hellen Nkaissery and UNFPA Country Representative Ademola Olajide at KICC on December 6, 2021. [David Gichuru, Standard]

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta today launched beads initiative in an effort to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The First Lady said designing and production of Johari beaded products will earn women and girls local and international markets and ultimately support the national drive to end FGM.

Johari Beads initiative is a joint programme of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Anti-FGM Board, Ecobank and Ushanga Kenya with a specific agenda to raise awareness on anti-FGM fight and to give financial support to women and girls.

“Johari beads Initiative will brand and market Kenyan beads produced by communities that are working towards the abandonment of FGM,” the First Lady said during the launch that brought together more than 200 women bead-makers from seven FGM hotspot counties.

“Through this programme communities will be able to generate sustainable income, promote women’s empowerment, and accelerate efforts to end FGM.”

Ushanga initiative is being implemented in Kajiado, Marsabit, Narok, Baringo, West Pokot, Samburu and Turkana counties which have had numerous cases of FGM.

Johari Beads project is intended to contribute to the overall goal to elimination FGM in Kenya by 2022 by commercialisation of the beads as a cherished cultural identity.

Since the launch of Ushanga Kenya Initiative in 2020, at least 5500 women have benefited from beadwork training so as to make products that meet international market standards. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta committed to end FGM by 2022.

The chair of Ushanga Kenya Initiative Hellen Nkaiserry said the economic model have not only uplifted women in the pastoralist communities but amplified their voices in the community.

“This platform of bead-making has helped communities share the national cake through government funding. It has transformed the lives of women,” she said.

But the anti-FGM ambassador said the drive has also faced resistance in some communities.

“Some people are stubborn about the fight against FGM because they think we are taking away the culture by getting rid of the harmful practices,” said Nkaiserry.

The official said they’ll move to patent Johari products as they upscale production to meet the international demand.

UNFPA representative to Kenya Ademola Olajide praised the government for its achievements in the fight against FGM, adding that the mission is to make Kenya a model country in the successful fight against retrogressive cultural practices.

Other leaders who attended the event were governors Samuel Tunai (Narok), Joseph Ole Lenku (Kajiado) , Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), deputy governors and MPs.  

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