Unleashing the Power of Gender Equality
Written by Larry Otaba – Population Media Center Kenya
PMC-Kenya celebrated World Population Day 2023 in Kehancha, Migori County in Western Kenya with a community dialogue and public forum. It was the perfect place to engage public discussion around this year’s theme: “Unleashing the Power of Gender Equality to Unlock Kenya’s Infinite Possibilities.”
The PMC-Kenya team, headed by Country Director Tom Kazungu, spearheaded this mini-campaign in collaboration with NCPD (National Council for Population and Development).
It was an opportunity to bring together community leaders, activists, police officials, the county commissioner, Radio Togotane (a community-based radio station), and members of the clergy. Local stakeholders from across Kenya came together to forge a way forward, realizing the power of gender equality for women and girls throughout the country.
empowering women & girls
Our mission at PMC is to use entertainment-education and mass media to promote social and cultural change by addressing the interconnected issues of the full rights of women and girls, population, and the environment. Our goals are to empower people to live healthier and more prosperous lives and to stabilize global population at a level at which people can live sustainably with the world’s renewable resources.
Building global sustainability for today and for tomorrow all begins with the rights of women and girls. The right to education, economic independence, and reproductive autonomy are the building blocks and must-haves for gender equality. Unfortunately, societies all around the world still hold women down in one way or another – keeping them from reaching their full potential. Flipping the script on these unfair dynamics is at the center of our work as we empower through entertainment and create a world that supports and celebrates the rights of women and girls.
Working to end female genital mutilation
One of the major challenges facing the Kuria Community in Kehancha is the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM ). The practice is entrenched in the social fabric and sadly leads to several outcomes. Our World Population Day Community Dialogues, featured in videos below, provided a space for open conversations, calls to action, and collaboration.
Population Media Center began working in Kenya in 2020 to support the work of UNFPA-UNICEF’s Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. As part of the project, PMC-Kenya launched two radio shows in Kenya, using its tried and true transformative storytelling approach.
Migori, the county where we gathered and the county where Kehancha is located, is one of the leading counties in the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya. This was one of the key communities for our broadcast Maisha Pakacha in partnership with UNFPA-UNICEF.
How do we unleash the power of gender equality?
First, we need to address the imbalance and violation of rights. We listen to, work with, and empower women and girls. This doesn’t mean we neglect boys; it simply means we need to focus on how these imbalances impact girls. Promoting female empowerment is a sure-fire way to improve global sustainability, but we can’t solve these problems if we have a narrow view of what “female empowerment” really is. We must tackle the systemic problems that prevent gender equality worldwide.
There are several schools of thought and it has been an ongoing fight. Some believe we need to scale it upwards or change strategy because we still have a distance to cover.
We need to look across the spectrum of our communities if we are to achieve real change: What are community leaders saying? What are the local, community-based organizations saying? What are the religious leaders saying? What are the girls saying? What are the women saying? What are the boys saying? What are the men saying?
Female GEnital Mutilation: an unnecessary harm
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision, poses profound dangers to the physical and emotional well-being of countless girls and women worldwide. This harmful practice involves the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia, leading to severe and lasting health complications. FGM can result in excruciating pain, severe bleeding, infections, and long-term consequences such as sexual dysfunction and complications during childbirth.
It is both a cause of harm and inequality, and it is also a result of harm and inequality. Recognizing and raising awareness about the dangers of FGM is crucial in the global effort to eradicate this harmful tradition and protect the rights and well-being of women and girls.
Changing behavior around the harmful practice must stop if we are to ensure the full rights and women and girls in Kenya and beyond. This isn’t the moment to waver.
INTERWOVEN CHALLENGES: women’s rights, population, and sustainability
At the beginning of our World Population Day event, Mr. Kazungu posed a thought-provoking question: How many among us recall a period when fruit trees lined the streets, available to all? As time passed, it became apparent that these once-abundant trees, offering both shade and fruits on a warm day, have become rare. What implications does this hold?
Today, our population grows while our tree count diminishes. With a declining tree cover, we become increasingly vulnerable to drought and other climatic issues. The excessive use of charcoal, sourced from felling trees for cooking and various activities, combined with the demands of a rising population, risks exhausting our natural resources. The challenges of overpopulation is intensifying in Kenya. The challenges of overpopulation is intensifying across the world.
Unfortunately, the repercussions of some of these decisions land squarely on girls who are forced to drop out of school to tend to household matters. Some parents tend to feel they can marry off their girls in exchange for some property or resource. To “prepare” and “ready” young child brides for potential suitors, practices like Female Genital Mutilation are enforced.
When these girls are wed, many drop out of school to start their own families. Being still young and often having limited or no education, the opportunities available to them are limited. Factors like culture or religion can make family planning a secondary concern. This creates a vicious cycle where families are malnourished, uneducated, or live in deplorable conditions because of scarcity of resources or lack of support to allow their families to truly flourish. Due to societal and peer influences, many men take on multiple wives, exacerbating household challenges. A prevalent stipulation is that the girl must have undergone FGM.
Insights from the community dialogue revealed that many reported cases of Female Genital Mutilation and Sexual & Gender-Based Violence can often be traced back to scarcity of resources. This is linked to increasing population growth.
Simply put, we have surpassed the planet’s sustainable capacity, leading to resource depletion. This resource depletion is negatively impacting girls across the world, and it is negatively impacting girls throughout Kenya. There has never been a more important time to work to advance the rights of women and girls in Kenya.
PMC Kenya Population Forum
For a sustainable planet with equality and justice for all, widespread education, behavioral change and information dissemination is essential, and that is where PMC comes in. Our team possesses the expertise to produce outstanding outcomes. Our methodology is distinctive, scientifically grounded, and has demonstrated effectiveness and accountability. We have the capability to penetrate regions that have historically been, or currently are, challenging for other mitigation methods. Having established our track record, we are open to collaborations with organizations that share our mission to address these challenges.
Let’s end FGM together. Let’s end violence against women and girls, together. Let’s create a more sustainable, equal and just planet for everyone and everything who calls Kenya home. Let’s get to work together to create a world where everyone can flourish. Building global sustainability for today and for tomorrow all begins with the rights of women and girls. The right to education, economic independence, and reproductive autonomy are the building blocks and must-haves for gender equality. Unfortunately, societies all around the world still hold women down in one way or another – keeping them from reaching their full potential. Flipping the script on these unfair dynamics is at the center of our work as we empower through entertainment and create a world that supports and celebrates the rights of women and girls.
If you want to flip the script with us, please connect with us at Population Media Center – Kenya today.