The Women of Pokot ministry was started three years ago with a mission to educate, empower, and reclaim the Pokot women’s identity and worth as a beloved and valued child of God. We began with a goal of empowering two women’s groups to have sustainable businesses to generate income for their families.
We are ecstatic to report that both groups have profitable sewing and beading businesses, strong leadership, and have qualified to receive a substantial business loan from the government! They own goats and chickens to feed their families. Many also have side businesses selling honey, tea, and renting guest huts. The best part is that they also unite together as a team to spiritually and emotionally support one another and others in the community.
Now that we have seen the success of economic empowerment, we are tackling a bigger challenge: eliminating the brutal, centuries old practice done to Pokot girls. Women in the Pokot, along with 130 million women in Africa and around the world, live with the consequences of a ritual called Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), otherwise known as female circumcision or “cutting” of the female organ.
This rite of passage is performed on Pokot girls 9-18 years old as a preparation for adulthood and marriage, which is typically arranged by the family to a much older man who could be three to even four times her age. Pokot fathers receive a hefty dowry for their child brides in the form of animals, usually cattle, which culturally is a great sign of wealth.
The physical effects of FGM are devastating. Many girls will die during or after the ceremony due to infections or bleeding, and many more are left with serious medical problems and difficulties birthing children.
The abusive practice of FGM limits the value of girls to merely a source of wealth and has continued for decades, though it has been deemed as a punishable crime against humanity around the globe and in Kenya. As you can imagine, it’s not just their bodies being left wounded and broken, this also breaks their spirits and their opportunities to live out their God-given purpose.
However, we have hope and good reason to believe we can shift this detrimental practice. This ministry has been blessed with a faith-filled and talented Kenyan leader, Rebecca Chebet, from Pokot Outreach Ministries (POM) who is bringing truth and enlightenment to the Pokot through our Anti-FGM awareness campaign. Becky is pictured above with girls that sought refuge from FGM.
Becky and her team began this campaign in August 2012 to debunk the FGM myths and impart facts about its physical, spiritual, emotional, and legal impacts. It is grounded in biblical principles and a rights and values based approach from the United Nations, who also has declared ending FGM a top priority around the globe.
- 7,000 Pokot community members and influencers educated on the negative spiritual and physical impact of FGM
- 50 community leaders trained to advocate for girls against FGM and early childhood marriage
- Hosting rallies attended by thousands of Pokot observing UN’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM
- Launching of the first ever “Alternative Rite of Passage” for empowered Pokot girls that say NO to FGM
To learn more or join the empowerment movement, visit www.womenofpokot.com.