First Lady Rachel Ruto has decried the resurgence of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriages.
Speaking at the Kenya Highland University during the International Day for the Girl Child on Wednesday, Mrs Ruto emphasised the need for immediate intervention, noting FGM and early marriages stand at 15 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
“The resurgence of female genital mutilation is an outdated practice which local communities, law enforcement and courts must deal with firmly,” she said.
Mrs Ruto also spoke against gender-based violence, saying over 3,762 cases were reported last year, with the majority affecting women and girls.
“A culture of tolerance for violence against women and girls at the community level perpetuates gender-based violence,” she said.
Expressing concern about the rising HIV infection rate among women and girls, now at 70 per cent, she noted that the Ministry of Health data indicates that 98 girls aged between 10 and 19 were infected with the virus weekly during January and February last year.
- 'Healthier women lead to stronger societies'
- Seven First Ladies join hands in fight against FGM as Kuria community vow to end vice
- Gender equality is about power relations and dynamics, CS Aisha Jumwa says
- How behavioural transformation tool is helping fight bias
The theme of the event, organised by 14 counties under the Lake Region Economic Bloc, was “End the triple threat: New HIV Infection, Adolescent Pregnancies, Sexual and Gender Violence.”
Rachel shared data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2022, revealing that 40 per cent of girls aged 10 to 19 with no education had been pregnant at least twice.
In contrast, only five per cent of girls in the same age group with more than secondary school education had experienced pregnancy at least once.
She also said that lack of funds to purchase sanitary products leads to girls missing school, resulting in up to six weeks of lost academic time.
The First Lady called on county assemblies to legislate the allocation of resources to combat the triple threats. “We must all come together to launch a spirited campaign that highlights the negative impact of teenage pregnancies, gender-based violence and HIV/Aids among our young people,” he said.
Kericho Governor Erick Mutai called for an end to the Sondu violence, while his Kisumu counterpart, Anyang’ Nyong’o, asked the government to respect and finance devolution.