In Tanzania many groups have and are still campaigning against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC). The reigning Miss Tanzania, Diana Edward feels indebted to join the fight since she narrowly escaped the cut herself, having grown up among the very traditional Maasai communities who strongly believe in this ritual.
This harmful practice does not seem to go away. The victories that have been achieved over the years of educating societies against the cut, empowering girls to say no and convincing traditional leaders to stop it have not covered as much ground as activists wish for.
On her Facebook page, the Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu (MP) admits that, “FGM is still problem in our country.” According to the recent data from the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2015, 10% of women in Tanzania have undergone FGM with leading regions in prevalence being Manyara (58%), Dodoma (47%) and Arusha (41%).
The numbers are daunting! But there is still hope as it is reported that while “one in every ten Tanzanian women has been cut, knowledge of FGC increases steadily with women’s level of education, from 71% of women with no education to 97% of women with secondary or higher education.” Interestingly 95% of women have been reported to hold a belief that the cut is an unnecessary ritual which is not even a religious requirement.
Adding her efforts to the momentum, Miss Tanzania launched a campaign called ‘Drop the razor blade’ working among Maasai communities, using her familiarity with the surroundings and traditions to tactfully campaign for the end of the practice. As she said in an interview with the BBC,
I am one of them it is easier for them to trust me. When I am out there I dress just like them and participate in their daily activities.
The government encourages such initiatives. Minister Ummy Mwalimu said,
This practice is unacceptable. Let us work together to end FGC in Tanzania. It is possible to completely eradicate it even before 2030 if everyone of us will participate in this ‘war.