Implementing the anti-Female Genital Mutilation project: outputs, insights, moving forward


Rolando Jr Villamero, MSM Executive Education Alumnus

In August 2018, MSM published the news item “MSM alumnus receives grant for project on harmful cultural practices and disability in Kenya”. In this news item I shared how my participation in the executive Project Management and Project Finance program allowed my friend Esmael and me to secure a financial grant for a project to explore the link between disability and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya.

In the light of the UN International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the results of our project so far.

Project outputs to date
Five months later, our project remains in the implementation phase, however two critical outputs have been achieved in this span of time. First is our strengthened partnership with Kenya’s Anti-FGM Board. The Board is mandated by the Kenyan government to lead the fight against FGM across the country; hence, working with them in implementing our project is critical. Second is the development of accessible formats of Kenya’s Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act. Through the guidance of the Anti-FGM Board as well as disability experts, our project has transformed the Act into formats accessible to persons with disabilities, namely: braille, audio, easy to read, and large print. The formats were officially launched on 4 February 2019 during the National End FGM Conference in Narok County, Kenya by the:

  • Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Public Service, Youth, and Gender Affairs: Prof. Margaret Kobia 

  • Permanent Secretary of Department of Gender : Hon. Safina Kwekwe 

  • Member of the Parliament representing persons with disabilities: Hon. David Sankok

  • Narok County Women Representative and Member of National Assembly: Hon. Soipan Tuya 

  • Acting CEO of National Gender and Equality Commission 

These formats will be used to train a cohort of persons with disabilities to become advocates and allies in the fight against FGM. The project is funded through the Jeanne Sauve Foundation's Fellows Collaboration Fund.

Rolando Jr. and Esmael have formally turned over the accessible formats of the Act to the members of the Anti-FGM Board

Learning insights from project implementation to date
Reflecting on what I have learned from implementing our project so far, I remember one of the topics we discussed during my course at MSM. Our lead trainer Mirjana Stanisic stressed the importance of flexibility and adaptability in implementing a project. This implies that in reality, a project may be faced with delays in implementation due to some contextual factors. In our case, we were faced with the tension between efficiency and ownership. Due to the fact that we will have to finish the project in a time frame of 12 months in total, Esmael and I intend to strictly adhere to the time frame of implementing the activities. However, we continue to recognize that the government should be engaged in what we do in order to sustain our project moving forward. Hence, since the start of our project implementation, the Anti-FGM Board has been working with us. The process may tend to get slower but government ownership is critical.

Next steps of project implementation
Moving forward, the project will focus on organizing series of capacity building workshops engaging persons with disabilities. These workshops aim at educating the sector about FGM as well as their rights to reject the harmful cultural practice. It is then aimed that through these workshops, a cohort of persons with disabilities actively engaging themselves in the fight against FGM.