Members of the Mothers’ Union around the Diocese of Leicester are coming together to tackle gender-based violence, and have united with our link diocese in Kiteto, Tanzania to raise money to protect young girls from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
As part of a wider United Nations 16 Days of Activism campaign, which runs until 10 December, women up and down the diocese will be holding fundraising events and gatherings to raise awareness of the devastating subject and generate funds specifically for a project run by the Mothers’ Union in Kiteto.
Kate Cooper, member of the Rothley MU branch, is hosting a Gin and Crumble evening at her home to encourage donations towards the project and has extended the invitation to school mums and other women in her church community.
She says: “As Christians we are all called to act to aid and show compassion towards each other. As MU members sometimes this is done by a personal touch, caring for a neighbour, or making knitted items to keep vulnerable women warm during the winter. At other times this is by prayerful support and financial aid that we send to fund projects in far distant areas of this world, such as the FGM awareness campaign that is being run by MU in Kiteto, Tanzania.”
MU President, Ezereda Chambala, and her husband, Bishop Isaiah Chambala, are uniquely positioned to be able to effect change in their local Maasai community, where a large proportion of young girls are subjected to FGM. The aim of their project is to educate and raise awareness of the problems caused by FGM, using posters, videos and dramas, reaching out to households, villages and districts.
Ezereda says: “Efforts to change harmful traditional practices require the co-operation and understanding of community leaders, policymakers, and the people who have experienced the hardships this practice causes. Elders and young males must be persuaded to accept changes to their culture and norms.”
In a recent update, Bishop Isaiah Chambala said Ezereda is working tirelessly on the FGM project, with very limited resources. He added: “So far, they are training MU leaders at the archdeaconry level in the diocese, trying to give them the capacity to train others. The campaign is slowly moving forwards, but it is painful to see these beautiful little girls tortured. Thank you so much for your concern.”
There have already been some very generous donations made by individual MU members around the diocese, with other branches planning events and taking collections at their forthcoming meetings.
Kate says: “This campaign has really struck a chord with me personally as it such an unnecessary and barbaric act, often carried out against young girls. I have two daughters myself and I cannot imagine even considering putting them through something like this. How strong and deep-rooted then is the fear that drives the women in the tribe to allow their daughters to endure this procedure?”
She continues: “It is an uncomfortable topic for many of us but as we join the fight against the injustice faced by these girls, we need to overcome our discomfort and instead only consider what we are able to do to end their pain.
“I believe that it’s time for us to act; to pray for protection for our little sisters in Tanzania and send whatever we can to support the team in MU Kiteto.”
Ezereda has written a poem, capturing the pain and anguish, and their call to action.
Bishop Isaiah Chambala and Ezereda, when they visited the Diocese of Leicester.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured, or changed, without any medical reason for doing so. It is usually carried out on girls up to the age of 15.It is estimated more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to the practice, with three million more each year at risk of FGM.The reasons why FGM is performed have changed over time and vary from one region to another. There is often social pressure behind it, as well as beliefs about how a girl should be prepared for adulthood and marriage.
It can be a traumatic as well as harmful procedure. Besides the pain of the procedure itself, it can cause immediate and long-term health problems, including infection, increased complications during childbirth and psychological problems.