Protecting Girls from Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage
From 2005-2008 Aang Serian, the organisation that owns Noonkodin School, led a grassroots campaign against female genital mutilation and forced marriage in eight Maasai villages. This was led by Kenyan Maasai, and later by the villagers themselves – local people looking for local solutions.
They modified the traditional rites of passage – replacing the cutting with simple washing, while keeping the special clothes, feasting and dancing. Over 100 girls have already taken part in the modified ceremonies.
This attracted a huge influx of ‘refugee’ girls and young women to Noonkodin School, escaping from FGM, forced marriage, and/or domestic violence. Although some have since returned home, most of these brave girls are still continuing their education at Noonkodin or have graduated.
Almost all the girls have been reconciled with their families, so they are no longer at risk and can go home during vacations – but their parents are still unable to pay for their education. This means that the school has to provide them with full board and lodging, tuition, stationery, medical care when needed, and even basics like toothbrushes and soap. New sponsors are urgently needed.
Many of the girls are housed in temporary buildings, which school inspectors are currently threatening to close down. Please visit our Get involved page for details of how you can help as we urgently need proper dormitories.
Gender Equality Training
Gender equality is a very high priority at Noonkodin School. It is promoted through “Equal Wings”, a special programme for all Form 2 students (age 16+). Male and female students learn about gender stereotypes, non-violent relationships, and the benefits that men can gain from promoting women’s empowerment.
“Equal Wings” is based on the idea that humanity is like a bird with two wings, one representing men and the other women. Until they are equal in strength, the bird cannot fly. Thus, while women are oppressed, men can’t achieve their true potential – giving even the toughest Maasai warriors an incentive to take equality seriously!
A recent evaluation, conducted by a Masters student from London, showed that ‘Equal Wings’ makes a real difference, especially in the attitudes of boys and young men.