At 12 years old, Mary underwent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She was taught that she would never marry if she did not have the practice done. FIDA Kenya helped Mary to learn the harms of FGM and taught her that women and girls have rights.
"I went through FGM when I was 12 years old. I used to advocate for FGM as I was taught if a girl does not go through the practice, she would not get married. After FGM, you were seen as a woman and were to be married off. My own 18-year-old daughter did not go through the procedure and I have not seen any of the behaviours we were told would happen.
A friend told me about FIDA Kenya three years ago. She informed me that FIDA teach others about women’s rights and she took me to learn about them. During the training, they gave me books and films to watch, which taught me the truths of FGM and I learnt that I had rights.
That is why I’m sharing my message to all, so that other women and girls may know their own rights. Because many women still do not know their rights, they are beaten and hurt by their husbands and they do not tell others because they think it is normal. Women are also afraid they might be chased away by their husbands and have their children taken away – we were taught that children belong to the husband.
FGM is still practised a lot by the Maasai people, but we are trying to change that from what we have learnt by working with FIDA. From that, many people have learnt and have changed their ways and will not practice FGM, even the older ladies who used to practice FGM have changed.
Mary is now an ambassador within her community, working with FIDA to educate others on the myths and harms of FGM and ensuring women and girls know that they have rights.