THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will next month carry-out massive campaign to intensify efforts to address Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Ngorongoro District within the Maasai community.
The UN agency will conduct the campaign in collaboration with the Ngorongoro District Council and the Council of Maasai traditional leaders.
Zulmira Rodrigues, head of UNESCO in Tanzania said in a statement that the exercise will be held during the FGM high season of June, 2017 when girls go home from school and parents take the opportunity to circumcise them.
According to her, the campaign, which is expected to reach around 70,000 people, has kicked-off with a 2-day orientation workshop in Wasso on 29 and 30 May 2017.
The workshop will bring together 65 campaigners and facilitators composed by district and ward officials, Maasai spiritual and Maasai leaders to guide them on how best to deliver key messages to the targeted populations well as organise for sheltering girls in need.
She said that in the Maasai community, the practice of female genital mutilation is deeply rooted in cultural practices and customary beliefs, part of the ritual passing from childhood to adulthood.
According to district health statistics, in 2015, 90% (1,375) of the 1693 Maasai women who gave birth at health facilities were circumcised.
The Tanzania demographic and health survey 2015/16 indicates that Arusha ranks third nationally on the regions where FGM is practised, with 41 per cent prevalence, right after Manyara and Dodoma regions.
Since 2015, UNESCO has been collaborating with government and traditional leaders in Ngorongoro District to strengthen the capacities of community-based structures to address sexual and reproductive health related issues including FGM and early marriage, facing girls and young women, as well as promoting girls education with a particular focus on school retention.
Using the socio-cultural approach, UNESCO’s initiatives has gained community support and achieved notable impact including change of mind-set of some traditional leaders and more than 30 Ngaribas who are now strong advocates against the practice.
Rodrigues said that the campaign starts on the 1st June 2017 and will last for one month and will cover 29 villages and 28 schools within the Loliondo Division in Ngorongoro District.