(Photo: Amref Health Africa)
This 27-Year-Old Is Fighting Against Female Genital Mutilation In Kenya
When she was only eight years old, Nice Nailantei Leng’ete and her sister ran away from home at 4 AM and hid in a tree to escape ritualised female genital mutilation. She and her sister received lots of punishment and beatings for trying to avoid the ritual. Eventually, her sister gave up and got the cut - for Nice to escape it. The next day she went to her grandfather, a Maasai elder, and convinced him that the cut was not a necessity. He listened, and allowed Nice to continue going to school.
Nice Nailantei Leng’ete then decided that it was not enough to just save herself, she had to fight for others too. She fought to get an education so that she could help change the socio-cultural structures that continue to effectively oppress women and female well-being.
At 27, she has spent the entirety of her adult life working to negotiate with elders in villages and rural communities across Kenya to convince them that alternative coming-of-age ceremonies will be healthier for girls and better for communities, and her work as a project officer with Amref Health Africa has saved an estimated 15,000 girls in Kenya and Tanzania from the cut, as well as from child marriage.
She's deservedly on the 2018 TIME 100 list of the world's most influential people, because she's an extraordinary example of what changes can be wrought when girls - especially African girls - stand up for themselves. She's been catapulted to a global stage, and her voice can only get louder. Because of Nice and many people like her, female genital mutilation and child marriage are obstacles that we will well overcome.
Nice is the only Kenyan to be named in the list.
By Olanrewaju Eweniyi, published on 26/04/2018