An energetic woman whose laughter brings life to the room, Jane is the first wife of Mr. Parkeruwa and a mother of five daughters. She is a parent from one of the Jielimishe GEC supported schools and hails from a nomadic community that inhabits the western part of Laikipia west. Like many nomadic communities in Kenya this community is still trailing behind in its appreciation of education let alone education for girls.
The community has over time safeguarded its cultural believes and practices some of which are retrogressive and oppressive upon women. A huge percentage of the young women growing up in this community are under pressure to undergo FGM so that they can be accepted, respected and blessed as members of the community. FGM is regarded sacred as God Given among this community thus making many young women want to undergo the practice. It is the primary Rite of Passage for women.
Young Girls from as young as 8years who undergo the cut are regarded as women and are earmarked and prepared for marriage, majority are married off within a few months after the cut. This then translates to dropping out of school of these girls who should be supported to stay in school and learn. It’s safe then to conclude that FGM is a huge contributor to poor progression rates for girls from primary school to secondary school and to tertiary level
However the story is different for Jane’s daughters. Jane made a vow that none of her daughters will undergo the cut. She has been successful in protecting her daughters and keeping them in school. Two of them are currently in boarding secondary school while one is in Kimanjo primary school boarding facility. She explains that keeping a girl in boarding school increases her chances of finishing school because she not only stays clear of the pressure to undergo the cut but also gets to interact with other girls who have not, giving them a sense of normalcy. Through education her daughters shall be able to make informed choices regarding their health and life in general; they shall be productive members of the society and a driving force of change in a community that greatly needs it.
Jane is not only engrossed in educating her daughters; she is closely working with Jielimishe GEC as a community facilitator to sensitize the community on the importance of education. Through the training she has received from Jielimishe and the constant motivation from the project team she is using every opportunity she gets to train and sensitize fellow women on the importance of educating their daughters even in the event that their husbands are opposed to the idea. She speaks openly against FGM and sometimes she is repaid with hostility. However she seems unperturbed by the negative energy, she has chosen to model how education can increase the life chances of girls as well as improving the quality of life the girls lead! The community needs more women like her, and she is intentionally molding her daughters to be like that.