22 Jul 2014

Investing in Girls: The Story of Millicent.

By Catherine Nyambura

Girls should not get an education, employment opportunities or a chance at a better life because they are lucky. Their rights should not be respected because one has no option. Girls should not be seen as an opportunity for their families to get money, pay off their debt or to be used as backup for their financial gambling. 

Millicent
Every  girl child all over the world should be assured of equal opportunities to get an education. Specifically, this education should include information on their human rights and how to grow up in a patriarchal world.  Whenever girls turn their heads, there is always someone at each corner of their life reminding them of how “lucky” they are to be getting an education and not to be married and have children at 15 years or to have escaped FGM. When describing achievements by girls and young women, the word lucky is used loosely.

All is not lost as evidenced by the story of a girl who has been “lucky “and is generous enough to share her “luck”.

Millicent Naiserian is a 16year old Maasai girl from Kenya. Bright, she attends a national school -Nakuru Girls, in Nakuru Kenya. Millicent is a participant in Dandelion Kenya’s I Choose, My Life program which is a comprehensive sexuality education program. The program trains young girls on personal development, gender, health and sexuality with a special focus on HIV. It also includes communication and leadership skills, and this is what Millicent embodies- a leader. Millicent is in boarding school, spending almost 9 months a year in school, but during her school holidays she packs her bags goes to her mother’s house. There she spends a few days and proceeds to her “workshop”.

Her workshop is her grandmother’s home in the rural parts of Narok where she conducts her trainings. She gathers girls aged 6-15 years and trains them on personal hygiene, adolescence and the dangers of FGM. Her mission does not stop there she has created a safe space for the girls such that they can trust her whenever their families declares the FGM and early marriage war on them. This way she has been able to save more than 15 girls from FGM and early marriage. Her parents and grandmother are also supportive and they have worked with local authorities to rescue the girls, enable them to pursue an education and get a chance at a better life.

FGM and early marriage in Kenya is rampant during school holidays and that is why Millicent’s work is iconic. In April Kenya lost a girl to FGM, the questions begs, why aren't we outraged?

I can’t celebrate Millicent enough.

We shouldn't have girls like Millicent because they are” lucky”, but because we make a deliberate choice to invest in girls, prioritize their lives and  their future .African  governments should put in place a sound political and legal infrastructure that secures the place of girls in society because luck shouldn't have anything to do with it.