News Release

Interfaith Collaboration for Action on Gender-Based Violence Held at Church Building in Kenya 

Three Muslim high schools for girls presented dramatic presentations condemning FGM and many speakers also contributed insight and calls to action.

On 12 August 2023, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints signed a Memorandum of Understanding to participate as a member of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK).  The Church’s first opportunity to assist and participate with IRCK quickly presented itself.  Africa Central Area President, Elder Ian Ardern, upon learning that the IRCK lacked, and needed, a facility to host an event calling for action against gender based violence, offered the Church’s Upper Hill Stake Center.  The IRCK gratefully accepted the invitation and on 9 September 2023 held The Anti FGM Drama Festival for Muslim Girls Schools in Nairobi at the Upper Hill Stake Center.    

Participating in the event were the Embassy of Switzerland, which was the lead financial sponsor, many churches, the 3 presenting Muslim girls high schools, the US Embassy, members of the media, and other community members.  The theme of the festival was “Interfaith Collaboration for Action on Gender-Based Violence.” The three participating high schools presented stage plays, poems, choral verse, spoken word, Somali cultural dance, and public speaking that created awareness against FGM.

According to a report released by The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), approximately 30 nations in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa practice female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM). Over 200 million women and girls alive today are thought to have undergone FGM globally. UNFPA lists 28 of the 30 countries where FGM is most prevalent as being African.

In the five East African and horn of Africa nations investigated, FGM is common among girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49. Rates of FGM are highest in Somalia and Ethiopia, with lower, put still concerning rates of FGM in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. There are some areas inside countries where the prevalence is higher than average, particularly in the border regions of Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The festival’s purpose was to raise awareness and caution against FGM. Among those that attended the event include, H.E Ambassador Mohamed Ahmed (Somaliland Ambassador to Kenya), Abdirahman Ismail OGW (Executive Director, Inter-Religious Council of Kenya), Reverend Father Joseph Mutie (Coptic Orthodox Church and Chair of IRCK), Dennis Mukasa (Nairobi South Stake President), Marion Ebener (Embassy of Switzerland), Claire Thomas (Political Officer, United States Embassy in Kenya),  Mary Magubo (Kenya Department of Health and Medical Services), Mustafa Genc (Executive Director, Harmony Institute), Phoebe Makungu (Kenya Strategy Department, Gender), Victor Okonga (Coordinator, Joint Initiative for Strategic Religious Action), Reverend Josephine Kambua (Greater Grace Church), Bilquees J. Ingrid (Mentor), Abich Basim (Principal, Marhab Girls School), Peter Okemwa (English and Literature Teacher and Drama Coach, Marhab Girls School), Elder Archer, Sister Archer and Elie Kalala (Communication Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Mary Ndulili, Abjul Majid and Rosemary Wangui (IRCK).

Throughout the event, multiple mentions were made of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its kindness in providing the Upper Hill Building for the event. IRCK Executive Director Ismail made the following comment in his opening remarks, “Thank you to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for being our friend and enabling us to use this beautiful facility. I feel at home here.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is committed to promoting interfaith harmony and fostering mutual respect among people of all faiths. The Africa Central Area Presidency led by Elder Ian S. Ardern, in addition to providing the facility for and hosts for the event also ensured that our Muslim brothers and sisters had prayer rooms reserved and ready for their Salah (prayers).

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