Turkana girls join initiative to tackle early marriages

Girls from Turkana who have joined the Kenya Girl Guide Association popularising their movement through sponsored cleaning exercise in Lodwar town.

Photo credit: Sammy Lutta | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  •  Girls in Turkana County have established a platform that they will use to address early marriages and alcohol abuse.
  • Unicef study reveals that 102 in every 1,000 women in Turkana had given birth by the age of 19.
  • The girls have joined Kenya Girl Guide Association, which will give them a chance to become beacons of nurturing integrity and championing social values.

More than 200 girls in Turkana County have established a platform that they will use to address early marriages and alcohol abuse that thrive in the area.

Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey by Unicef, a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide, revealed that 32 per cent of Turkana women aged between 20 and 49 were married before 18. It further says 14 per cent of 15-19-years-olds are married, while almost 10 per cent of girls were married before they turned 15.

The same survey reveals that 102 in every 1,000 women in Turkana had given birth by the age of 19.

Unicef also found out that the prestige of traditional marriage across all contexts, makes it a deeply embedded practice, making it an urgent child protection issue that needs to be addressed.

The girls between the ages of 18 and 24 years have joined Kenya Girl Guide Association (KGGA), one of the largest organizations in Kenya for girls and young women, which will give them a chance to become beacons of nurturing integrity and championing social values.

Abigael Napeyok said they have always lacked knowledge and information to handle common vices.

"Through the platform, we will be free to share our experiences and probable solutions on handling the problems. For the girls who have challenges with accessing sanitary towels, we have been trained on how to mobilize resources for a common goal," Ms Napeyok said.

Wisdom and mentorship

Ruth Emanikor, an advocate of the High Court, said the girls lacked a common platform to voice their concerns, pointing out that the KGGA movement will be critical in instilling ethics to girls and young women so that they become solid vehicles of wisdom and mentorship.

"The movement will, through training and financial support, equip girls with skills to look into their issues at an early age, especially issues around menstrual hygiene," Ms Emanikor said.

Joyce Kariuki, Kenya Girl Guide Association's Manager in charge of Programmes and Training said they link girls to likeminded organizations to empower them.

Ms Kariuki said they had established that it was practice for girls below the age of 18 to have children or be married off in Turkana.

"We are coming to give them skills and create awareness on critical information and knowledge on how to make better decisions and through them, we also reach out to others in the vast county.

“Our work will also be to identify their potential and grow it so that they can become responsible citizens to influence their community positively," she said.




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