The buck stops here. Five teenage girls from Kenya, ages 15 to 17, are taking progressive steps to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in their country and throughout the world.
"What is FGM," you may ask. The non-medical procedure is considered a sort of rite of passage in Kenya. Part or all of the woman's external genitalia is removed during the process.
It is estimated that one in four women in Kenya have undergone the illegal procedure of FGM. Not even education has been able to slow down the stats since many view the process as a prerequisite to marriage.
Still, studies show that girls who have been cut are less likely to finish school, which makes their employment prospects decrease significantly. How can you discover all of your education potential when you're getting married and starting a family before your twenty-first birthday?
A steep decrease in academic and career opportunities, along with the possibility of death during proceedings, are why the teen makers behind the new i-Cut FGM app are doing more than just speaking out against the procedure.
The app was designed to stop illegal mutilation in its tracks. Girls who are being forced into the act by family members can use the new technology to send out a distress call, which alerts authorities who may be able to stop the process before it goes too far. Those survivors who have already been violated may also find the i-Cut app useful as well since they can find resources to help them cope with the intrusive process. All of this comes with the touch of a button. Imagine that!
A UNICEF report shows that more than 200 million women and girls worldwide have undergone family genital mutilation. Much of that 200 million comes from Africa, specifically Kenya.
"FGM is a big problem affecting girls worldwide and it is a problem we want to solve," Stacy Owino, one of the girls responsible for developing the i-Cut FGM app, says. "This whole experience will change our lives. Whether we win or not, our perspective of the world and the possibilities it has will change for the better."
Stacy and her crew call themselves "The Restorers" because of their mission to save girls' lives with their newest invention. The girls are the only African team whose app was accepted into this year's Technovation Challenge, which is sponsored by Google, Verizon Wireless, and the United Nations. Winners of the competition will receive a grant of $15,000 to help them further develop their projects.
Fingers crossed that the i-Cut FGM app takes home the prize!