Learn about one of the grassroots organizations working in the remote communities in Kenya to end female genital mutilation.
Tell us about you/your organization
Mahnaz M. Harrison is the founding President and CEO of Last Mile4D (LM4D), a 501c (3) Washington, DC based non-profit that advocates
for and raises awareness about women’s and girls’ rights to health and safety from abuse. Last Mile4D operates its programs in some of the remotest corners of the globe, known as “last mile” communities. By collaborating with local and regional stakeholders, LM4D has moved health projects from the pilot phase to implementation, with an emphasis on sustainable impact. The organization’s signature project employs community-design protocols toward eradicating FGM with local partners in Kenya. Using VPack technology and in-time intervention, LM4D has saved girls in Kuria, Kenya from the scourge of FGM.
How is your organization working to end female genital mutilation in the United States?
While we don’t directly target FGM in the United States, we target the root cause of this syndrome, meaning addressing it “up the food chain’ in the homelands of immigrant communities settling in the U.S. We have targeted the broader communities that practice FGM, using Awareness Building, Law Enforcement, Cultural Adaption, bundled together with VPack Technology, which generates evidence-based results that are affecting change and moving toward eradicating the scurrilous practice of FGM in Kuria, Kenya.
What are the challenges and opportunities in trying to end female genital mutilation?
FGM is a silent crime, taking place in the darkness of cultures where speaking about it is a cultural taboo. This means FGM is a crime with no witnesses or evidence. Another challenge is that a dearth of reliable data has skewed the resources toward eradication of FGM. This has given governments the wiggle room to escape accountability on enforcing the laws they themselves have passed to stop FGM. Last Mile4D has developed a secure online platform that collects data and provides data analytics in real-time to identify the girls at-risk of FGM. This gives LM4D the opportunity to intervene on their behalf and rescue girls when needed. We now have an opportunity to scale the program to reach beyond our pilot phase and cover broader swaths of Kenya and beyond.
How is the network helping you to achieve these goals and why is it important to be in the network?
We hope to gain increased visibility through the network and be considered a resource for other network members. We currently use the resources on the network to inform our approach.
We can end female genital mutilation in the United States because we are committed to reach the SDG 5.3, where every girl has a chance to live safely and reach their optimal capacity as an equal member of society.
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