Culture is for man and man is not for culture. If culture in all its glory humiliates us and makes us less of human beings then it is not befitting.

This could have been the exact thoughts of Nice Nailantei Leng’ete who escaped her culture’s forceful ritualized female genital mutilation. The remarkable thing is that she did not escape and never come back instead, she is helping to ensure that young women who are placed in the same dead-end position that she was in prior to now are being saved from the dreaded practise.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. It is commonly practised in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It is usually initiated by elderly women in local communities, who see it as a source of honour, and who fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters cut will expose the girls to promiscuity and social exclusion. This practise gives rise to health consequences such as difficulty in urination, cyst development, fatal bleeding and infections.

Nice Nailantei Leng’ete, a 27-year-old anti-FGM activist from Oloitokitok, Kajiado South, Kenya may not be a super woman in a blue cape but she is certainly giving a message of hope to young Kenyan girls. With her job as a project officer in Amref Health Africa platform, she has saved an estimated 15,000 girls around Kenya from the cut, as well as from child marriage. She has also been named as TIME’s annual list of the world’s most influential people.

The courageous orphan who determined to gain formal education is currently reforming socio­cultural structures that continue to impede women’s lives and well-being. Nice was the first woman in her community to be given a ‘black talking stick’ by elders. And now she speaks on a global stage, using her voice to raise awareness about her work.

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