Expert Meeting on FGM/C in Kenya

December 1, 2017

In November 2017, I was a couple of days in Nairobi for an expert meeting on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). I was invited by Gerry Mackie, who is a well-known associate professor of political science at the University of California (UCSD) in the United States. He specializes in the study of harmful practices, including FGM, using ideas from game theory. I met Gerry a couple of years ago in Senegal (when I lived there for four months for my PhD research). I had studied his work in-depth, and we had interesting discussions about the social convention theory in the Senegalese context. I also invited him for the conference that I organized at the Residence of the Netherlands Embassy in Dakar, in which he participated. We exchanged our ideas and views on how to change social norms and we kept in touch.

Evidence to End FGM/C

I was very honored when I received the following invitation: “Given your experience and work in this area, we would like to invite you to participate in, and present at, a strategic consultative meeting that will be taking place on November 23rd and 24th in Nairobi, Kenya at the Fairview Hotel. We hope you can join us in contributing to this important initiative.”

The expert meeting was entitled “Evidence to End FGM/C” and had the aim to discuss the methodology of a large-scale study to investigate when and how laws are effective in reducing the practice of FGM/C in three contrasting countries – Burkina Faso, Kenya and Egypt. The study seeks to understand the relative role of social, legal and moral norms as mechanisms that regulate a family’s compliance or non-conformity with the law in general and for specific behaviors. The evidence generated from this work will inform lawmakers and policymakers on whether, and which, types of legal or policy interventions would be appropriate in which situations.

The study is part of the Population Council’s Evidence to end FGM/C Research Programme as part of DFID’s flagship programme Towards Ending FGM/C in Africa and Beyond. The FGM/C Research Programme aims to generate high quality evidence to influence strategic investments, policy and programming to end FGM/C. The programme is a South-North consortium managed in and working throughout sub-Saharan Africa in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, and Sudan.

During the expert meeting, I presented my work and gave my feedback on the methodology developed. As I had recently been in Burkina Faso to conduct interviews for a study for UNFPA, I also shared my experiences in that regard and gave my advise on how to proceed with the study.

I absolutely enjoyed those days in Kenya, as I met very distinguished scholars from all over the world. I felt so lucky!