Did you know? Every year, approximately 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), a process which entails the partial or total removal of the external genitalia. Fortunately for females worldwide, the incidence of FGM is about to substantially decrease. This is because a group of five Kenyan teenagers, who refer to themselves as “The Restorers” developed an innovative cell phone app that seeks to halt the practice.
The app, known as i-Cut, is a program that allows young girls and teens to call for help, seek assistance and report abuse to reputable law enforcement organizations. With the touch of a button, a female is connected with the legal, medical and therapeutic counseling resources she requires.
According to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, the girls themselves are not at risk of undergoing the “rite of passage,” as their village has denounced the practice. However, they each know females who were forced to have their genitalia removed. Because FGM remains a tradition deeply embedded in the social structure of many African villages, The Restorers chose to develop the app.
For their efforts, the schoolgirls became the only African participants to be invited to the Technovation Challenge in Silicon Valley, California, which is sponsored by Google and the UN. The competition is for women who have employed technology to address problems in their community. If the girls win, their team could receive $15,000.
Said team member Stacy Owino: “FGM is a big problem affecting girls worldwide and it is a problem we want to solve. 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.”
One in four Kenyan girls will undergo the process, which is why the team’s contribution matters. “We just have to use this opportunity as a stepping stone to the next level,” said schoolgirl Ivy Akinyi, who has plans to become a computer programmer.
Image Credit: Nairobi News