NAIROBI, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan community elders and religious leaders across the country resolved on Friday to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country by 2022.
The leaders who made the commitment during a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta in Nairobi committed to collaborate and work with both the national and county governments and other stakeholders in creating awareness within their communities on the need to promote education and the wellbeing of the girl child.
"We appreciate the efforts of the government of Kenya to end Female Genital Mutilation through creating and implementing progressive policies and legislative frameworks and programs towards its eradication," they said in a joint declaration issued by the presidency.
The declaration by the opinion leaders drawn from 22 counties, most affected by FGM, is in support of the declaration by Kenyatta to end the illegal practice in the country by 2022.
Kenyatta thanked the elders and religious leaders for agreeing to lead the onslaught against the retrogressive practice and assured them of the government's backing.
He said FGM is an archaic cultural practice that assaults the wellbeing of individuals and society and pitched for its complete eradication.
"FGM is a retrogressive practice whose continued existence in our country in actual fact assaults our individual and our national consciousness. The practice is inimical to our shared fundamental values as enshrined in our very own constitution that we as Kenyans passed," Kenyatta said.
He called on Kenyans to shun destructive practices like FGM and embrace progressive cultural activities that bestow the honour and dignity of women and girls.
"Just like everything else, a time comes when one gets exposed to newer ways of life. It is time therefore for all of us to discard retrogressive cultures for the benefit of the nation," Kenyatta said.
He tasked government officials in the line ministries of gender, education, health and public administration to take the lead in championing government efforts aimed to end FGM in all parts of the country.
"If you get any government official either the chief or assistant chief who supports this retrogressive culture, inform relevant offices and they will be dealt with firmly," warned Kenyatta.
He cautioned cross-border communities that escape to neighboring countries to undertake FGM, saying he is in talks with his colleagues, regional Heads of State, to ensure that offenders are dealt with even in those jurisdictions.
UNFPA Country Representative Ademola Olajide said FGM is one of the initial violations of the rights of women and girls.