“At this time, at the young age of thirteen years old, you’d be preparing to have a dangerous, cultural activity performed on you–circumcision. You’d be driven mercilessly by ruthless women towards the stream where your own mother celebrates that you’re moving on to the next level–womanhood. At the stream, that woman would glare at you, and force your legs wide apart as she rubs her greasy fingers over your clitoris. She passes the blunt blade across it, chops it off, and throws it in the stream. You’d be there excessively bleeding, crying, yelling, and screaming for help, but no one would seem to be moved by your pain.”
This is part of a moving speech made by Purity Christine in the promotional YouTube video for the app iCut. iCut is an app created by a group of Kenyan teens to help girls affected by FGM, or Female Genital Mutilation. FGM was made illegal in Kenya in 2011, but despite this, 1 in 5 girls still undergo the procedure, according to Unicef.
Students Ivy Akinyi, Macrine Akinyi, Cynthia Awuor, Stacy Adhiambo, and Purity Christine were given the opportunity to create iCut through Technovation. Every year, Technovation invites teams of girls from all over the world to learn and apply the skills needed to solve real-world problems through technology.
“Initially, Stacy and I decided to make an app that deals with plastic recycling. We later changed our minds and joined Purity who was working alone. Purity was on the verge of giving up, but our mentors encouraged her; putting emphasis on the fact that FGM is a big problem affecting girls worldwide, and that it is a problem we should be concerned about solving,” said Cynthia.
The Kenyan team dubbed themselves ‘The Restorers’ because they want to restore hope to the hopeless girls in their society. iCut will connect affected girls to legal and medical assistance, and the girls forced to undergo the treatment can alert authorities using a panic button installed within the app.
“The app is a good way of getting people to talk about FGM,” said Dorcas Adhiambo Owino, the group’s mentor and Kenya’s Technovation program leader. “It is a conversation starter that shows anyone can be involved in the fight against FGM.”
The Restorers beat nine Kenyan semi-finalists to secure a spot at the Technovation challenge this year, and from August 7-11, they will meet other finalist from all over the world, and compete for a chance to win $15,000 USD.
Through this competition, Technovation gives girls aged 10-18 the opportunity to work with women mentors to find a problem in their community, develop a mobile app, and launch a startup. The program has been running for eight years now, and has allowed over 15,000 girls to develop mobile apps and startups to solve problems around a diverse range of issues, including food, waste, nutrition, women’s safety, and much more.
iCut is an amazing idea that could potentially save many young girls from FGM. We are all rooting for the Restorers as they enter into the final stages of the Technovation competition happening now!
Featured Image by DFID – UK Department for International Development on Flickr
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
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