By the Amref activist Nice Leng'ete, one of the TIME's 100 Most Influential People in 2018, an inspirational story of one girl who changed the minds of her elders, reformed traditions from the inside, and is creating a better future for girls and women throughout Africa
An inspirational story of one girl who changed the minds of her elders, reformed traditions from the inside, and is creating a better future for girls and women throughout Africa
Born in a remote village in Kenya, Nice Leng'ete saw the young girls she grew up with receive the cut, the rite of passage into female adulthood in Masai culture. Every girl got the cut, and once you did, you'd be married off to a man triple your age. You might be his second or third wife. You'd have children in your teens.
This is exactly what happened to Nice's sister. To resist the cut meant becoming an outcast in Masai culture. Yet Nice managed to avoid it and stay in school. It was not an easy time. She was shunned. At the age of 21, Nice moved to Nairobi to work for Amref Health Africa, an organization spearheading the campaign against Female Genital Mutilation. Though she was still considered an outcast in her village - even an entapai (someone who brought shame to her family) - young girls began to look up to Nice. They saw the life they could have, not the one chosen for them.
Eventually, thanks to a combination of incredible instincts, excellent training and leading by example, Nice Leng'ete developed a platform for convincing women across Africa to forego the cut. First, she won over her village elders. It spread from there. Kenya outlawed the cut in 2011, and the Masai people abandoned it in 2014.
To date, Nice and Amref Health Africa have collaborated to help more than 16,000 girls avoid FGM in Kenya and Tanzania.
She's an amazing, amazing person
Nice has been battling since she was eight years old and, thanks to her courage and efforts, thousands of girls have managed to escape...an unjust and terrible fate
Nice was the first woman in her community to be given a black talking stick for elders. And now she speaks on a global stage, using her voice to raise awareness about her work. FGM and child marriage will end in Africa because of the likes of Nice