Understanding Culture
Protecting Human Rights
A. Obaid

UNFPA Executive Director
Gender Equity Human Rights

Sierra Leone

Laying the groundwork

Starting off right
Rights-Based Approach
Involve Community
Targeting men
Entry points
Legislative Action
Local organizations
Power structures
Personal involment
Values vc. Practice
Bulding in sustainability
Caring for the individual
Gaining support through advocacy
The Projects

Separate the values underlying a harmful practice from the practice itself
Traditional practices serve specific functions in a community. When a practice is eliminated, for whatever reason, there can be an erosion of cultural values and identity associated with it. This, in turn, creates insecurity within a community. Yet it is also possible to devise alternative practices that serve the same functions but without causing harm. In many countries, including Kenya, female genital mutilation/cutting is the culmination of a traditional initiation rite that provides instruction on how to conduct oneself in womanhood. Alternative rites of passage, developed by a Kenyan NGO, respect the value of the tradition, and offer the same instruction, while rejecting the violence associated with it. Older Maasai women volunteer to act as godmothers to girls who are coming of age. Over the course of five days, z and in seclusion, the girls are encouraged to ask questions about sexual and reproductive health and are empowered to make informed decisions about their lives. They are also taught what their community expects of them as adults. The NGO believes the teachings are important and should continuewithout the mutilation.

We appreciate the significance of some of our traditions, and we included these in the programme.

Founder, Tasaru Rescue Centre, Kenya


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