Five young women, known as Team Restorers, work to bring an end to FGM
Stacy (17), Cynthia (17), Ivy (16), Purity (16), and Macrine (16) members of Team Restorers, developed an app to support girls at risk of, or who have experienced, FGM
iCut connects victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) with medical and legal assistance, and offers features to keep them safe, including a panic button that alerts local authorities if girls feel threatened. iCut was developed by five 15-17 year-old girls in Kenya, where some communities still record high rates of the illegal procedure. Together Ivy, Cynthia, Purity, Stacy, and Macrine use technology for good, fighting for a safer, healthier life for girls and women.
The exact number of girls and women around the world who have undergone FGM remains unknown, but at least 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries. While the popularity of the practice has declined in the last 30 years in Kenya, UNICEF estimates that 1 in every 5 girls still undergoes the procedure, despite a majority of people thinking the practice should end. Where it is still practiced, FGM is performed in line with tradition and social norms and is deeply rooted, so UNICEF and other agencies work with government and local partners to eliminate the practice through education empowerment programs alongside other interventions. iCut is a local, youth-driven piece of that larger solution.
Restoring hope: youth-led change
The Restorers developed iCut as their project for Technovation Girls in 2017, and were global finalists. Since then, they have continued to share and work on the app, and were recently nominated for the 2019 Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament.
Personal experience inspired the girls to create the app – while their Luo community does not practice FGM, some of their friends have undergone the procedure. Purity described a classmate who had undergone FGM, explaining “we were very close but after she was cut she never came back to school…she was among the smartest girls I knew.” Although motivated by witnessing the effects of FGM, a spirit of optimism and hope also drives the girls, inspiring their team name as well – “we want to restore hope to the hopeless girls in the society”, Cynthia explains.
For Ivy, Cynthia, Purity, Stacy, and Macrine, inaction was not an option. In the face of a complicate global issue, they chose to act and support girls and women around the world. iCut is one piece of a larger solution to ending FGM, and it’s an important one. What problems feel immense but worth trying to solve to you? What questions can you start asking? What problem will you solve?
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