My name is Domtila Chesang and I come from West Pokot County, Kenya. I am an anti-Female Genital Mutilation Activist. I cofounded a community based organisation which is aimed at eradicating the practice by creating awareness on the effects of the practice. My project involves holding workshops and trainings to sensitize the community to stop the practice. We deal mostly with adolescents girls between the ages of 10-17 as this is the age they are most at risk of being cut. We also create and provide safe spaces where girls can stay and be safe.

When I was 11  I witnessed my older cousin being cut. The pain and suffering that I saw during this period forced me to flee home and seek refuge in a boarding school. I knew there was no way I was going to wait and have my genitals hacked. Rebelling a practice that was being carried out by almost everyone then wasn’t easy. In a way I had to find way of influencing my friends to stand with me. This is how I slowly became a campaigner starting at a very early age. When I went to college my sister was cut and this is when I realized I had to do more to protect other girls from the same.

I heard about Akili Dada from a mutual friend but I had also previously come across the organisation on Facebook and had liked it. Before I applied for the fellowship I had been a big fun of them, I admire a space which is just for women which means we can freely and genuinely talk and tackle issues affecting us in our societies. When the call for applications was opened I knew I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. Akili Dada give girls/women like myself the power and skills to change things in their communities. The networking between young women from different communities and countries is very powerful, it is what we need to do in the world of today. This in itself gives motivation and encouragement. I therefore applied for it because I wanted to be part of a family of people with like minds.

In terms of the SDG’s, my project addresses Gender Equality. Female Genital Mutilation is an extreme form of gender based violence. My project seek to address and eradicate it. Its abuse against women’s rights, over their bodies and feelings. We empower women and the society to understand that women are humans too therefore they deserve respect.

Outside of work, I love shopping, I am crazy about shoes and I never stop because I never have enough Australia. I am on a continental tour, I believe. I live in Africa, I have been to Europe, America and my next stop need be Australia. They also say there are so many scary creatures like snakes in Australia and I don’t want to believe it until I see it. But again I have a feeling that they also have better shoes there.

On 29th June 2017, Domtila received the Queen’s Young Leaders 2017 Award from Her Majesty the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace in recognition for the work she is doing to stop female genital mutilation and early forced marriages in West Pokot, Kenya.

Watch the clip 7.50)