Five female Kenyan students have emerged winners of the Daily Trust African of the Year Award for 2018. They were selected among several other innovators for developing a mobile application, “I-cut” which connects Kenyan girls at the risk of circumcision to rescue centres. It also gives legal and medical assistance to those that have been affected by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The group of five girls, all between 16-18 years of age is made up of Cynthia Otieno, Purity Achieng, Mascrine Atieno, Ivy Akinyi from Kisumu Girls High School and Stacy Owino from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat). The group is titled “Restorers” which was adopted because they want to “restore hope to hopeless girls.” They partner with various non-governmental organisations in their mission to eradicate FGM.

The application which has similarities with “Petals”, an anti-FGM application developed by Coventry University in the United Kingdom has specific features that help those at risk to communicate and get relevant help from people in the country. There is a call button, text in-app, an informative blog for the public, a get feedback rescue button, and a donate feature which allows various organisations, companies and individual well-wishers to help run the rescue centres by delivering donations in various forms.

Although FGM is illegal in Africa, it is still very rampant. There has been a lot of campaign to completely eradicate the barbaric act in Africa. Waris Dirie, 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize laureate is an anti-FGM activist who is creating awareness throughout the world about the tragic practice which has been practised for thousands of years. The innovation of this mobile application is an incentive to curb such acts, it has become a very useful tool in the war against FGM.

The African of the Year Award was initiated in 2008 by Daily Trust to recognise and reward annually an exemplary African who has made an extraordinary contribution to human development in any part of the continent. The girls would be awarded in Abuja, Nigeria next week with a sum of Sh2.5 million.

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