Girls and women in Kilifi are some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged people. 96% of the girls participating at MTG come from the nine Mijikenda tribes on the coast of Kenya. The Mijikenda ethnic community is patriarchal; men and boys have dominant roles and far more opportunities than women. Traditions such as payment of dowries for girls and young women pose a challenge to female empowerment.
The majority of parents are very poor and, instead of attending school, girls are asked to take care of their siblings and families. The majority has little or no education and poor knowledge of their rights, especially their sexual and reproductive rights. They lack skills and knowledge to negotiate safe sex, there is low availability of contraceptives, and those who fall pregnant may opt for an unsafe illegal abortion, or commit to a marriage whilst still seen as a child (under 18) in Kenyan law. Their opportunities for economic independence are severely limited due to their lack of education, which also makes them targets for radicalisation.