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The Girl Summit- A Pivotal Moment

Ending FGM in this generation is a must

The Girl Summit- A Pivotal Moment

On July 22, activists, community leaders, civil society organizations (CSOs), governments, and international organizations all converge on London for Girl Summit2014. To discuss how to end two of the most pressing human rights violations of our time: child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) and female genital mutilation (FGM).

After months of planning, endless discussions, workshops and meetings with DFID Senior Managers like Jane Miller and Jane Hobson. The day finally came for the world to say no to FGM and child marriage.

Opening the Girl Summitat the Walworth Academy with my speech, I knew then as a FGM survivor and campaigner, we have reached a pivotal moment. A milestone that will transform the lives of girls around the world expose to the dangers of female genital mutilation and child early force marriage.

Hearing my fellow speaker, Farwa, a member…

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It’s Time to Build Bridges to End Female Genital Mutilation!

Girls' Globe

photo2 Part of the panel, with the advertisement in the background saying, “The Clitoris is a Gift”

Today at the International Confederation of Midwives Congress in Prague, I had the great opportunity to attend a session featuring inspirational leaders who are actively combating female genital mutilation (FGM).

Comfort Momoh, MBE, Middlesex University, moderated the session and opened by informing the audience of what female genital mutilation is.

FGM is the partial or total removal of female genitalia and is a violation of human rights.

FGM is practiced in 28-30 countries in Africa, but also in other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and parts of Iraq. FGM is also a phenomenon present in Europe and North America. Comfort Momoh explained that in the United Kingdom, it is estimated that about 66 thousand women have undergone FGM and that 22 thousand girls under the age of 15 are at risk for FGM.

It was quick

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A Day Like no Other – International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.

Ending FGM in this generation is a must

A Day like No Other – By Alimatu Dimonekene (Anti FGM Campaigner and Community Activist ProjectACEi)

Blog photoFor most women and girls, their wedding night or giving birth to a baby should be the most happiest and joyous occasion of their lives. But, for many women and girls around the world who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM) those days are marred in anguish, fear and sometimes death. In most instances, a girl born into a FGM affected community has a sanction. She will inevitable undergo three painful stages of her life; circumcision, night of her wedding and giving birth. FGM often occurs on or around the puberty stage leaving many girls scarred for life. For some women, not all, sexual intercourse comes with many complications and therefore not a pleasurable experience. Child birth equally devastating experience combined with mental anguish. In almost all instances, women and girls are left with…

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Efua Dorkenoo: The Woman Who Never Stopped

Girls' Globe

Efua Dorkenoo at TEDxUCLWomen, 6th December 2013. Photo: Upi Sandhu Efua Dorkenoo at TEDxUCLWomen, 6th December 2013. Photo: Upi Sandhu

I remember the first time I heard about the legendary Efua Dorkenoo. It was 2007 and I was 9 years old, sitting in my back garden in Lagos, Nigeria, clutching my copy of her book “Cutting the Rose: Female Genital Mutilation, The Practice and its Prevention”. I was completely inspired by this brave woman who had chosen to write so poignantly about the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). At 9, I ran into the house and went into my bedroom, scrambling around for my black notebook. In my rather poor handwriting, I wrote one word ‘Mama’ and added her to the list of women who inspired me. And for years to come, I would continue to admire and be inspired by this woman who was incredibly beautiful – inside and out.

Efua Dorkenoo, OBE, known affectionately to many…

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Vagina is not a bad word

Remarkable writing👏👏

Girls' Globe

Yes, I said it. Vagina.

People often think vagina is a bad word. It is not. Half of the world have vaginas, and the other half have penises. I cannot understand why we avoid talking about vaginas. When I am spending time with friends and I mention the word vagina they say, “June, stop! People can hear us!” It puzzles me how people can not deal with saying ‘vagina’. Ok, maybe I’ve said the word vagina too many times, but you get the point.

When I talk about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), I often begin by saying that we are going to have a conversation about vaginas, fannies and muffs. FGM is the partial or total removal of a woman’s genitals for non-medical reasons and has life-long consequences on women and girls. FGM breaches at least 5 human rights of women and girls, and takes away a woman’s right to…

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CAMPAIGNERS, DFID, FGM, GIRL SUMMIT, Uncategorized

The Girl Summit- A Pivotal Moment

The Girl Summit- A Pivotal Moment

On July 22, activists, community leaders, civil society organizations (CSOs), governments, and international organizations all converge on London for Girl Summit 2014. To discuss how to end two of the most pressing human rights violations of our time: child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) and female genital mutilation (FGM).

After months of planning, endless discussions, workshops and meetings with DFID Senior Managers like Jane Miller and Jane Hobson. The day finally came for the world to say no to FGM and child marriage.

Opening the Girl Summit at the Walworth Academy with my speech, I knew then as a FGM survivor and campaigner, we have reached a pivotal moment. A milestone that will transform the lives of girls around the world expose to the dangers of female genital mutilation and child early force marriage.

Hearing my fellow speaker, Farwa, a member of the #YouthforChange Youth Panel and Hannah speak at Girl Summit I knew that the voices of the young people at the Summit would bring lasting change to the lives of millions of girls at risk of FGM and CEFM. Thanks to the excellent work by DFID (Lyndsay and colleagues) who worked for months to get the young people from around the work to look to ways to get firm commitments from the delegates. #GirlEffect

Highlights of the Girl Summit

Powerful speeches delivered. Great music and dancing. There were round tables and spotlight sessions. For me the highlight of the Summit was hearing the powerful voices of the brave young people, like Hannah, June, Alfred and Alice and many more who were the catalyst for change.

Demanding an end to the abhorrent practices of FGM and CEFM.

The Girl Summit was the start of something big for FGM victims and survivors as well as those seasoned campaigners around the world who have fought tirelessly to end the practise of female genital mutilation. Campaigners like Efua Dorkenoo OBE of Equality Now, Dr Comfort Momoh OBE, Jane Ellison M.P., Lynn Featherstone, Marina Yannikaides and First Lady of Bukina Faso, Madam Chantal Campoare whose pioneering work on FGM has contributed to the international recognition of FGM as a public health and a human rights issues.

Present trends

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

According to a recent UNICEF publication at least 125 million girls and women have experienced FGM/C in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated. Given present trends, as many as 30 million girls under the age of 15 may still be at risk. However, the data shows that FGM/C is becoming less prevalent overall and the younger generation is less vulnerable to the practice. According to UNICEF estimates, on average, 36 per cent of girls aged 15-19 have been cut compared to an estimated 53 per cent of women aged 45-49 (UNICEF ChildInfo).

Prime Minister David Cameron announced that here in the United Kingdom, 130,000 people affected by FGM. 60,000 girls under the age of 15 potentially at risk.

Pledges and Commitments

At the Girl Summit, UK government secured substantial commitments from heads of state, foundations, and international organizations from around the world. Offer pledging much-needed financial and technical resources to the effort, as well as pledges from governments and civil society to work together in more strategic ways, including by working with girls themselves to ensure that all girls everywhere can live healthy and empowered lives. You can follow the Summit commitments online at: www.girlsummit2014.org.

I wholeheartedly welcome the landmark pledges made by Liberia’s Gender Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell and Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Ghana at Girl Summit 2014. Both announcing that their respective countries will ban female genital mutilation (FGM). This represents the first time that Liberia had agreed to include the elimination of FGM on its agenda. Its adoption represents the culmination of years of work.

While there is almost universal condemnation of FGM practices in national and global discussions, not enough was said on what will be done to actually stop countries where FGM is still rive and girls are still dying from the practice. The Girl Summit was a chance to change the status quo and turn rhetoric into action. We already know what works to prevent and mitigate the harmful effects of these practices; what we need now is the political will and financial commitment to scale up effective programs.

Community Engagement

What was also missing was how the powerful voices of the survivors be utilized to change mind-sets. The sweep of change happening around FGM in the UK has been strongly attributed to the efforts of Survivors.

In order to tackle FGM, the voices of the survivors, grassroots campaigners who live within the affected communities is vital. They are familiar with the complex issues associated with the practice in their communities. If we are to end FGM in this generation, there must be a collective action plan on FGM, which will bring together key components such as survivors, campaigners, diaspora communities, grassroots organizations and individuals who will galvanize and lead changes within their communities.

 

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