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:

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.



Change is on the way in ending FGM in this generation.

For decades now the world has ignored the plight of thousands of girls around the world. Thousands of women and girls have been affected by female genital mutilation are living in the UK. At 16 years old I was cut by a drunk female cutter hired by my grandmother.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women. Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut around the world. FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15. According to the United Nations FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

As a survivor of this most harmful practice, I welcome the idea of the Prime Minister David Cameroon, Justine Greening and UNICEF all coming together tackle FGM and Child Early Force Marriage once and for all. I am very positive that change is coming. On the 22nd July 2014, actions would be taken and commitments made by governments and delegates a like to end FGM and Child Early Force Marriage in this generation.

Change is coming

I will be supporting the Girl Summit to help end female genital mutilation/cutting and child force marriage in this generation. Millions of girls at risk of harmful practices around the world. The aim of the Girl Summit is reduce the exposure violence and severe long term health complication and allow girls to preserve their childhood by promoting education and fulfil their potential in life. To find out how you can make a difference please visit to make your pledge at #GirlSummit

I hope the Girl Summit will establish lasting policies to eliminate violence against women and girls and promote equality. I hope the Girl Summit will continue with engaging with men and boys in the abandonment of female genital mutilation. Opening the Girl Summit I hope to inspire other women and girls to use their voices to reach out to others.

FGM is illegal in the UK – but there have been no prosecutions.