Female Genital Mutilation
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12 NGOs Fighting Against Female Genital Mutilation

February 6th is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. As part of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development the United Nations (UN) demands full human rights for all women and girls.

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

The UN has a dedicated website with information where we can learn that female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. The practice also violates their rights to health, security and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death.

To promote the abandonment of FGM, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed, and these must engage whole communities and focus on human rights and gender equality. Their efforts emphasize societal dialogue and the empowerment of communities to act collectively to end the practice. They must also address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.

UNFPA, jointly with UNICEF, leads the largest global program to accelerate the abandonment of FGM. The program currently focuses on 17 African countries and also supports regional and global initiatives.

5 Key facts on FGM

  1. Globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.
  2. Girls 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM among this age in Gambia at 56 percent, Mauritania 54 percent and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have undergone the practice.
  3. Countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged 15 to 49 are Somalia 98 percent, Guinea 97 percent and Djibouti 93 percent.
  4. FGM causes severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
  5. The elimination of FGM has been called for by numerous inter-governmental organizations, including the African Union, the European Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as in three resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly.

This list of twelve NGOs offers an insight into the efforts made by these organizations with a key focus on this subject. They dedicate all their energy and efforts in promoting gender equality and human rights. On a daily basis, field workers and staff at NGO headquarters work in collaboration to fight this horrible act against innocent girls.

The list below is in alphabetical order and it is not exhaustive. Please note that we recognize the importance of the work done by any other NGO that is not mentioned herein. Should you have in mind an organization that should be added to this list, please let us know via Twitter.

12 NGO Fighting Against Female Mutilation

1. 28 Too Many

28 Too Many is a charity in England and Wales, established in 2010 by Dr Ann-Marie Wilson to undertake research and provide knowledge and tools to those working to end FGM in the countries in Africa where it is practiced and across the diaspora worldwide. 28 Too Many effects change by collating and interpreting data (research), guiding influencers and equipping local organizations who work to bring about change in local communities.

2. United Nations and European Union Spotlight initiative

This initiative will respond to all forms of violence against women and girls. Its focus is on domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices. An initial investment on the order of EUR 500 million will be made, with the EU as the main contributor.

3. Daughters Of Eve 

Daughters of Eve envisions a world where girls are safe and free from all forms of gender-based violence, and where FGM is eradicated within our generation. They fill the vacuum in services for young people while complimenting exciting organizations in the field and seeking to support work already going on. Daughters of Eve’s aim is to support, advise, advocate and empower young people who have or may not have experienced the practice of FGM and to be their unedited voice. It works tirelessly to end all gender-based violence, particularly FGM, in one generation and gain equality for young people through protection, prevention, provision and participation. Daughters of Eve accomplishes this by sharing about how to protect girls from gender-based violation.

4. END FGM European campaign

The End FGM European network (END FGM) is a European umbrella network of 19 organizations working to ensure sustainable European action to end FGM. The network creates an enabling environment for action by European decision-makers to end FGM and other forms of violence against women and girls. The network also tries to bring a diverse number of organizations together. Their latest campaign is called #myissuetoo.

5. Stop FGM.net

This Austrian initiative to advocate against all types of FGM activities has an impressive list of over 30 national and international founding organizations from Austria. Since then over 30 Austrian organizations adjoined the initiative. Most initiatives are paid for from by the City of Vienna. Here you can find the list of initiatives. It is a list in the German language but can be easily translated by Google Translate.

6. FGM National Clinical Group

Conceived in 2007, the FGM National Clinical Group is a UK-based registered charity working with women who have been affected by FGM. Completely independent and unfunded via coordinated clinical networks and research, they are committed to improving the lives of women and their daughters who are at risk of FGM. This UK group has previously hosted two thematic conferences that have attracted major interest from not only mainstream healthcare circles but also from students and academia.

7. Global Alliance Against FGM

This is a special consulting organization and is accredited by the United Nations and based in St. Jeanne de Gonville, France and Geneva, Switzerland. They understand the fact that as long as FGM exists, gender equality remains an illusion. They use music, culture and arts to advocate and support educational project training and research.

8. FORWARD 

FORWARD works in the UK, Europe and Africa to safeguard girls at risk of FGM and supports women affected. They do this through direct community engagement, advocacy and strategic partnerships. You can read more about their work in the UK, Europe and their work in Africa here. They have an extensive information hub where you can read research regarding FGM.

9. GAMS Belgium

The objective of GAMS Belgium is to contribute to the abandonment of female genital mutilation in Belgium and worldwide. GAMS is a charity that works with victims of FGM and other forms of violence against women and girls. Beyond the training and awareness sessions, GAMS proposes an individual and adapted aid to all women who have suffered from sexual mutilations and/or forced marriage. GAMS Belgium is, above all, a place of welcome where the women are seen individually. GAMS takes the time to get acquainted with these woman and listens to their stories and their requests. If all goes well, a relationship founded on trust is born. From there, the work of healing begins.

10. Female Integrity and RISK

Female Integrity is a Swedish NGO working to end harmful practices against women and especially the practice of FGM. This association is the Uppsala-based organization of RISK, which is the national association for ending the practice of FGM. It works in close coordination and cooperation with the other branch associations of RISK. It also participates in the activities of other organizations that generally campaign for human rights. The association campaigns for ending the practice of FGM by raising consciousness of the injurious effects of the practice through information and education. Female Integrity together with the Ethiopian Women’s Association in Uppsala, Sweden participates in national and international seminars where the progress of the campaign against FGM is discussed, updated and future strategy mapped out.

11. The Desert Flower Foundation

The Desert Flower Foundation was founded by the former supermodel and bond girl Waris Dirie. Dirie abandoned her modeling career in 1997 to focus on her work against FGM. She was appointed the UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. The Desert Flower Foundation is a charity committed to ending FGM. Waris Dirie was subjected to FGM herself at the age of 5. By the age of 12, she was a victim of child marriage and then fled to the UK at the age of 15. Her story has been featured in a film and a book. The Foundation seeks to raise awareness of FGM by providing educational workshops, organizing fundraising events and supporting victims.

12. Orchid Project

Julia Lalla-Maharajh was volunteering in Ethiopia when she first came across the practice of Female Genital Cutting (FGC.) Having witnessed for herself how widespread and damaging the practice was in just one country, she returned to the UK determined to help bring about an end to FGC. After volunteering with various charities and NGOs already working on the practice, in order to find out more about FGC, Julia threw herself into her new role as an ambassador for ending FGC. What followed were stints on the Trafalgar Square Plinth to raise awareness, a YouTube competition for a human rights campaigner to attend the World Economic Forum, and a trip to Davos after her three minute video won her a place in a global voting competition. Watch it here.

The main question brought to Julia at Davos was, “What can we do to end FGC?” She found the answer to this after visiting Tostan, a Senegal-based NGO, in early 2011. Returning from Senegal, she realized that in order to bring about real change, setting up a charity with the sole purpose of ending FGC was the right course of action, and in 2011, the Orchid Project was founded in order to fulfil this role.

Have a look at this TEDxLondonBusinessSchool video where Julia speaks on how to end FGC  in our lifetime.

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