A British-Somalilander and the anti-FGM campaigner, Nimco Ali says If we invest more money into women, who are the real agents of change, we can and will end FGM by 2030′
By Nimco Ali
Female genital mutilation (FGM) has affected over 200 million women and girls around the world. And 44 million of those were under 14, with numbers likely to increase as the population grows.
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This devastating practice, which intentionally injures or alters young girl’s genital organs for non-medical reasons, violates the human rights of girls. Not only does FGM cause lifelong medical and psychological problems, but it can also kill as we have seen recently in Somalia, Kenya and Sierra Leone.
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Last week, the first-ever successful conviction of FGM in the UK took place. This is great news, but the fact that the practice is happening in London is an open secret. And we are not doing enough to fight the issue.
FGM is often the first time that a girl is told she is not perfect the way she is and that something fundamental about her needs to be changed. If this cycle of abuse is broken at the beginning, her whole future path can be transformed, enabling her to access better education, potential employment and live life to her full potential (which included contributing economically).
As today marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, it’s a good time to look how far we have come and what we need to achieve next.
I was in Kenya a week ago. Globally, the country is leading the way and has reduced the practice from 41% to 11% in recent decades. Burkina Faso, in West Africa, has reduced it from 89% to 58% and Egypt from 97% to 70%.
Yes, those numbers are still high but they also show that change is possible. If we invest more money into women, who are the real agents of change, we can and will end FGM by 2030.
What we have seen works best is when local African women activists are supported and allowed to lead. The tangibility of FGM ending is because of African women on the frontline.
This remarkable young woman is not alone in Kenya. Josephine Kulea, a Kenyan child rights activist and the founder of Samburu Girl Foundation. She has rescued thousands of girls from FGM.
What Josephine and Jaha have in common is not just their successes but the reality of how hard it is to scale it up. Women on the frontline of FGM work never get the recognition and funding they need. Right now, as I write, I can tell you that both Jaha and Josephine will be wondering how to pay for the work they need to do. Work which has been proven to be extremely effective.
Late last year the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) made a huge £50m commitment to end FGM. This is the single largest investment to end FGM by any government, and it is incredible. But it won’t actually eradicate the practice unless the m0ney funds women on the frontline. And, as taxpayers, we should ensure it does.
As a survivor of FGM myself, who has lived with it from 7-years-old, I know we can end the practice, but I need your help in making sure we fund African women. When we spend aid effectively we change lives and shape futures.
Please stand with me in shaping a world free of abuse. If we want to celebrate life without FGM we have to fund women like Jaha and Josephine – they are the leaders in this fight.
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