4 inspirational projects ending FGM in Africa
In Africa, three million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) every year. Not only is the practice a violation of human rights that enforces gender inequality, it is an unnecessary one that has severe health and psychological consequences.
Despite the brutality of the practice and the consequences FGM has, it is a traditional practice that is ingrained in communities and therefore difficult to end. This is why we work with not only the girls at risk, but also family decision makers and esteemed leaders in communities who have a lot of power to raise awareness of the risks, challenge perceptions and bring an end to FGM.
On International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, we take a look at four of our inspiring projects in Africa that are engaging and empowering communities to bring about change and end the practice so no girl has to endure the severe pain FGM causes again.
Educating communities in Egypt
In a country that has one of the worst gender inequalities in the world, we’re reaching up to 10,000 people to end violence against women and girls, including ending FGM. Our project helps girls and women by:
- delivering educational programmes with doctors and religious leaders that teach girls and women about their rights and the harm caused by cutting,
- training men and boys to become agents of change who promote gender equality in their communities and challenge misconceptions about FGM,
- organising home visits to families with girls at risk of FGM,
- and providing mobile health and legal clinics that give advice on FGM.
Ife, 13, Egypt
The Uncut Girls’ Club in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, FGM has affected 23.8 million girls – making it the second highest country in Africa of girls and women who have undergone FGM. In a Plan International supported school, over 50 girls make up the Uncut Girls’ Club. At the club, members are educated about the risks of FGM. They also spread the message to their families and community, empowering their peers, helping to put an end to the harmful practice. These inspiring girls are holding their heads up high and saying no to being cut and empowering others to do the same.
Weyinitu, 12, Ethiopia
Reducing FGM by 10% in Mali
Our project in Mali is definitely something worth shouting about - it's helped drop FGM rates of girls under 14 by 10 per cent and 72 villages have now banned the practice. The project reached 45,000 girls and 130,000 women and included:
- training children and teachers to protect themselves and advocate against FGM,
- supporting the government to develop a provisional bill to strengthen national legislation in favour of ending FGM,
- empowering religious leaders to end the myths linking FGM to religion,
- and organising media forums to encourage journalists to write about the risks.
Youma, 13, Mali
Empowering girls through football in Tanzania
Football is one of the most popular sports in Tanzania and carries an enormous power to mobilise and engage people, making it a great vehicle to raise awareness of the dangers of FGM.
We have set up a total of 30 girls’ clubs and provided life skills, confidence building and self-protection training to 439 girls. We organised football tournaments between the clubs that reached over 1,800 people where commentators delivered messages on FGM. Banners and leaflets were also distributed and short plays were performed.
The project has gained the support of over 90 influential women such as midwives, previous FGM cutters and religious leaders.