We will end female genital mutilation only by backing frontline activists
I underwent female genital mutilation at the age of seven, while on holiday in Djibouti. When I returned to school in the UK my teacher told me that this happened to “girls like me”.
Thankfully, this type of reaction is no longer common, and this country is much better equipped to protect girls at risk. FGM is now seen as a global issue, which we know has affected more than 200 million women and girls around the world.
But a further 68 million girls are estimated to be at risk over the next 10 years, and ending FGM is a huge challenge. Funding – particularly to frontline activists – is almost non-existent. Yet this is where change starts; efforts to end FGM are led from the grassroots, usually by survivors.
The groundbreaking activism of Jaha Dukureh, the Nobel peace prize nominee and founder of Safe Hands for Girls, has regenerated the African movement to end FGM. In 2015, she almost single-handedly got the country to unite in pressing the Gambian government to ban the practice.