What it takes to end FGM
Ann-Marie Wilson, founder of organisation 28 Too Many, explains how
Illiteracy fuels the ignorance that allows Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to endure. At least 200 million girls have undergone FGM globally.
Ann-Marie Wilson, 28 Too Many’s founder, explains what can be done to end the practice for good.
In which countries are women most affected by FGM?
It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM. Although it is also carried out in some parts of Asia, the Middle East and South America, the majority of cases are in 28 countries in Africa and the diaspora – hence our name “28 Too Many”.
What are the key steps to ending FGM?
Partnerships are essential to ending FGM. We work together with communities as well as national and international NGOs to urge governments to take responsibility for ending FGM.
This includes the introduction and implementation of laws banning the practice of FGM. The reasons for FGM tend to be deeply rooted in tradition and culture, it is therefore essential that these aspects are considered when attempting to outlaw FGM. Education for both men and women plays a huge role in addressing the social and economic constraints on women, as well as changing the cultural attitude towards FGM. None of this can happen without adequate funding; for both the fight to end FGM and to invest in the future of girls and young women that are faced with the practice.
How can literacy help to end the practice?
Education and literacy are vital for empowering women and enabling them to make informed choices in their lives. For many girls, FGM marks the end of their schooling. If we can break this cycle by ensuring that girls remain in school and complete their education, it not only improves their life chances, but also enables them to contribute to the development of their families and communities.
On a practical level, educating the community has a key role to play in changing attitudes towards FGM. Education is how we can explain the harm caused by FGM and why it is wrong. When people are uneducated and illiterate they are often denied access to information about FGM and other health risks. Research shows that improving mothers’ access to education can help to break the cycle of FGM.
In what ways can people help 28 Too Many eradicate FGM?
28 Too Many relies heavily on the support of volunteers and donors, so one huge way people can help is by making a donation towards our charity. This money is used to: provide anti-FGM training to educate communities and health leaders, produce vital research that is used at all levels to educate and advocate against FGM, end FGM through the use of sport, support local groups in their efforts to end FGM, and produce packs for schools in the UK and Africa. You can visit our website where we have many FGM resources, follow us on social media for updates on what is happening in the fight against FGM and tell others about the work we do.
What would be your advice to people who want to follow in your footsteps and work for a charitable foundation?
Find out as much as you can about the area of work you are interested in and look for a charity whose aims and ideals match those of your own. Contact them to find out if you can help. Get as much useful experience as you can, look at how the skills you have could be useful to a charity and look at ways of filling gaps in your skills through training, studying, and volunteer work. Charity work can be incredibly hard, both emotionally and physically, but if you are dedicated, then it is definitely worth the effort. You can make a real change in the world by freeing people from harmful practices such as FGM.