Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a harmful traditional practice that ranges from the partial or total removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy), to the removal of the entire clitoris and the cutting of the labia minora (excision), to its most extreme form, the removal of all external genitalia and the stitching together of the two sides of the vulva (infibulation). FGM is one of many traditional practices used around the world to deny women independence and equality.
FGM is defended in the cultures where it is practiced as a rite of passage and a social prerequisite of marriage, and it is used to control women’s sexuality by safeguarding virginity and suppressing sexual desire. According to UNICEF, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in at least 29 countries. On the African continent, more than three million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM annually. FGM can have fatal consequences due to hemorrhage, infection, or later in life during childbirth. No one knows how many girls and women die every year from FGM.
Donor Direct Action has created a Fund to End FGM in memory of Efua Dorkenoo, one of the founders of the movement to end the practice. Efua, who passed away in October 2014, was the first activist to frame the issue of FGM as a human rights violation, bringing it to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in the 1970s. She envisioned a holistic approach to end FGM, encompassing child protection (shelters for girls as well as prosecution of perpetrators), girls’ education, alternative rites of passage that do not involve cutting, and alternative income generating opportunities for circumcisers. Efua was a visionary, at home on the front lines of grassroots activism and a force to be reckoned with in the halls of the World Health Organization. She was honored for her work by the Queen of England, who bestowed the Order of the British Empire on her.
LISTEN TO MERYL STREEP READING ALICE WALKER’S TRIBUTE TO EFUA DORKENOO
Excerpted from the Equality Now film Africa Rising
Donor Direct Action’s Fund in memory of Efua Dorkenoo supports two grassroots organizations working on the front lines of the movement to end FGM: Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (GECPD) in Somalia and Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative (TNI) in Kenya. TNI has brought to life for Maasai girls in Kenya Efua’s vision of child protection, and GECPD relies on the holistic approach to ending FGM pioneered by Efua, centered on the critical importance of girls’ education. These groups help young girls avoid FGM and intervene when girls run away from the harmful practice. They need your support to continue their life saving work.