“Female genital mutilation has nothing to do with culture, tradition, or religion. It is torture and a crime. Help us to put an end to this crime.” — Waris Dirie, Survivor of FGM, UN FGM Ambassador, Founder of the Desert Flower Foundation and former Supermodel
FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation. FGM is a harmful and dangerous practice that involves the outer parts of the vagina- including the labia and the clitoris- being partially or totally removed. There are four main types of FGM and in the case of type 3, which can be the most detrimental to a victim’s reproductive health, the vagina is sewn up, leaving only a small hole for urinating, menstruation and sexual intercourse. FGM is predominantly carried out in parts of Africa. Increasingly it has been found in societies in Asia and also migrant communities across Europe and America.
FGM is often carried out without aesthetic on girls between the ages of 3 and 14. The implements used can be razors, scissors or knives. The practice causes extreme pain and the psychological and physical effects are devastating and can often be life threatening. FGM has been recognised as a practice that is born from societies with both gender imbalances and other forms of violence against women.
There is a powerful global movement campaigning for an end to FGM at grassroots, regional, national and international levels. We have compiled 16 of the most notable charities, campaigns and organisations working towards an eradication of FGM across the globe. Enjoy reading about these great organisations and we look forward to your feedback.
Written by Angelique Mulholland; Edited by Crystal Smith and Regina Yau
Organisation 1: 28 Too Many – Africa
28 Too Many is a values based charity that seeks to eradicate FGM in the 28 African countries where it is still practised. The charity works at community level, mapping best practise and collecting key data across communities, regions and countries. As well as creating vital and workable networks across education and health, the charity’s ultimate goal is to create a domino effect to end FGM in Africa for good. The organisation’s Flickr account has many photos from work in the field and also some powerful art created by African survivors of FGM.
Organisation 2: African Women’s Organisation – Austria
Based in Vienna, Austria, The African Women’s Organisation is a non-governmental organisation established in 1996 by women from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt and other African countries. Working directly with other non-governmental organizations as well as government departments and offices involved with the welfare of women and immigrants, the organisation’s central aim is to raise awareness and educate on FGM and its consequences.
Organisation 3: Ban FGM – campaign for UN resolution – United Nations
The specific aim of this campaign is for a UN resolution which will require all states to adopt and implement legislation to ban female genital mutilation and to take all necessary legislative, political and operational measures aimed at ending the practice. Ban FGM is a coalition of partner organisations and NGOs worldwide including “No peace without women”, “The National Union of Eritrean Women” and “Save the Somali Women and Girls”. On 17th October 2012 African member states submitted a draft resolution to the UN for a ban on FGM. This is the most significant step for the worldwide movement to ban FGM. If you would like to join the coalition you can submit your non-profit or charity here.
Organisation 4: Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation – Nigeria, Egypt, United Kingdom and the United States of America
CAGeM is a global network that seeks to educate about FGM by working with communities at a grassroots level. CAGeM’s Head Quarters are in Nigeria with offices in Egypt, California and New York. Their workshops offer a safe and non-confrontational space for women to talk about the often complex and conflicting feelings surrounding FGM. CAGeM recognises that FGM is a force of gender inequality within practicing societies. FGM survivors are supported to focus on empowerment and economic independence within their households, thus strengthening the role of women and girls in society. CAGeM focuses on the empowerment and emotional restoration of survivors.
Organisation 5: Daughters Of Eve – United Kingdom
Daughters of Eve is a non-profit organisation that offers survivor support, signposting services and works to protect girls and young women who are at risk from female genital mutilation (FGM). The organisation seeks to help young women who are at risk of FGM or gender-based violence to access the appropriate services to protect them. They give support and counselling for FGM sufferers and offer expert advice on issues affecting FGM victims such as child birth, reversal procedures and reproductive health. Daughters of Eve takes a holistic approach and recognises that FGM occurs in a wider context of gender based violence and issues relating to gender inequality.
Organisation 6: END FGM European campaign – European Union
The END FGM European Campaign is funded by Amnesty International Ireland and works with strategic European based partners to lobby the European Union on policy change that will end FGM. Their mission is for the European Union to adopt a comprehensive approach to end female genital mutilation and protect women and girls fleeing their countries for fear of being mutilated and suffering gender based violence. END FGM and its partner organisations have a five-point strategy which has been drawn up by experts in the field of law, human rights and development, and calls upon the EU to tackle FGM through these key areas of action: Data Protection; Health; Integrating FGM into a broader strategy to end violence against women; Protecting asylum seekers at risk of, or affected by FGM; Include FGM in EU’s engagements for the rest of the world.
To read more about END FGM’s 5 point strategy and its successes to date please read here.
Organisation 7: FGM – HILFE – Austria
FGM HILFE has two main objectives: to financially support the project Al Baraka Foundation (ABF) in Burao / Somaliland and to raise awareness of FGM throughout schools across Europe. The ABF project has built and resourced a medical centre which provides free medication, gynaecological checks and counselling for women affected by FGM. It also runs a sponsorship program that provides free education for girls and a subsidised school for 200 girls and boys. The Chairperson, Elisabeth Cencig has visited 65 schools in Austria and Italy, talking to students about FGM and informing them of the work being done in Somaliland.
Organisation 8: FGM National Clinical Group – United Kingdom
The FGM National Clinical Group is was established in 2007 in the UK and is a charity dedicated to women who have been affected by FGM. The charity consists of multi-disciplinary networks of healthcare professionals, advocacy leaders and academics. The charity has launched an FGM resource film aimed at specialists to educate on FGM and they develop their evidence-based research methods with specialists. Working and evaluating best practise within the NHS, the FGM Clinical Group works closely with the Royal College of Nurses and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Organisation 9: FORWARD – The African Diaspora
FORWARD stands for ‘The Foundation for Women’s Health, Research And Development.” An African diaspora network, FORWARD was established in 1983. The International non-governmental organisation is a women’s led campaign which seeks to advance and safeguard the reproductive health of African women and girls. FORWARD strives to tackle FGM, child marriage and gender-based violence through educational workshops, advocacy, support programmes and information sharing. FORWARD is the lead agency tackling FGM in the UK and works at a strategic level in Europe and Africa.
Organisation 10: GAMS – France
Another leader within Europe, France has spearheaded accountability and prosecution of FGM perpetrators and also offers free corrective surgery for FGM survivors. GAMS is a charity that works with victims of FGM, forced child marriage and gender-based violence and offers free and anonymous counselling to victims. They also run training programmes and advocacy networks.
Organisation 11: Integrate Bristol – United Kingdom
Integrate Bristol is a charity that seeks to integrate children who have migrated to Britain from other countries into mainstream British life while keeping their cultural identity and a connection with their home country. One of Integrate Bristol’s core charities is campaigning for an end to FGM in the UK. The lifeblood of the organisation is young activists from migrant communities who are campaigning key health and education strategies to be implemented by government departments. The young activists have created an award-winning short film called “Silent Scream” that has received critical acclaim. You can watch the film here.
Organisation 12: RISK – Sweden
Sweden is a European leader in the fight against FGM. RISK is the Swedish acronym for the national association for ending female genital mutilation (FGM). It is a nongovernmental organization works with grassroots and partner organisations to end FGM in Sweden and beyond. A partner organisation called Female Integrity was set up in 1995 and both organisations work together to map out future strategy to end the practice in Sweden. They also work closely with the Ethiopian Women’s Association in Uppsala.
Organisation 13: Stop FGM Now – Germany
“Stop FGM Now” is a campaign supported by The Waris Dirie foundation and initiated by German company “Heymann Brandt di Gemini”. The campaign brings together associations, companies and individuals to fight FGM by raising both awareness and funds. The campaign has an impressive array of sponsors and supporters: you can view them here. Resource and funds can often be a stumbling block for many charities fighting FGM. Working with business in partnership, like the Stop FGM campaign, has proven to be very effective.
Organisation 14: The Desert Flower Foundation – Austria and Worldwide
Established by the former supermodel and now dedicated activist, Waris Dirie, The Desert Flower Foundation is a charity committed to ending FGM. Waris Dirie was subjected to FGM at the age of 5. By the age of 12 she was a victim of child marriage and had fled to the UK at the age of 15. Waris’ story was made into a feature film in 2008 and her biography became an International bestseller, selling 11 million copies worldwide. The Foundation seeks to raise awareness of FGM by providing education workshops, organising fundraising events and supporting victims.
Organisation 15: The Orchid Project – United Kingdom and Worldwide
The Orchid Project is a charity that believes influencing decision makers at every level is the key to ending FGM for the next generation. At grassroots, regional and national levels, The Orchid Project seeks to advocate an abandonment of FGM and lobby and network in both diaspora communities and parent practising FGM societies. The Orchid Project is charity that relies on fundraising and its small team networks with other charities, non-profits and organisations to create effective change.
Organisation 16: With (he)art against FGM
This campaign is unique to any other FGM campaign we have seen! Launched two years ago in order to raise awareness on Female Genital Mutilation and to encourage people to take action, With (he)art against FGM is a collaboration of visual artists, musicians, poets, singers and writers. Have a browse around their website to see some of the incredible art, beautiful songs and moving poetry that has been created. The campaign also organises competitions, exhibitions, concerts and social media activities to reach and mobilize as many people as possible. The group of artists are hoping to create emotional engagement and to stimulate a global discussion in online forums and social networks. They have commented: “The eradication of this gross violation of human rights must take the position it deserves, high on the world agenda.”
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