As they learn about the terrible and needless impact of FGM on millions of girls and women worldwide, every day more people are deciding that something should be done to stop this harmful practice.
There are lots of ways people can be part of the campaign to end FGM. Some people volunteer to work with charities like 28 Too Many but many of us need to find a way to contribute alongside our already busy lives. Here are three stories of people who determined to take action and have worked with 28 Too Many to raise awareness and help build momentum so that we are the generation which says no more and makes sure that FGM is finally ended.
Coffee, cake and fundraising to help end FGM
Lydia is 15 years old and after learning about FGM she decided to arrange a coffee and cake evening to raise awareness of FGM with her friends and family and also to raise funds for campaigning against the practice. She contacted 28 Too Many for information and resources and then, with the support of her mother, earlier this summer Lydia arranged a successful, informative and fun evening for family and friends.
Here are Lydia’s reflections on the evening. “The evening went really well. There were 12 of us, the youngest 14 and the eldest 60, so it was a good mix of people. We chatted for a while at the beginning over lots of cake and lemonade, and then opened a discussion, asking what people already knew about FGM. Several pointed out that while they had heard of it, they didn't really know much about it. It also became clear that there a lot of misconceptions about FGM, including things such as in which countries it happens most, and just how many girls are affected by it.
“As a lot of the people present were mothers, we also had some discussions about cultural differences, and how hard it is to imagine having to choose between cutting your child or being shunned by your community, and also about the myths that exist about FGM in the countries where it happens. We also watched a powerful video of women speaking about their own experiences of FGM. At the end of the evening, it was clear that everyone had been moved by what they'd heard. Everyone was extremely generous, and we ended up raising £185!”
Many of us feel small and helpless in the face of such a deeply entrenched practice like FGM but like many other inspirational young people who are standing against FGM, Lydia shows us that we can all do something.
Flimsymoon – a new business supporting our work against FGM
Designer Freyia has launched an innovative crowd funding campaign to raise money for her new collection of luxury lingerie. A keen supporter of the anti-FGM campaign, Freyia wants her business to be ethical and is starting as she intends to carry on by choosing 28 Too Many as a nominated charity to receive a portion of the money raised by her campaign.
“Ever since I first read about this ridiculously unnecessary and cruel procedure in a women's magazine as a teenager I have been morbidly fascinated by the topic. I am a strong believer in everyone being able to enjoy their bodies and take pleasure from them. To me, to violently take this away from someone is disgusting and disturbing,” explains Freyia.
“My lingerie brand is all about adoring and adorning the female figure. We are pro body positivity and women owning their sexuality. We are committed to helping the campaign to end FGM and hope that we can work closely with 28 Too Many as we become more established.”
We hope that other businesses are inspired by Freyia and look for ways that they can act responsibly and give back to society.
Raising awareness in Australia
Paula and Sanjay from Melbourne Australia are long-time supporters of 28 Too Many and hosted our director Ann-Marie Wilson for part of her visit to Australia last year. With significant diaspora communities in Australia from FGM practising countries, until very recently there has been little awareness or public discourse on FGM. Paula and Sanjay wanted to help the people in their community understand about FGM and that it is an issues in Australia. As Sanjay explains below they organised a special awareness raising afternoon at their local church.
“Our FGM awareness raising event for 28 Too Many was a great success! Around 65 people attended and the afternoon was filled with information and entertainment including some lovely songs, solos of singing and saxophone and even a member of the congregation singing in Chinese. Everyone enjoyed the scones and tea but most importantly the awareness of 28toomany and its cause were heard.
“We explained about FGM and provided information including the brochures provided by 28 Too Many. Paula gave a brief talk to explain about her connection to the charity, the work of 28 Too Many and how people can join and support the campaign to end FGM.”
What can you do?
Lydia, Freyia, Sanjay and Paula have made a difference already by reaching out to inform others about FGM and raising money to support anti-FGM programmes. If this has inspired you, perhaps you could do something similar?