Every year more than 3 million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) and 14 million are married before they reach 18 years of age. For too many girls these harmful practices end their childhood and are a violation of their rights to safety, health and education. This is a truly global issue, happening across countries, cultures and religion.
What is The Girl Summit?
On 22nd July the UK Government and UNICEF are co-hosting the first Girl Summit, which is the first international forum to look at these two issues together. It will focus on sharing successful approaches and securing new commitments to take action on these issues from governments, civil society, faith leaders and the private sector.
The UK Government hopes that this Summit will be the catalyst for a step change in the campaigns to end FGM and CEFM, encouraging many more actors to engage in a global movement. It wants to highlight the changes taking place in communities such as in a Maasai village in Kenya we visited where two girls who knew about FGM from a school health club ran away on learning about their impending FGM. They were reunited with their families, helped their community say no to FGM and FGM has not been practised in their village for the last 8 years. These two girls inspired a village to abandon FGM and the Summit wants to inspire our generation to end FGM and CEFM worldwide.
What is the Summit aiming to do?
This is a Summit with a big ambition to create a world where FGM and CEFM are no longer practised. This can only be achieved when girls and women’s rights are respected so they can fulfil their potential free from violence and discrimination.
The three main aims for the Summit are:
What are our hopes for the Summit?
As an organisation dedicated to researching and campaigning to end FGM, 28 Too Many supports the Summit’s aims and we are pleased that this high profile event will bring attention and raise awareness of the terrible impact of FGM and CEFM. We are pleased to be joined by our partner, Dr Rev Medad Birungi of World Shine Ministries from Uganda and Dr Morissanda Kouyaté, Executive Director of Inter-African Committee (IAC) from Ethiopia who also campaign to end harmful practices.
Researching FGM in Africa we connect with many organisations and activists working at community level against these practices. Every day they provide advice and protection to those at risk, support survivors and campaign to end FGM and CEFM. This where the fight to end harmful practices will be won or lost and it is vital that governments, international agencies, faith organisations and those who can leverage money and resources join together to support this community based work.
We are glad that the Summit is encouraging participants to consider what they need to do internationally and domestically to end FGM and CEFM. This is not someone else’s problem that happens in some other country. This violation of girls’ rights is a global shame and all countries need to address the issue at home and support those making a difference in other countries.
As members of the Restored Alliance, We Will Speak Out Coalition and Gender and Development Network, 28 Too Many is pleased to be working with many partner organisations at this Summit, within the end FGM movement and in the wider campaign to end sexual violence. The Summit is bringing together key actors from different countries, faiths and backgrounds but all of whom have a role to play in ending these practices and creating a world where no girl faces FGM or CEFM. It is important that the Summit leads to firm commitments and along with our partners we will be holding those responsible for delivering to account over the coming months and years.
How can you get involved and add your voice?
The Girl Summit is an important opportunity for us all to make a commitment to end FGM and CEFM. We can all support the Summit, make our personal commitment and be part of creating a future where girls and women can fulfil their potential and live free from discrimination and violence.
Attendance at the main session on 22nd July is by invitation only but there are many other ways to show your support and join in via social media.
You can support the Girl Summit by signing a pledge calling for an end to FGM and CEFM.
Here are other ways you can get involved in Summit.
There is also a special Girl Effect Live event taking place in East London on Sunday 20th July. The afternoon is free and open to the public, featuring exhibitions, performances, workshops and discussions on girls’ empowerment.
There is also a special Youth for Change event for on Saturday 19th July to ensure that young people are engaged in the Summit and that their voices and demands are heard. 28 Too Many’s young researcher Ella is attending this event and you can follow this on Twitter using hashtag #youthforchange.
You can also learn more about our work to end FGM and how you can help at www.28toomany.org. You can donate to support our research and campaigns and follow us on Facebook for updates on the global movement to end FGM.