Issues

20 Organizations Fighting Female Genital Mutilation

#1 Desert Flower Foundation

The Desert Flower Foundation was established in 2002 by a world-famous model Waris Dirie and her friends, with the goal to forever eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM). Around 200 million girls around the world are affected by this issue and the goal of the Foundation is to educate and inform people to support and save girls from FGM.

During 2002, the Foundation carried out research on FGM across Europe and Africa and published 4.000 pages report on this practice containing hard facts. This led to many governments and the European Union to put FGM on their issues agenda, as well as implement laws and initiate campaigns against this practice. Today, the Foundation is active in raising awareness against this practice worldwide as well as supporting little girls in Africa by directly saving them from FGM. So far, the Foundation has saved thousands of girls in Africa by signing contracts with their parents promising they will not perform FGM on their daughters. The Foundation also supports victims of FGM with health care and reconstructive surgery, as well as with holistic hospital treatment. It also educates and trains women in Africa and enables them to provide their own income.

#2 Equality Now

Equality Now is an international organization that advocates for a world where women and girls have control over their bodies. For Equality Now, the FGM is a human rights violation deeply rooted in gender equality and discrimination. The organization pushes for adoption of laws that protect girls and supports activists who work in their local communities to put an end to FGM.

Equality Now uses legal advocacy, community mobilization and regional partnerships to push governments to adopt laws that criminalize acts of FGM. It also collaborates with individuals, institutions and coalitions of survivors, activists, legal reformers, corporations and women’s organizations. The organization relies on their expertise and knowledge to spark the change. The core of the organization’s work is giving survivors of FGM a platform to speak and share their stories to raise awareness about the issue around the world.

#3 ActionAid UK

By being a member of ActionAid International, the ActionAid UK is dedicated to working with women and girls living in poverty. The organization is dedicated to helping end violence against women and girls and changing their lives forever. Its work covers three areas-mobilizing resources and raising money through investment to fight poverty, influencing for change to challenge violence and exploitation and achieve equal economic opportunities for women and supporting humanitarian action when emergencies threat women’s wellbeing.

The organization actively works on ending FGM in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gambia and Uganda. It believes that to end FGM, there has to be change in attitudes and behavior at all levels of society. Therefore, the organization provides support to women and girls who escaped FGM through rescue centers, safe houses and girls’ clubs. It also talks openly about the damaging impacts of FGM educating local communities and works with them closely by training them how to speak and influence others about the issues, with an ultimate goal that all communities say ‘No’ to FGM.

#4 Wallace Global Fund

Mission of the Wallace Global Fund is to promote engaged and informed citizenry to fight injustice, and to protect the diversity of nature and the natural systems upon which all life depends. Amongst other goals, the organization is committed to put an end to FGM by 2030. To achieve this, the Fund partners up with local communities mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and works closely with them to end the practice.

The Fund plays one of the main roles in the Donors Working Group on FGM, whose members are also UNFPA, UNICEF, USAID, the US State Department and other multilateral and bilateral donors. The Fund also supports resource mobilization efforts and global advocacy, so that advocates who work in local communities receive political support and funding for their efforts. The Fund also sponsored the Summit on Violence Against Girls and FGM that was held in Washington DC and involved over 200 activists and civil society organizations from around the world. The Fund supports the launch of the US End FGM Network that will coordinate the US groups working on solutions to end and prevent FGM.

#5 28 Too Many

28 Too Many is a charity established in 2010 in England and Wales and that fights to stop FGM in 28 African countries, where it is still practiced. The organization works at community level collecting data and creating education and health networks. The goal of the organization is to create a domino effect to end FGM in Africa forever.

The organization conducts research and provides knowledge and tools to those working to end FGM in African countries. Its vision is a word where every woman and girl is healthy and safe from FGM. The organization presents data it collected in several ways, including country profile reports and thematic papers. By using its research, the organization engages influencers to advocate for change, as well as distributes advocacy materials that are used by local organizations in their communities to bring effective change.

#6 Daughters of Eve

Daughters of is a non-profit organization working to protect young women and girls who are at risk from FGM. It aims to help girls affected by FGM by raising awareness and providing support service, with an aim to bring this practice to an end.

The organization recognizes FGM as gender-based violence which highlights inequalities between men and women and puts in danger health, dignity, autonomy and security of its victims. Therefore, the organization is working to protect and advance reproductive, physical, mental and sexual health rights of young people from FGM within the communities in which it is practiced. It provides healing through holistic approach, as well as offering advice and support to help young people.

#7 African Women Organization

African Women Organization was established in 1996 as a non-governmental organization by women from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt and other African countries. With a seat in Vienna, Austria, the organization is actively collaborating with other organizations and government agencies that deal with issues of immigrants and women welfare.

Since 1998, the organization’s area of priority is fight against FGM. The organization works on raising awareness and ending this practice in immigrant communities whose members originate from FGM risk countries. The activities of the organization also include providing information and materials to students, researchers and media, as well as providing consultation and advice to FGM victims, preparing FGM training aid kits and training trainers and strengthening communication and cooperation with FGM European network.

#8 World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) was established in 1948 as a specialized agency of the UN with a primary purpose to work on global health issues. The constitution of the organization was signed by 61 countries. The WHO, today, is a leading organization in eradication communicable diseases such as HIV, Ebola, malaria, and tuberculosis. The WHO also works on diseases that affect sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, development, food security and other issues.

One of the programs of the WHO is also fighting to end FGM. The World Health Assembly passed a resolution on the elimination of FGM in 2008, concentrating that this type of action is needed in all sectors including women’s affairs, finance, education and health. The WHO works to end FGM by focusing on providing training, policy, and guidelines to health professionals who can provide counseling and medical care for women and girls affected by FGM. The organization also works on building evidence by collecting facts on causes and consequences of FGM as well as advocating by internationally, regionally and locally to end the FGM practice.

#9 End FGM European Network

End FGM European Network (End FGM EU) is an umbrella network of 24 European organizations that are based in 13 European countries and that are working together to end FGM by connecting communities with non-governmental organizations. The Network works on building bridges between all relevant actors that deal with the issue of FGM in Europe and globally.

End FGM EU serves as a platform for organizations, EU actors and communities to interact and cooperate by sharing experience and knowledge. The strategies of the Network include data collection, health, integrating FGM into broader measures on violence against women and girls, protection of asylum seekers and refugees who are affected or at risk of FGM and inclusion of FGM in EU0s engagements globally. Since 2009, the campaign to end FGM has gained support of over 42.000 people who signed the petition, as well as committed over 50 members of European Parliament to advocated for the issue of FGM to be included in policies and law.

#10 Safe Hands

Safe Hands was founded in 2003 by Nancy Durrell McKenna, aw award winning film make and photographer. The primary mission of organization was to use the power of photography and film to ensure every childbirth and pregnancy was safe.

The organization’s work is driven by three areas of expertise. First, the organization works with women and girls in their communities by collaborating with leaders and service providers to educate them about the issues and develop the right messages. Second, it enables members of local communities to define and present their own stories in their voice. Lastly, the organization uses the evidence-based approach to develop knowledge and build strong programs to respond to needs of women and girls. In the area of FGM, the organization collaborates closely with Hibo Wardere, a well-known anti-FGM campaigner, who trains students, school administration and police on how to identify girls who are at risk of FGM and how to intervene. Lastly, the organization also produces documentary films based on community story-telling to raise awareness about FGM globally.

#11 Beyond FGM

Beyond FGM is an organization with a vision of a world free from genital mutilation. The mission of the organization is to work with young girls and their families, as well as African midwives, to help educate all those involved in FGM and to change their views on the issue.

The organization works with and supports the grassroots organizations in order to strengthen their social change communications to end FGM. It mobilizes partnerships with individuals, the African diaspora and national organizations by forming strong membership base with young people, the media, corporations and community leaders. The organization collects knowledge on FGM by learning from experience of its members. It also targets and advocates for inclusion of FGM as one of the main component of work by the international organizations and works on increasing commitments to ending FGM by donors. Organization’s End FGM Grants Progamme supports grassroots organizations working to end FGM in Kenya, Nigeria and the Gambia.

#12 The UN Refugee Agency

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the UN agency established to protect refugees, forcibly displaced and stateless people. Besides gathering data with regard to these vulnerable groups, the UNHCR also provides emergency assistance such as healthcare, shelter, food, clean water and similar. The organization also conducts the process of placing refugees in third countries, as well as raises awareness and conducts campaigns about the challenges they face.

UNHCR is committed to supporting global efforts to end FGM. It actively works on eliminating FGM among refugees who are placed in refugee camps and in some urban areas in countries such as Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia. The organization runs awareness programs about FGM and supports community engagement in the issue. It also provides safe houses for victims. The organization also addresses the medical consequences of FGM for women and girls and supports them in pursuing economic activities to become more empowered. It also supports the protection of women and girls who seek asylum on the grounds of FGM by working with state and civil society partners.

#13 FORWARD

Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD) is one of the leading African women led organizations that works to end violence against women and girls. The programs of the organization cover activities to end FGM as well as child marriage and domestic and sexual violence, with a goal to enable African women and girls to live healthy and equally in dignity.

In its fight to end FGM, FORWARD works with local communities to save girls at risk of FGM and supports women who were affected by this practice. It works in Africa, as well as in immigrant communities in the UK and Europe. The organization engages directly with women and men in communities to raise awareness of the risks of FGM and supports them by providing training and confidence building, which enables them to advocate for change in their communities.

#14 The Girl Generation

The Girl Generation is an African organization that acts globally and whose members share the vision that FGM can and must end in this generation. The Girl Generation serves as a platform for initiating social change and bringing together thousands of voices under one identity that challenges the social norms that hold FGM in place.

The Girl Generation supports grassroots organizations to address local contexts and strengthen their social communications to end FGM. It mobilizes partnerships with individuals, the African diaspora, and national organizations and builds the base of youth, the media, community leaders and corporations. The organization uses the vast knowledge of its members to learn about the local contexts and collects positive stories of social change across the African continent and beyond, so that everyone can hear about it. It also advocates for FGM to be mainstreamed in international, regional and national development policies. The organization also provides grants to poorly resourced grassroots organizations working to end FGM. Currently, the grants are available in Kenya, Nigeria and the Gambia.

#15 Africa Coordinating Centre for the Abandonment of FGM/C

Africa Coordination Centre for the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (ACCAF) was established in 2012 with a goal to address the gaps in ending of FGM in African region. The aim of the Centre is strengthen the capacity of research and monitor the progress of FGM abandonment and improved care for women and girls who suffer from the negative consequences caused by this practice.

The organization works through community engagement and government lobbying by engaging with the communities affected by FGM. Programs implemented by the ACCAF enable women and girls to acquire skills and gain confidence to become advocates for change. The organization provides knowledge and tools for organizations working with FGM affected communities and conducts campaigns to raise awareness about the issue. It advocates at all levels, from grassroots organizations to governments, to accelerate the end of the practice. The organization also uses its country, regional and liaison offices to drive changes in policies at all levels in the fight against FGM.

#16 Save the Children

Save the Children is one of the largest independent organizations for children in the world, working in around 120 countries. The vision of the organization is to live in a world in which every child enjoys the right to protection, survival, development and participation. The organization works directly to change ways in which world treats treat children and to achieve a long-lasting change in their lives. Save the Children works on the basis of core values that encompass accountability, ambition, collaboration, creativity and integrity.

The organization works in several countries to prevent the practice of FGM.  It organizes meetings with women and girls in local communities so they can learn about consequences of FGM and speak out against in their communities and trains health professionals to help those who were affected by the practice. The organization also provides support and employment to those who carry out FGM, so they do not have to earn from it for their livelihood. It also works with religious leaders and youth groups through which they learn about negative effects of FGM and spread their knowledge in communities through songs, poems and plays.

#17 Orchid Project

The Orchid Project is a UK based non-governmental organization that works within the global movement to end FGM. It partners with grassroots organizations around the globe and helps them to share knowledge to achieve change. It also advocates to governments to secure that work to end FGM becomes a priority.

Currently, the Orchid Project partners with grassroots organizations in Kenya, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali and India, in which FGM is a social norm in communities and one of the most effective ways to fight against is through human rights based education and allowing communities to choose to end it. The Orchid Project connects organizations and activists to share information and research to catalyze efforts to end FGM around the world. The advocacy team within the organization has shown to be instrumental in ensuring the issue of FGM is present on global platforms and as well as working with leaders and decision makers for actions to end FGM to be accelerated.

#18 FGM National Clinical Group

FGM National Clinical Group was established in 2007 to help women who have been affected by FGM and other related issues. The organization is committed to improving the lives of women and their daughters who are at risk of FGM through research and clinical networks. The FGM National Clinical group is composed of healthcare professionals, advisors and academics with a common task-to end the FGM practice.

The organization advocates for FGM to become a part of syllabus used for training midwives, nurses, obstetricians, gynecologists and other related health care workers.

#19  Plan International

Plan International is a human rights and humanitarian organization that advances equality for girls and rights of children. It works with children, young people and communities to detect the root causes of vulnerability and exclusion of girls. The organization supports right of children since they moment they were born until their adulthood and prepares them to be able to respond to crises and adversity. It uses knowledge and experience to drive changes in policies at all levels.

Plan International fights against FGM by working with community leaders, parents, governments, children and young people to transform their behavior towards the practice and raise awareness to put an end to FGM. It strives to end FGM so girls are given a choice to make decision about their own reproductive and sexual health. A key activity of the organization in the fight against FGM is giving voice to young people by involving them and empowering them to claim their rights and live more fulfilling rights.

#20 Hope Foundation for African Women

Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW) is an international non-profit organizations that works in rural areas to reduce gender inequalities through economic empowerment and promotion of sexual and reproductive health. At the top of the agenda of HFAW is gender advocacy against FGM.

To fight against FGM, HFAW works with community leaders through dialogue in various institutions. Religious leaders are particularly important since they can influence their followers who trust them. When it comes to outreach, the HFAW focuses on schools, religious institutions, markers, road shows and media to send anti-FGM messages, as well as messages on issues regarding rights of children, women rights and early pregnancies. The health promoters also hold face to face discussions within communities, during which they critically engage on gender issues and FGM.

About the author

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Ada Hasanagic

Ada Hasanagić is a human rights professional currently working as a researcher at the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previously, Ada graduated with honors from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and the University of Buckingham in the fields of Political Science and International Relations. Also, she earned a master’s degree in Democracy and Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.