Following 12 months of historic change and growing FGM awareness, UN calls for concrete action against cutting girls and women
Friday 6 February 2015
The United Nations has designated Friday a worldwide day of zero tolerance on FGM, and called for concrete action to be taken against the cutting of girls and women. This follows 12 months of historic change and growing awareness of the practice.
The Guardian launched its campaign to end FGM a year ago, joining with activists, media organisations and committed politicians to shape laws, influence policy and transform social attitudes.
In the UK it worked with Bristol student Fahma Mohamed and her colleagues at Integrate Bristol to get information about FGM into schools, gathering the support of more than 230,000 people on her Change.org petition.
Inspired by Mohamed’s petition, Atlanta resident Jaha Dukureh took up the baton in the US, lobbying the government to carry out the first prevalence study into FGM for 17 years and set up a working group to tackle the practice on American soil.
In her home country of the Gambia, Dukureh held the first youth summit to fight FGM, while also confronting her father about the practice, and meeting the woman who cut her.
In Kenya, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon gave his backing to a joint Guardian-UNFPA project that will give reporting grants to African journalists to increase the coverage of FGM and its dangers across the continent.
There was much to celebrate, thanks to tireless campaigning by local and international activists. In London, global dignitaries gathered at the Girl Summit, hosted by prime minister David Cameron, and countries pledged to tackle the issue head on. There have been setbacks too: questions were raised when a doctor was found not guilty of performing FGM in a London hospital in the first UK prosecution, and the movement lost a lifelong campaigner with the death of Efua Dorkenoo. With 130m women and girls thought to be living with FGM across the world, and prevalence rates still high in many of the 29 countries in Africa and the middle east where FGM is still carried out, campaigners still have much work to do.