#YouthForChange kicks off its pledge to help end FGM and child marriage at the UK Parliament
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Earlier this month, I, along with 4 other young people from the #YouthForChange Panel, attended a Parliamentary reception to help kick start talk about ending female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) in the run up to the Girl Summit being hosted by David Cameron.
To begin there were speeches from the Speaker of the House, Home Secretary Theresa May, Secretary of State Justine Greening and MP Bill Cash. These were followed by speeches from Aneeta Prem (the founder of Freedom Charity), Julia Lalla-Maharajh (the CEO and founder of Orchid Project) and Anita Tiessen (from UNICEF)
The speakers talked about the harmful practices of FGM and CEFM, the new laws and initiatives that have been put into place to combat the practices and the Girl Summit on July 22nd. All of them spoke about how big an issue FGM and CEFM both are internationally, but at the same time called upon people to realise that FGM and CEFM are also rife within the UK – not only a problem thousands of miles away, but something that happens on our doorstep, thus we should be making an effort the end the issue here too.
Our #YouthForChange event was mentioned by Justine Greening. She spoke of the important role young people can play and urged MPs to nominate young people in their constituencies and support them to attend the youth event.
After the talks we had the chance to talk to Justine Greening, Lynne Featherstone and Julia Lalla-Maharajh. They were all very interested in the #YouthForChange event and the ways in which we were approaching it. We talked about the youth panel and how we've organised ourselves and the proposed structure and outcomes of the event itself.
Justine highlighted the importance of allowing us to ‘do our own thing’ and have responsibility over the event, and she believed young people were key to solving these issues.
Julia seconded this and talked about the idea that FGM and CEFM are both major problems in areas like East Africa due to the fact that they are deemed as social norms: they are seen as acceptable practices and if it was not to happen then girls would be judged and looked down upon. She compared the problem to foot binding in China: it took 10 years to break that social norm, so clearly it is not impossible to break this one.She also said it is important to target young people on this issue because they are the generation who will grow up and shed themselves and others of these expectations.
To find out more about how you can get involved to help end FGM and child, early and forced Marriage