5 Ways Young People Can Help End FGM
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"'It is not enough to tell people that FGM is illegal,' says FGM victim-turned-activist Gladys Kiranto. Changing laws is essential, but as FGM is often a deeply embedded cultural tradition in communities, large-scale education about why it is harmful is needed to effect major social change."
When we hear about organizations working towards a change for the better, we think that we cannot do anything to help because we lack the money, time, resources, or power to do anything significant. However, I have realized that simply being aware of these issues and being able to communicate to others about them makes all the difference, especially with the prevalent use of social media. This is exactly how I felt after coming across girleffect.org, a website dedicated to providing girls with the resources to “end poverty for themselves, their families, their communities, their countries, and the world” (girleffect.org) After having learned about FGM and how I can help, I was inspired to continue the spread of awareness and inspire others to take action also.
But first, what is FGM? FGM stands for female genital mutilation, which is the cutting of any part of the female genital organs for non-medical reasons without anesthetics. FGM had traditionally been an essential ritual for adolescent girls, acting as a way to protect and validate a girl's virginity to her future husband. However, FGM is not only a dangerous practice due to the lack of sanitary equipment and sterilizing procedures but also a violation of human rights as these young girls are often forced into the procedure. However, according to a video compiling the information on FGM by Priyanka Pruthi, "UNICEF offers a report that support for the practice is declining even in countries where it remains widespread" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pjy8jRRGHcU).
According to the article “FGM Has No Place 2014. Here Are 5 Ways You Can End It” there are five ways you can take action against FGM and put an ends to it for good. The first being to “end the FGM taboo” and “realize that FGM is not limited to the developing world”. I was surprised also to realize that hundreds of thousands of girls in the UK were also victims of FGM despite its being a criminal offense. By being aware of the reality and severity of FGM, you are supporting the movement to its end. You can achieve this by signing petitions and learning by watching films and reading articles or first-hand accounts.
Second was to “help change the law” because not much can be done without laws supporting movements and protecting against FGM, legislation must be created and enforced to enable progress. You can take action by selecting a campaign on the organization Equality Now's website and sending letters online.
Third was supporting community education because without the support of a community, legislation alone cannot end FGM. Tostan's Community Empowerment Program has been educating communities to stop FGM. Because it has been successful in convincing over 6,500 communities in 8 countries, you can take action by fundraising or volunteering with them to increase these numbers.
Fourth was to “fully understand FGM”. As I have stated before, simply being aware of the issue is the most important step to taking action against it. The website lists names of books that provide information and raise awareness of FGM that you can read and encourage other to read in order to spread the message.
And last but not least, the fifth step is to “use the power of social media”. The article encourages you to share the statement “ I'm calling for an end to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting” on social media for International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM.
In an era where news can be reported the moment it happens, the power of the individual has increased incredibly. Do not doubt that your words or actions can make a difference because by joining other people working towards the same goal as easily as going on Facebook or Twitter to post and article or simply state your opinions, you have the power to connect with hundreds and thousands of other people at once. Therefore I encourage you to take whatever small action you can to support the movement to end FGM.