February 6 was International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. This day was first introduced by the United Nations in 2003 to raise awareness on the cruel practice and eradicate it. Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM/C for short, is a practice involving the partial or complete removal of the clitoris and/or external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
There are four types of FGM/C, all which are harmful and reap zero benefits. According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million women and girls worldwide have been subjugated to this brutal form of torture. The justifications behind FGM range from 'religion' (hint: no religions require or encourage FGM/C) to the need to assert dominance over female sexuality.
While the practice is all too common in many parts of the world, there is hope amidst it all. Many people recognize the evil that is FGM/C and are working to rid the world of this heinous practice. Here are 10 organizations that are fighting FGM/C that deserve our full support.
Sahiyo is a non-profit dedicated to eliminating FGM/C in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Founded in 2015, the group's mission is to empower communities to fight FGM/C and to foster a society that champions women's rights, recognizes the necessity of consent and embraces female sexuality as healthy and natural. The group's website includes testimonies from survivors, resources for survivors and allies, links to petitions and media training tools for professionals looking to cover FGM/C.
The Orchid Project is a catalyst non-profit based in the UK. The project partners with grassroots organizations across the globe in effort to combat FGM/C and to create a world free of the practice. The group currently operates in countries where FGM/C is all too common, such as Gambia and Senegal.
Activists partnered with the organization work with community liaisons to educate practitioners and community members on the dangers of the ritual. The group is also passionate about advocacy work and pressuring government officials to pass legislation against FGM/C and ensuring that women and girls aren't subjugated to it.
WeSpeakOut is a non-profit group that strives to empower FGM/C survivors in all spheres of their lives. The organization was founded in 2015 by a group of Dawoodi Bohra Muslim women. WeSpeakOut has launched several campaigns to combat FGM/C in Muslim communities, such as My Voice Against Khafz/FGM, where survivors share their stories audibly, and Not My Daughter, a campaign where men pledge to do their part to stand up for the women in their lives and speak out against FGM/C.
The Dessert Flower Foundation was founded in 2002 by Somali supermodel and activist Waris Dirie. The organization has "declared war on this cruel ritual" and has campaigned to save millions of women and girls all over the world from FGM/C.
Since its inception, the group has launched a number of campaigns to fight the practice, including the Desert Flower Sponsorship Program aimed to help at-risk girls, the Desert Flower Education Initiative and numerous Desert Flower Centers opened throughout Europe to support survivors.
The group also supports survivors through mental health services and hospital treatment. The foundation's goal is to educate and raise awareness about the practice globally and work to create a world free of FGM/C.
Daughters of Eve is a non-profit aimed at protecting women and girls who are at-risk for FGM/C. The group provides psychological services and educational resources on the dangers of FGM/C. The group also recognizes FGM/C as gender-based violence and is working to combat it through education, support, resource distribution and reproductive health prioritization. The group also offers holistic health resources to young people.
28 Too Many is an England based charity organization specializing in research on FGM and working to provide tools and resources to end the practice in countries where it is heavily practiced. Founded in 2010, the organization provides accessible data on how common the practice is and where it is most prevalent.
The group also work with community organizers to raise awareness on the practice, distribute educational material on the harms of FGM/C and engage with 'key influencers,' such as politicians and lobbyists, to pass legislation that protects women and girls from FGM/C. Overall, the group is dedicated to elimination of FGM/C through data and education.
Safe Hands is a non-profit founded in 2003 by filmmaker Nancy Durrell McKenna. The group's original mission was to document childbirth on film as a way to ensure that women could have safe deliveries. The group has campaigned against FGM by using evidence-based research to create programs that'll educate people on the harms of FGM/C and why it shouldn't be practiced. The organization has also collaborated with Hibo Wardere, a Somali anti-FGM campaigner who trains people on FGM/C intervention. The group also documents the stories of survivors to raise awareness on the practice globally.
The Girl Generation is a non-profit, African-led organization with a mission to end FGM/C in our generation's lifetime. The group is made up of members, partners and grassroots organization under the banner of fighting FGM/C. The organization also partners with those of the African diaspora to spread awareness on the practice and to mobilize youth in leading anti-FGM/C initiatives. The group also provides grants and resources to underfunded organizations that are fighting FGM/C in marginalized communities.
Beyond FGM is a UK-based charity organization working with grassroots organizations in Kenya to eradicate FGM/C. The organization was founded by Midwife and anti-FGM/C campaigner Cath Holland. The organization collects data on FGM/C and shares the testimonies of survivors with the hopes of educating people and empowering others to come forward with their stories.
The group also runs an End FGM Grants Program that supports anti-FGM/C grassroots organizations in Nigeria, Kenya and Gambia. Overall, the organization's mission is to educate people on the dangers of FGM/C and to work towards living in a world free of the practice.
The World Health Organization is a special UN agency overseeing international public health. Established in 1948, the agency's main purpose is to focus on global health issues and to ensure all people receive the highest possible level of health. The WHO also works to fight FGM/C.
In 2008, the agency passed a resolution to eliminate FGM/C in order to grant women and girls all over the world agency and autonomy over their own bodies. The WHO fights FGM/C by advocacy, policy, distribution of resources, education and training to medical professionals, activists and other leaders.