Theme Statement

When the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted, estimates suggested that 133 million girls and women had experienced female genital mutilation/cutting in Africa alone. With improved data, estimates now suggest 200 million girls and women globally have been affected. If action to end FGM/C is not accelerated, an estimated 68 million girls will be cut by 2030. The COVID-19 has further impacted progress towards abandonment of FGM/C. Hearing first-hand from grassroots activists and survivors, this session will explore models of success from specific communities across different continents that have led to sustained reductions in FGM/C prevalence and have the potential to accelerate progress through broader adoption.

Agenda

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1. INTRODUCTION

A warm welcome from Tammary Escho (Director of Amref Health Africa End FGM/C Centre of Excellence)

2. MEDICALIZATION OF FGM/C

A short TED talk by Atashendartini Habsjah (Cedaw Working Group - Indonesia)

3. YOUTH LEADERSHIP

Aya Chebbi (Outgoing AU Youth Envoy), Alya Harding (EU FGM European Network), & Aissata Camara (There Is No Limit Foundation)

4. YOUTH ADVOCACY

A short TED talk by Malaika Somji (Canadian FGM/C activist)

5. SURVIVOR ADVOCACY

A short TED Talk from Maryam Sheik, (Canadian human rights activist)

6. MENTAL HEALTH AND FGC

A fireside chat with Leyla Hussein (Global Advocacy Director and Deputy Team Leader For The Africa-led movement To End FGM, Options Consultancy) & Mariya Taher (Sahiyo)

7. PERSONAL POEM

A short poem from Josephine Kiaga (Tanzanian activist)

8. CLOSING REMARKS

Closing Remarks by Carey Walovich (End FGM US Network)

TAMMARY ESHO

Director of Amref Health Africa End FGM/C Centre of Excellence, Moderator

"A Warm Welcome"

Dr Tammary Esho has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences and MSc in Human Sexuality studies from the University of Leuven, Belgium. She is a public health scientist and sexual medicine expert with specific areas of interest in generating evidence through research, programme development and implementation, policy development, capacity building, planning and implementing interventions in both family, community and health systems levels against FGM/C, sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage among others in a bid to promote public health. She is currently serving as the Director of the End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) Centre of Excellence for Amref Health Africa. Additionally, she is the current Secretary General of the African Society for Sexual Medicine as well as an Associate Member of the Africa Coordinating Centre for the Abandonment of FGM/C. She has over the last years been the principal investigator for several studies commissioned by DFID, USAID, UNJP, WHO in collaboration with Population Council, and Africa Coordinating Centre for the abandonment of female genital cutting/mutilation (ACCAF). Furthermore, she works in collaboration with a number of NGOs, civil society, community based and grassroots organisations like FIDA, DSW, ISF, Samburu Girls Foundation, among others. She is a member of several local and international professional organizations and communities of practice; Academic Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Policy (ANSER), Guidelines International Network, CoP Female Genital Mutilation, End FGM EU Network, African Society for Sexual Medicine (ASSM), International Society for Sexual Medicine (ESSM) and the Clinical Officers Council, Kenya just to name a few.

ATASHENDARTINI HABSJAH

Coordinating Head for Article 12, Cedaw Working Group, Indonesia

"Medicalization of FGM/C"

Right after she finished her Master Degree study at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) in 1980, Ibu Atas was directly engaged in several research on Maternal and Child Health in the urban slum areas of Jakarta. Her dedication for twenty years working as a full time researcher at the Atmajaya University made her becoming an activist in Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights. She was very active advocating for a Law on Domestic Violence (2004) and advocating for the adoption of a chapter on reproductive health and rights in the New Health Law which finally after 8 years enacted in 2009. For this purpose she became a co-founder of Women’s Health Foundation (WHF) which was established in 2001 with the main aim successfully having a chapter on reproductive health and rights in the New Health Law. Several research were conducted by WHF to show the Government and Lawmakers the challenges faced by women who faced unmet needs in reproductive health and rights. Showing Facts and Data were very important in order to convince the Government and Lawmakers about the magnitude of women’s health condition at that time. .

When it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights her areas of specialist interest include campaigning to reduce high levels of maternal mortality in Indonesia. She is also interested in promoting adolescent reproductive health and advocating for safe abortion services. Beside research Atashendartini was since 1994 a lecturer at the Women Studies Department of University of Indonesia.

In 2010 Atashendartini has been elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) and in 2012 has been elected as the Treasurer of the International Planned Parenthood Federation East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region (IPPF-ESEAOR) based in Kuala Lumpur. In 2014 she has been elected as a member of the IPPF Governing Council and for 3 years she attended every year in May and November the IPPF Governing Council in London until year 2017. During 20 years she attended several international conferences held by UN agencies (Beijing PFA, CEDAW, CPD) as well as Women Deliver, FP Summit, APCRSHR, etc.

In October 2018 her term as Vice Chairperson of IPPA ended, but she continued conducting research in reproductive health and rights beside lecturing at the department of gender studies of University of Indonesia. In 2011 Atashendartini established her own kindergarten for children from low-income families and became the author of several books and research reports.

AYA CHEBBI

Outgoing AU Youth Envoy

"Fireside Chat - Youth Leadership"

Ms. Aya Chebbi, a multi award-winning Pan-African feminist. She rose to prominence as a voice for democracy and shot to global fame as a political blogger during 2010/2011 Tunisia’s Revolution. She received the 2019 Gates Foundation Campaign Award and was named in Forbes’ Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women and New African Magazine List of 100 Most Influential Africans. Her story and talks have been critically acclaimed by the Guardian, Huffpost, Jeune Afrique, France24, Deutsche Welle and more.

She served as the first ever African Union Special Envoy on Youth and the youngest diplomat at the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Cabinet. In her role, she met and advocated to over 30 Heads of State and Governments and to over 160 global leaders on the youth agenda in Africa and the diaspora which resulted in policy changes continentally and globally and increase in youth appointments nationally. She has mobilized Youth Silencing the Guns Campaign which has become African Union’s largest youth campaign and main platform on Youth, Peace and Security agenda. In her role, she has also widely mobilized young women resulting in the first of its kind Africa Young Women Manifesto. She has curated the internationally acclaimed concept of Intergenerational Co-leadership and engaged millions of young people during COVID-19 pandemic, documented in the Africa Youth Lead Policy Paper.

Over the span of the past decade, she has single-handedly transformed the youth participation space across Africa and created various online and offline platforms with a holistic focus on youth and women leadership. From running an award-winning blog Proudly Tunisian and a popular Mentorship Programme Y-PHEM to building Afrika Youth Movement, one of Africa’s largest pan-African youth-led movements and Afresist, a multimedia platform documenting youth work in Africa.

She served on the Board of Directors of CIVICUS, World Refugee Council, Oxfam Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Generation Unlimited, Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, the Council of the Africa Public Health Foundation among others.

She is graduate of University of Tunis El Manar with Bachelor in International Relations, Fulbright scholar at Georgia Southern University and Mo Ibrahim Foundation Scholar for her Masters in African Politics at SOAS, University of London.

Chebbi’s extensive experience made her an influential leading voice known for rebranding Africa and commitment to peacebuilding, gender equality and Africa’s integration. Although she was blacklisted and banned from entering Egypt between March 2014 and December 2019, she continued to travel the continent organizing thousands of young people in non-violent mobilization and Pan-African activism.

ALYA HARDING

End FGM European Network Youth Ambassador

"Fireside Chat - Youth Leadership"

Alya is a 22-year-old UK-based young activist and Youth Ambassador for the End FGM European Network. She is a final year International Development student and is passionate about creating a world where girls and women are not confined to social norms but given the freedom to explore their own identities and potential. She is eager to participate in the global dialogue on VAWG issues that directly affect her community, including FGM. Alya participated in many events as an End FGM EU Ambassador including the EU 2020 Forum on the rights of the child and European Week of Action for Girls 2020. Keen to empower other voices like her own, Alya founded Valued Minds, a network supporting the personal and professional development of black and ethnic minority university students in the UK.

AISSATA CAMARA

Co-Founder, Executive VP of the There Is No Limit Foundation

"Fireside Chat - Youth Leadership"

Aissata M.B. Camara is a reliable and resourceful professional with more than a decade of program development and implementation, strategic planning, operations, and relationship management experience in local government, nonprofit, and the private sector. She uses human-centered design techniques to ensure inclusion, equity, and sustainability in organizations and communities. Aissata also has extensive experiences activating people towards achieving common objectives such as the Sustainable Development Goals. She excels in helping turn ideas into actionable steps by creating robust operations and evaluation systems. While working in leadership and management positions, she developed and implemented successful programs that impacted the lives of over 35,000 individuals, mainly women, and youth, living in extreme poverty.

Aissata is the Co-Founder of There Is No Limit Foundation, an international nonprofit organization focused on serving people living in extreme poverty, especially women, girls, and people with disabilities. She worked at The Rockefeller Foundation, Grameen America, and the Research Foundation for the City of New York. She graduated from Bernard M. Baruch College (CUNY) with a BA in International Relations and Social Policy. She went on to earn an MPA in International Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy at the New York University (NYU) Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She has received numerous awards and recognition, such as the Jo Ivey Boufford Award for Innovative Solutions to Public Service Challenges and being named a 2019 Changemaker by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Aissata is a frequent speaker and contributor at conferences and convenings such as high-level events at the United Nations. She serves as a guest lecturer at universities and colleges across the United States and around the world.

She is a member of the U.S. End FGM/C Network Steering Committee and the Forced Marriage Working Group, a core group of advocates and survivors with the energy, experience, and commitment to contribute to efforts to address the problem of forced marriage in the United States.

MALAIKA SOMJI

Co-Founder of End FGM/C Canada Network

"Youth Advocacy"

Malaika Somji is an 18-year-old youth activist from Vancouver, Canada. She first heard about female genital mutilation/cutting during a family discussion. Malaika became an #EndFGM campaigner after she heard about the film In The Name Of Your Daughter about Tanzanian girls who risk their lives to run away from FGM/C. She started with an FGM/C awareness campaign and a film screening at her school and has since participated in various awareness campaigns with the End FGM Canada Network which she co-founded when she was only sixteen. She spoke at the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver in 2019 and runs the End FGM Canada’s Instagram social media.

 

 

MARYAM SHEIK

Steering Committee of End FGM/C Canada Network

"Survivor Advocacy"

Maryam Sheik has been a human rights campaigner for decades. She has worked at the grassroots and national policy levels to combat gender based violence in Kenya. Maryam came to Canada in the fall of 2019 to save her then 9-year-old daughter Khadija from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C). Maryam herself is a survivor of FGM/C who now uses her pain to help end this human rights abuse. There was a time Maryam thought FGM/C was a religious requirement. After she met other Muslim women who were not cut she discovered that FGM/C is not an Islamic obligation. Since then she has been on a journey to pass that piece of liberating information to her community. Maryam recently received her Master’s of Anthropology from Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

 

LEYLA HUSSEIN

Global Advocacy Director and Deputy Team Leader For The Africa-led Movement To End FGM, Options Consultancy

"Mental Health and FGC"

Dr. Leyla Hussein is a psychotherapist specialising in supporting survivors of sexual abuse. She is an international lecturer on female genital mutilation (FGM) and global speaker on gender rights. She is recognised as one of the key experts on this issue globally and her work has been presented at Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Leeds, Exeter, Coventry University, International School of Geneva and many Ivy League faculties in the US Including Columbia, Harvard, Georgetown, George Washington and Pennsylvania university. Leyla was also part of the team behind the project, The Girl Generation, that focuses on the importance of the emotional wellbeing of activists in the field working with survivors of FGM. She has now shared this approach through consultations with the UN and recently presented the success of its impact at the ICPD summit in Nairobi. Leyla was awarded an Honorary Doctorate and became an associate professor at West London University from September 2018.

In October of 2020, she was elected as the Rector of the University of St Andrews, making history as the first Black woman to hold the position. She is a leading and award-winning international campaigner against female genital mutilation (FGM) and her passion is to create a safe spaces for women and girls. Leyla founded The Dahlia Project, the UK’s first specialist therapeutic service for FGM survivors. She created the ground-breaking Face of Defiance project which is a series of photographic portraits and interviews with FGM survivors. Currently a Strategic advisor and Global ambassador for The Girl Generation Movement, working to end FGM Globally.

The documentary she presented The Cruel Cut was nominated for a BAFTA. Leyla was named Cosmopolitan Campaigner of the Year 2010 and she was included in the BBC 100 Women List in 2013, Woman’s Hour Power List 2014 and Debretts 500 as one of the UK’s most influential people. She was awarded the Freedom Borough Award from Walthamstow Borough Council in April 2018. As a writer, Leyla has been published in national and international media and she regularly appears in both print and broadcast as an expert commentator on women’s rights and health. In 2019, Leyla was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for her work in tackling female gender mutilation and gender equality.

 

 

MARIYA TAHER

Co-Founder and US Executive Director of Sahiyo

"Mental Health and FGC"

Named one of six experts to watch on the issue of female genital cutting (FGC) by NewsDeeply, Mariya has worked in gender-based violence for over a decade in the areas of teaching, research, policy, program development, and direct service. In 2015, she cofounded Sahiyo, an award-winning, transnational organization with the mission to empower Asian communities to end FGC. The Manhattan Young Democrats honored her as a 2017 Engendering Progress honoree and ABC news did a special feature on her, entitled: Underground: American Woman Underwent Female Genital Mutilation Comes Forward. In 2018, Mariya received the Human Rights Storytellers Award from the Muslim American Leadership Alliance. In 2020, she was recognized as one of the six inaugural grant recipients for the Crave Foundation for Women. Since 2015, she has collaborated with the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association to pass legislation to protect girls from FGC. After starting a Change.org petition and gathering over 400,000 signatures, Massachusetts became the 39th state in the U.S. to do so. Mariya is also an extensive writer in fiction and nonfiction and has contributed articles and stories to NPR’s Code Switch, HuffPost, The Fair Observer, Brown Girl Magazine, Solstice Literary Magazine, The Express Tribune, The San Francisco Examiner, Cecile’s Writer’s Magazine, and more. She graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, where she received the Graduate School of Arts & Social Sciences Dean’s Merit Scholarship and the Lesley University Graduate Student Leadership Award. She also holds a Master in Social Work from San Francisco State University and a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara in Religious Studies.

 

 

JOSEPHINE KIAGA

Filmmaker and Student

"Personal Poem"

Josephine Kiaga is a 19 year old filmmaker who aspires to be a creative leader in Tanzania and a public advocate for her politics, particularly human equality and equal opportunities for women in Tanzania through film making and creative arts.

 

 

CAREY WALOVICH

U.S. End FGM/C Network's Operations & Partnerships Manager

"Closing Remarks"

Carey Walovich is the U.S. End FGM/C Network's Operations & Partnerships Manager. She manages the day-to-day operations of the Network as well as the vital relationships, collaborations and projects with members and stakeholders.
Carey’s previous work has been in maternal and child health, working internationally with the Fistula Foundation to improve access to obstetric fistula repair surgery in low-resource settings, and track cesarean delivery trends at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh. She has also worked domestically to create lactation spaces in public universities with Creating Space. Carey received her Master in Public Health in 2019 from the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA where she specialized in population and reproductive health, and received her B.A. in Politics from St. Mary’s College of California.