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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Eliminating FGM: Questioning the advocacy methods

 The first being, if young people have taken it upon themselves to end the practice of FGM within a generation as highlighted in the theme of the conference, what new methodology has been worked upon to make this a historical success? And the second relates to the combination of the theoretical and the practical to ensure that there are no overlapping loopholes that would lead to the falling apart of the movement. 


It’s known that advocacy and sensitisation are tools we use to make known the issues we wish to adopt or curb in our societies. The successes of our various campaigns will be reflected in how the masses embrace whatever we are calling to. We can’t measure our triumphs by how much of literatures, billboards or conferences we offered on the issue. Sadly, it seems we have focused too much on those means and forgotten the end. And this is especially true with regard to the fight against FGM.


The fact that the anti-FGM movement is dealing with realities that have both feet firmly grounded in religion and culture, makes it the more complex. However, the recent conference which was more of an intensive meeting of experienced and seasoned activists and brilliant young people is a move in the right direction. There is a need for home-based scholarly research materials and advocacy tools that are compatible with our local reality. And this starts with asking those very obvious questions.


Why is it that after a long time of advocacy against FGM, it still persists with such intensity? Some months back, this newspaper ran a story on a leading female circumciser in Lamin who vowed that she will never stop the act. When such sentiments are still rife we must ask the most pertinent questions regarding it all. What went wrong actually with the whole process of trying to eliminate FGM and other harmful cultural practices?


Seriously, it’s about time we start asking these questions: How to evaluate the ways and means used to advocate for the ending of FGM; how to further engage religious leaders and prominent figures from all walks of life to help in spreading the word. 


Conferences, seminars and workshops will help a lot, however, we need to move beyond that and decentralise the message. Imams and church leaders need to make it a point to deliver sermons on this issue.  Religion still has a strong influence in our land and the foremost duty of every religious leader is to be a good shepherd for his flock and lead them to good pasture. So if FGM is still strong in our societies then that means the shepherds have really not been working hard enough towards that end.


Reflection and evaluation of strategy should be urgently employed if we are to register more progress and finally kick out this harmful practice. We have come this far and we ought not return to where we came from. The movement should really make that move so the harm won’t spread to places where the knives have been dropped. Otherwise this is the duty of anyone, not only those advocating for its end.  It’s the responsibility of all who want to make the world a better place for the girl child. It is a sacred duty endowed on us by God to protect the vulnerable and weak. And this is just that, to end the mutilation once and for all.


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