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City of Banjul
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

UN sec gen backs campaign to end FGM in Gambia, others

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To this end, he announced at the UN headquarters in Nairobi five international FGM reporting grants –  co-funded by the UN and the Guardian – which will see key journalists in Kenya focus on FGM in an attempt to eradicate the harmful practice within a generation while expressing hope the initiative will be replicated across the continent.

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“I am delighted to be here at the launch of this Global Media Campaign against FGM. It recognises the critical role of media around the world in adding their voices and reach to help end FGM in a generation. With its anti-FGM campaigns in the UK, US, The Gambia, and now Kenya, The Guardian has demonstrated its commitment to bringing an end to this brutal practice. I commend the Kenyan Government for intensifying its efforts to end FGM. Change can happen through sustained media attention on the damaging public health consequences of FGM, as well as on the abuse of the rights of hundreds of thousands of women and girls around the world.

“Not only do we hope to support the Kenyan media in bringing the issue of FGM to national and global attention, but we hope to create a media model that can be reproduced in other countries. The mutilation of girls and women must stop in this generation – our generation. In the UK, where over 20,000 girls are at risk of FGM, activist Fahma Mohamed secured a commitment from the government to write to all schools warning about the dangers of the practice. I was delighted to be able to meet her in London earlier this year.”

He added: “In the US, where risks are similarly high in certain diaspora communities, a Guardian campaign led by FGM survivor Jaha Dukureh led the government to promise to carry out the first national survey on FGM prevalence. In both cases, sustained public pressure – which media support helped generate – brought about concrete results. I look forward to engaging with media outlets across Africa and beyond on how to report on this issue better and draw attention to its devastating impacts. Ending FGM is part of the UN’s unwavering campaign for the health, human rights and empowerment of women and girls .We salute the girls and women who have fought against FGM and reclaimed their bodies. We now need them to be the norm rather than the exception.”

Ban also announced a reporting award will be granted annually to an African reporter who has demonstrated innovation and commitment in covering FGM. The winner will spend two months training and working in the Guardian’s head offices in London. The award is named after Efua Dorkenoo, who campaigned against FGM for 30 years before her death earlier this month, and headed up the Girl Generation consortium.

Reacting to the development, Gambia-born US-based anti-FGM campaigner Jaha Dukureh said: “I am excited and happy about the progress we are making on the issue of FGM.

This would help my campaign by giving journalist the tools they need to do their work to the best of their capability. I think it will show it as a pan-African thing rather than western influence. The fellowship is for African journalists. The fellowship will include a trip to London. It’s a huge progress. We have been talking about it but I didn’t realise it would be this fast”.

The coordinator of the Guardian’s media campaign to bring an end to the practice, Maggie O’Kane, said: “About five years ago we began an investigation into allegations that British/Somali girls were being mutilated both in the UK and back in Somalia during the holidays. Hearing the stories of these young women had a profound impact on all of us working on the story – some of us mothers of daughters ourselves. Other films followed and we worked with a number of incredibly inspirational young women and to help develop an alternative ceremony that doesn’t involve mutilation. But despite all our films and journalism we realised to end this quickly we needed to work with progressive media houses around the world to find a way of hastening the end of FGM; to find between us ways of using not just 21st century journalism but modern digital social media, vernacular radio, drama, posters- whatever it takes to end FGM.”

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