Four years ago in 2014, the Executive Director of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation submitted a proposal to its Board of Directors to host a walk-A-thon in Washington, D.C.  It was a tall proposal, considering the organization had never hosted an event of that size and type.  The purpose was to raise awareness, inform and educate the American public on the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), and its presence here in the U.S.  Angela Peabody, the Executive Director was able to successfully convince the other members to approve the event.  It was agreed that the event had to be a success in order to make it an annual affair.  The Directors debated back and forth as to what the walk-A-thon should be called.  Several names were thrown out, and they eventually voted on “Walk To End FGM”, and the planning committee began its work for their first big event.  It became a learning experience, working with the National Park Service, engaging service providers, attracting sponsors, inviting speakers and working out the required logistics.

On Saturday, November 8, 2014, a brisk morning, the “Walk To End FGM” was born on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  The members of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation shivered in the early morning but the cold was not all that caused them to shiver; they were equally nervous for the success or failure of the event.  They warmed up as participants queued in to pick up their t-shirts and give-away bags, and their guest speakers arrived.  They felt that even if fifty people turned out, they would consider it a success.  More than 250 participants turned out, and the support was phenomenal.  At their 2014 year-end meeting, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to make the walk-A-thon an annual event.

The Walk To End FGM took on a life of its own, as the organization began the promotion of the 2015 walk-A-thon.  Calls came in from people with questions about the event, and how they would register.  The process became a little easier in attracting speakers and sponsors.  The fact that they had repeat sponsors and supporters in the second year told them that people were pleased with the Walk To End FGM.  There was a much larger turnout in 2015 by women who had experienced FGM.  Inquiries came in about the possibility of the walk-A-thon being held in other cities in the U.S. as well as in countries such as Kenya and the U.K.

Last year the Walk To End FGM took another step forward when many of their partners joined them on the Washington National Mall.  The 2016 walk-A-thon was the largest to date, with participants from various countries in Europe and parts of North America.

Now Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation finds itself in preparation for the fourth Walk To End FGM, with this projected to be another big one.  This October 21st, the organization will again be joined by several of its partners on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to make their voices heard that the practice of FGM has no place in the U.S. and other parts of the world.  This year, the pre-walk ceremony has some great surprises.  The day will be emceed by WUSA’s Arielle Buchmann, who is also a member of the Board of Directors.  Virginia Senator Richard H. Black is the Keynote Speaker of the day.  Two FGM survivors will share their stories, and will tell the crowd the importance of why it is crucial for the walk-A-thon to take place.  Dr. Pierre Foldes, the renowned French Gynecologist will travel from Paris to participate in the day’s event.  Mrs. Edna Adan Ismail, the Former Foreign Minister and Former Minister of Health of the Somaliland Republic is one of the ten recipients of this year’s Award of Recognition, which is one of the highlights.  Linda Weil-Curiel, a French Attorney who prosecutes perpetrators throughout France for practicing FGM will be part of the day’s event.  Survivor and Activist, Mariya Taher, one of the co-founders of Sahiyo will be returning to Washington, D.C. for the second year to participate in the Walk To End FGM.  Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation began the tradition of recognizing women and men for their contribution toward the campaign to end female genital mutilation at the 2015 Walk To End FGM.  Participants are expected from various states around the U.S., Canada, Europe and the U.K.

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation has encouraged walk-A-thon participants to form teams and join in the fundraising efforts to support the post-FGM restorative surgeries for FGM survivors.  The three teams that raise the most amounts will be presented with first, second and third prizes.  They need your help with only less than two months to go, they are only at 4% of this year’s goal.  The pre-walk ceremony is expected to begin at 12:00 Noon, and the actual walk-A-thon will commence at approximately 1:30pm.  Participants will begin claiming their t-shirts and giveaway bags at 11:00am.  The participants can look forward to a day of excitement and awareness.  Even if you are not a walker, you will find the pre-walk ceremony of interest.  To be a part of the day, visit the site and scroll down to the pink button, Register for Walk.

If you are traveling from out of state or out of country and require overnight accommodations, the official hotel is the Tysons Corner Marriott, 8028 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Corner, Virginia 22182.  The deadline to obtain the special low negotiated rate is Wednesday, September 27, 2017.    If you call to book your hotel reservations, make sure to ask for the Global Woman PEACE Foundation Room Block rate.  If you book online, make sure you click on this link Book your group rate for Global Woman Peace Foundation Room Block to make your hotel reservations.

Look out for the continuation of weekly updates on Thursdays in September.  In October, we will provide you with weather and other advisories daily, up to Walk-Day.  We look forward to seeing you on October 21st!

Send all comments and questions about the preceding article to info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org or call (703) 818-3787.