Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
The President of the Republic of Liberia
The Executive Mansion
August 30, 2016
Dear Madam President:
It is with greatest concern and respect for the future women of Liberia that I greet you in this unusual correspondence. I certainly trust that this letter finds you in the best of health.
I still recall the joyous day that I sat before my television here in the Commonwealth of Virginia and watched you being sworn in as the first woman to be elected President on the continent of Africa. I celebrated that day for two reasons; that my native Liberia had finally overcome a long gruesome civil war to hold elections and that Liberia had made history by electing a woman to lead that country. I knew that with a highly educated woman as the head of Liberia, female genital mutilation/cutting would no longer have a place in that society. As a woman, and a Liberian woman, I was proud as I watched you take the oath to uphold the constitution of the Republic of Liberia, and to protect the citizens of that country. With your credentials, there was no doubt in my mind that you would execute the office of the President of Liberia in the best interest of the people.
I write to you today, still in the Commonwealth of Virginia, nearly twelve years later with a heavy heart. I hold a heavy heart because Liberia is one of the three countries in Africa that continue to uphold the practice of female circumcision, now commonly known as female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). As an advocate for women and girls, I hold their interests and safety dear to my heart. I would like to know that the little girls of Liberia (our future women) are safe and protected from the vicious blade of a female circumciser.
Our organization is not at all political, and I personally have never had any interest in politics. However there are times when humanitarianism and government come together for a common goal. In this case, the goal is the protection of humanity; the innocent and helpless little girls in Liberia. They are unable to speak for themselves. They live in terror because they never know when they hear the beat of the drums in their village, if it is their turn to be taken away in the darkness of the early morning. Imagine the terror that overcomes them when they hear the deafening screams of a cousin, a playmate or a sister. They know then that they are next. It is compared to an execution queue where men are waiting to be taken away for execution, and they hear the deadly sound of the firing squad as they queue in and wait their turn.
I realize that I will come under criticisms and accusations for writing this letter to you, Madam President. I have no other motive to write this letter, other than the safety of little girls. I cannot fathom having my womanhood ripped from me when I was a child. I thank the Almighty that I was born to parents who did not uphold such practices. But because I was spared does not mean that I should dismiss the fact that little girls are being brutally stripped of their genitals and pretend that it is our culture. It is incumbent of us to teach the future generations a culture of which we are proud; not a cultural tradition that is so shameful, we have to keep it a secret. I guess you will agree with me that FGM/C is no longer a secret. The world has become far too small for such secrets to be kept. Social Media has built a bridge to connect the continents. The world now knows about FGM/C, and we will continue to educate the world about it until every little girl on this planet is safe from the vicious blade. It was only two weeks ago when a ten-year old girl in Guinea lost her life to FGM/C, and only two years ago when a thirteen-year old perished to the same practice in Egypt. Madam President, set the example for other countries.
On Saturday, October 15th this year, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation will host its third annual Walk To End FGM on the Washington National Mall. People are coming from various parts of the world to stand with us and join us in telling the excisors, circumcisers or zoes that we will no longer tolerate this heinous and archaic practice on innocent little girls. Madam President, it is not too late for you to send the same message to the zoes and circumcisers in Liberia; that you will no longer tolerate that practice. I appeal to you to ban the practice of FGM/C in Liberia. The world will applaud you, women around the world will celebrate you, and Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation will travel to Liberia and present you with a medal of honor. I promise you that I personally will travel to Liberia to present that medal to you. You may hold me to that promise, and I can only hope that you will grant me that wish to uphold my promise to you.
I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to write this letter. What a day it will be when you announce your ban on the practice of FGM/C in Liberia. What a day of celebration it will be for women around the world. And what a difference the impact will make on the lives of little Liberian girls!
Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation