Three 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/cutting (FGM/C), 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. In the 2014 year-end report, 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 October 31, 2015 walk-a-thon. Calls came in from people with questions about the event, and how they could 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/C. 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.
Now Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation finds itself in preparation for the third Walk To End FGM, with this one projected to be the biggest so far. This October 15th, the organization will 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/C has no place in, not only the U.S. but in the world. This year, the pre-walk ceremony has more features than the last two walk-a-thons. The day will be emceed by WUSA-TV’s Andrea Roane and WRC-TV’s Meagan Fitzgerald, the first year that the walk-a-thon has had newscasters from two major television stations participate. Speakers from a U.S. government agency, Africa Schools of Kenya, the Pastoralist Child Foundation, the Meditation Museum and two FGM/C survivors will tell the crowd the importance of why it is crucial for the walk-a-thon to take place. The Julliard composer and singer, Kristin Hoffmann will perform the special title she released at last year’s walk-a-thon, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Dr. Amelia Kemp will perform the recently release title, Leave Me Be, which she composed and recorded with fifty percent of the proceeds supporting the surgeries for women who have experienced FGM/C. One of the highlights of the day is the fourteen awardees who will receive recognition from the organization for their remarkable work against the practice of FGM/C and other injustices against women and girls. Several of the award recipients are traveling from the U.K., Switzerland, Belgium and Canada to receive their recognition awards on October 15th. Participants are expected from various states around the U.S. to join in this special event.
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 restorative surgeries for FGM/C survivors. The three teams that raise the most amounts will be presented with first, second and third prizes. The pre-walk ceremony is expected to begin at 12:30pm, and the walk-a-thon will commence at approximately 2:00pm. Participants will begin claiming their t-shirts and giveaway bags at 12:00 noon. The participants look forward to a day of excitement and awareness. To be a part of the day, register at www.globalwomanpeacefoundation.org and scroll down to the pink button, .
For overnight accommodations, the official hotel is the Double Tree by Hilton, Crystal City at 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22202. The deadline to obtain the special negotiated rate is tomorrow, Wednesday, September 14, 2016. If you call to book your hotel reservations, make sure to ask for the FGM 2016 Walk Room Block rate. If you book online, make sure you click on the link below to make your room reservations.
Look out for the weekly updates on weather and other advisories on Thursdays throughout the month of September. We look forward to seeing you on October 15th!