(From the Blog Post of Hilary Burrage)
By Hilary Burrage
The 2017 Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation (GWPF) Walk-A-Thon to End FGM is in Washington DC on Saturday 21 October. (Register here.) In 2016 I was thrilled to be made an GWPF Awardee, and in 2017 perhaps more delighted still by an invitation to join the newly established on-going GWPF Awards Committee. It was incredibly difficult to select our nominations in each of the awarding categories, but listed below are those eventually named for 2017, along with the names of 2015 and 2016 Awardees.
The newly created Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation Awards Committee has as members Angela Peabody, who leads the entire GWPF movement, Amie Jallah (as Chair) from the GWPF Board, plus three previous awardees: Diane Walsh, Elisabeth Wilson and me. Our deliberations were difficult, as we considered the enormous contributions made by a number of people to the task of ending FGM; I was privileged indeed to be working with my committee colleagues on identifying those who would receive acknowledgement in each of the categories the GWPF Board had agreed.
The categories of the awards are Advocacy, Political, Survivor/Activist, Education/Training, Literary, Legal, Medical/Health, Media and Student Ambassador.
The Walk-A-Thon to End FGM in Washington DC on 21 October 2017 is an event which all who can and should register to attend, and which those who cannot join us may wish to sponsor. Funds raised will be dedicated to offering women who have had FGM support, both medically and socially, and to campaigns to stop FGM from harming any further generations of girls and young women.
.Award winners for 2017 are:
Advocacy: Arifa Nasim – founder of Educate2Eradicate, which provides staff safeguarding training and workshops for students on the subject of FGM, Forced Marriage and Honor Based Violence. She has represented E2E at the United Nations when she was the Official U.K. Youth Delegate to the UN. But more importantly she has been able to get into schools and train teachers on how to spot the signs of these harmful practices.
Political: Senator Richard H Black – introduced a bill against FGM in February 2017 to the Virginia General Assembly to criminalize FGM. He was vigilant and instrumental in getting the Virginia General Assembly to unanimously pass the bill in March 2017 and the Virginia Governor signed the same bill in April 2017. As a result, the law in Virginia is effective on July 1, 2017. Senator Black is also the Keynote Speaker at the 4th Walk To End FGM on October 21, 2017. For additional information on Senator Black, visit the GWPF Speakers’ Page. He is the GWPF Keynote Speaker this year.
Survivor / Activist: Mariya Taher – has worked in the gender violence field for nearly nine years. Her Master in Social Work in 2010 involved a qualitative study, “Understanding Female Genital Cutting (FGC) in the United States.” She has since focused on domestic violence at W.O.M.A.N., Inc., Asian Women’s Shelter, and Saheli, Support and Friendship for South Asian Women and Families, and The Women’s Foundation of California. Currently working with the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association to criminalize FGC/M, in 2015, she co-founded Sahiyo, a transnational organization to empower Asian communities to end FGC. Amongst other distinctions the Manhattan Young Democrats honored her as a 2017 Engendering Progress honoree.
Education / Training: Edna Adan Ismail – one of the most influential women in Africa today. She is a talismanic figure whose life and work are an inspiration to people all around the world. Her long career in public life, which has seen her making lasting contributions in the fields of health, peace building and foreign affairs, has been marked by an exceptional devotion to advancing the cause of women. She is the former Foreign Minister of Somaliland Republic. She held this office from 2003 until 2006, and had previously served as Somaliland’s Minister of Family Welfare and Social Development. She is the director and founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa and an activist and pioneer in the struggle for the abolition of female genital mutilation. She is also President of the Organization for Victims of Torture.
Literary: Tobe Levin Freifrau von Gleichen – a multi-lingual scholar, translator, editor and activist, founder and owner of UnCut/Voices Press. She is most known for combining her advocacy against FGM with her academic scholarship in comparative literature. Her most notable works to date are Empathy and Rage. Female Genital Mutilation in African Literature and Waging Empathy. Alice Walker, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and the Global Movement to Ban FGM.
Legal: Linda Weil-Curiel – a French attorney and human rights activist who campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM) and plays a vital role in the prosecution of perpetrators throughout France. She has played a leading role in La Commission pour l’Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles (CAMS). This is in stark contrast to France, where Linda Weil-Curiel has developed a successful strategy for tackling FGM through the courts. Linda has succeeded in prosecuting more than 100 parents and ‘cutters’ through the French courts. This coupled with education and publicity has reduced the number of new incidents of FGM in France and also the number of girls taken abroad for the purposes of FGM. She has also been involved in setting up clinics to repair some of the damage caused by FGM. Linda Weil-Curiel is a respected international voice on this issue, who has appeared before Parliamentary committees to explain and advocate the French approach.
Medical / Health: Dr Pierre Foldes and Ms Frederique Martz – Dr Foldes is a Surgeon Urologist, and a member of “Médecins du Monde” since 1978. He developed and promoted the surgical technique to restore the damage done during the ritual excision of female genital mutilation. Dr. Foldes has conducted research on the anatomy and physiology of the human clitoris since 1991. He has headed special surgical missions in Africa and Asia. His first publication on the surgical technique was in 2003, and he has since released 6 additional publications to date. He has administered 5,500 surgical cases of FGM and provided 15,000 consultations since 2004.
– Frédérique Martz coordinated the actions of an organization of liberal female doctors for a decade. Frédérique Martz now assures the direction of the Institut en Santé Génésique, with a multidisciplinary team of 21 professionals (infirmaries, doctors, jurists, lawyers, psychologists). She initiated and organized the colloquium “At the Heart of Violence: When Women Start Talking” on November 13, 2015. She was elected Ashoka Fellow in 2015.
Media: Maggie O’Kane – an award-winning Irish journalist and documentary film maker, until recently multimedia editor of investigations at The Guardian, and now director of the Global Media Campaign to End FGM. She was previously the editorial director of Guardian Films, the Emmy award-winning film company which specializes in investigative films for the Guardian website and British and international TV. A former foreign correspondent with the Guardian, Maggie has covered most of the world’s major conflicts over the last decade. Her awards include British Journalist of the Year and Foreign Correspondent of the Year.
Student Ambassador: Adama Diaby – currently a senior at Democracy Preparatory Charter High School. Adama discovered female genital mutilation and cutting last year, through Sanctuary for Families, a New York based organization. Adama is in a program at Sanctuary for Families, which was developed by Ms. Diallo with a few West African girls, including Adama. The program trains the girls in ways to approach women and girls who have experienced FGM/C, and how to inform the public on this issue that is ruining the lives of many young girls.
Full details of each of these Awardees can be found on the GWPF website.
Previous Awardees are:
Artistic Advocacy – Godfrey Williams-Okorodus – For
Student Ambassador – Amani DeShield – For Being the First Middle School FGM Student Ambassador for GWPF
Education – Sarah Sisaye – For Continuing to Advocate Education of FGM in the US
Survivor Activist – Yatta Donsii
Medical – Dr. Marci Bowers
Legal – Shelby Quast
Leadership Advocacy – Fatoumata Kande
Leadership Advocacy – Martha Allen
Survivor Activist – Jaha Dukurah (The Gambia)
Survivor Activist – Aissata Camara (Guinea)
Survivor Activist – Eva Flomo (Liberia)
Survivor Activist – Annie Wright (Liberia)
Survivor Activist – Hibo Wardere (Somalia)
Survivor Activist – Francess Cole (Sierra Leone)
Donor Advocacy – Lisa Bruch