This week, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is excited to launch the new column, An Exclusive. Every week, the column will profile a new personality in an exclusive interview. We sat down in a chat with Ms. Arielle Buchmann, the Media Director of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation. A Swiss-American Journalist, Ms. Buchmann is exceptionally passionate about making the world a better place. Her greatest passion is helping to end female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Arielle Buchmann will do whatever it takes to help raise awareness of FGM/C, and that includes entering a pageant.
GWPF: You are entering this Pageant for the second time. Is this also the Miss Maryland Pageant? If not, which pageant is this?
Buchmann: The first pageant I competed in was Miss Maryland USA. This upcoming pageant is Miss Maryland United State. It’s a different pageant system and allows you to focus a little more on your platform, which in my case is female genital mutilation.
GWPF: Obviously, you are entering the pageant to win but tell us why you are really doing this.
Buchmann: I am doing this because I want to raise awareness for female genital mutilation. The pageant will allow me to get attention for a cause that is often not discussed and not well known.
GWPF: How did you develop such passion for the work against female genital mutilation?
Buchmann: I actually had a friend very dear to me who was mutilated. Once you start meeting potential victims and survivors you realize it’s real and that it could have been you and it impacts us all.
GWPF: Should you win the title in this pageant, how will you use your title in your work against FGM/C?
Buchmann: I am hoping to use different events and engagements to talk about female genital mutilation. My plan is to go directly to schools and start by talking to children at a very young age. The children are the future and we can change their way of thinking and break culture barriers through them.
GWPF: With such a complex cause, what do you think are the best methods you would recommend to address this issue?
Buchmann: I think the key to dealing with this issue is honesty. It’s important to be honest but also to be sensitive. It’s a very sensitive topic and not something everybody is ready to talk about freely. We need to start by talking to girls, who are potential victims, so they learn early on that female genital mutilation is wrong. We need to talk to the mothers and the grandmothers and tell them they shouldn’t be doing this to their daughters and granddaughters. Most importantly, we cannot forget about the men. Yes, this issue impacts girls and women – but it’s an issue that impacts everybody. Men are just as important in this as women are. We need to keep men informed and teach them that this is wrong and that girls and women shouldn’t be treated this way. The best method in my opinion is to create an open dialogue and a safe place for victims and survivors to come and talk.
GWPF: What would you say are some of the highlights in the past year with which you were involved against FGM?
Buchmann: I would say the biggest highlight was the opening of our centers for victims and survivors. It’s a very big step and we have the only centers in the United States that offer a place for victims and survivors of female genital mutilation specifically. The Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is doing something that nobody else has done in this country and that in itself is a major deal. We still have a long way to go – but I hope and pray I will continue to be a part of this amazing journey and fight against FGM.
GWPF: What suggestions do you have to further engage civil society in the U.S. against FGM?
Buchmann: As stated before, creating an open dialogue is key. Every time I meet someone and talk to them for more than five minutes, I bring up female genital mutilation. We cannot be afraid to talk about it. We cannot be afraid to talk about it in the news, in politics or at the dinner table. People who do know about it need to open up about it and pass the message along. I think that is the only way to fight this. Also, it’s vital to have a lesson or two about female genital mutilation in our education system. That’s something we are currently working on.
GWPF: Tell us about the Pageant. Where is it being held and when? Give us the details.
Buchmann: The pageant is being held in Bethesda, Maryland at the Hilton Washington DC/Rockville Hotel & Conference Center on Feb. 6 &7. The actual pageant is on the 7th.
GWPF: How can our readers support you in the pageant?
Buchmann: The only way you can really support me is by coming out and cheering me on. If you can’t make it – positive vibes and thoughts are always welcomed!
Thank you for taking the time to read An Exclusive. We hope you have enjoyed the preceding “An Exclusive”. If you would like to see us profile someone of your choice in An Exclusive, please send the person’s name to firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask you to join us and support Arielle Buchmann at the pageant on February 7, 2016.