The road to preparing for the 2-day event Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation (GWPF) hosts annually is a lengthy 12 plus-month affair. The plans usually begin the week following the Walk To End FGM, when GWPF submits their application to secure an October date with the National Park Service (NPS) for the next year. From the day the date is secured with NPS, the preparations are launched; the date of the Global Woman Awards is then automatically set for the Friday before Walk Day. So Friday, October 18th and Saturday, October 19th were anticipated a year ago.
For the past three years, GWPF has partnered with the Milken Institute for Public Health of George Washington University in hosting a prelude to the Walk To End FGM the evening before. Although the evening is named the Global Woman Awards, there is more than just the award ceremony. In October 2017, GWPF and Milken co-hosted a panel discussion on female genital mutilation (FGM), led by renowned Urologist and Surgeon, Dr. Pierre Foldes. Foldes is the surgeon who developed the clitoral restorative surgery, a procedure more commonly known as the “Foldes Technique”. The awards were handed out to the awardees the next day at the Walk To End FGM. The following year in October 2018, the duo of GWPF and Milken agreed on an encore, but they included the awards ceremony with the prelude evening. The theme was to dispel the myths of FGM, delivered by KARAMAH’s legal great, Dr. Azizah Y. al-Hibri, who really helped to dispel those myths last October.
Now in less than two weeks this year, Milken and GWPF are collaborating for the 3rd year in another Walk Day prelude on Friday, October 18th with a panel discussion on FGM, led by the esteemed IAC and U.N. great, Dr. Morissanda Kouyate. Joining Dr. Kouyate in this year’s panel discussion are: Rahmah Abdulaleem, Esq. of KARAMAH, Michelle Mitchell of Partners for Health, Chisina Kapungu of International Center for Research on Women, and Dr. Karen McDonnell of George Washington University. This year’s theme is “Why Laws and Policies are Important in Preventing FGM in the U.S.” The theme was selected as a special tribute to lawmakers, since six U.S. states had FGM criminalized in 2019. Leaving it for last on the program next Friday evening, but not the least is the presentation of awards to distinguished men and women.
These awardees have demonstrated their commitment and dedication to the campaign against FGM. Awardee Dr. Ghada Khan has been relentless in her work with the US End FGM/C Network. She thrives to actually make 2030 the year FGM comes to an end. Awardee Sandra Roland volunteers her free time as an attorney to help FGM Survivor Asylees file their papers for asylum in the U.S. Like Sandra Roland, Awardee Dr. Willa Jones volunteers her spare time in counseling FGM survivors to help them assimilate to normalcy in their post-FGM life. Awardee Djessou Kouyate founded and runs a successful summer camp each August for boys and girls to teach them about FGM. Awardee Maryum Saifee, a survivor of FGM uses her experience with FGM as part of her mission to help end FGM in the world. Awardee Edwige Dossou-Kitti is a graduate student who had been vigilant in raising awareness of FGM among her fellow students, friends, and professors. Awardee Monalisa Dugue is a devout advocate in helping to write legislation and policies for laws to be passed against FGM. Now for the only two male awardees: Representative Thomas Murt was diligent in putting forth the bill to have FGM criminalized in his Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His bill failed several times, but that did not stop him until he was successful this year in making his state the 34th U.S. state to make FGM illegal. Awardee Dr. Morissanda Kouyate has dedicated most of his career in advocating against FGM through his organization, Inter-African Committee (IAC). He helped champion February 6th being proclaimed as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM by the United Nations.
With the awardees and speakers confirmed, the program began to take shape, after several collaborative meetings, huddles and final decisions. At this point, GWPF finds itself going over the final checklists to ensure that nothing has been overlooked for next week Friday and Saturday. After a long year of planning and anticipation, GWPF is actually referring to the 2-day event as something that is expected to happen the following week. One would think that since GWPF has done the Walk To End FGM for the last six years, there would be no nervous encounters. But there is always a challenge that occurs to cause a sweat or two. As long as the challenge is temporary and can be corrected, the sweat is transformed to relief and smiles.
Next week’s event is expected to be a special one. Next Friday evening is not going to be coined as a “Mini United Nations” as was last year’s; however it will take on its own title and description once it is all over. Don’t you want to be a part of it and witness it yourself?
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