If you are undecided about attending the #walk2endfgm, it is time you made your final decision – your decision should be to attend this event. There are so many reasons why you should join Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation (GWPF) on Saturday, October 27th on the Washington National Mall for education, advocacy, snacks, mingling and walking. Moreover this is the 5th year of doing this, and the crowd could not be any more interestingly diverse.
As GWPF celebrates the 5th year of the #walk2endfgm, their theme is “Dispelling the Myths and Misconceptions of FGM”. With the many misconceptions of female genital mutilation (FGM), most especially in the United States, GWPF and its speakers and supporters will collectively make an effort to dispel some of those misconceptions. The program preceding the #walk2endfgm on Saturday, the 27th is expected to educate the American public on the practice of FGM, how it can be prevented, and how survivors of it can learn to live past it.
The distinguished and carefully selected speakers of the day are Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, delivering the Keynote Address; Psychotherapist, Joanna Vergoth; Nigerian Architect, Lola Oje; FGM Survivor Activist, Mariam Bojang; and Tanzanian charismatic heroine, Rhobi Sanwelly.
Dr. al-Hibri, a Professor Emerita at the T.C. Williams School of Law of Richmond University was the first Muslim woman to become tenured at an American law school. The Founder of KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, Dr. al-Hibri was a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a Library of Congress Scholar‑in‑Residence, a Fulbright scholar and National Humanities Center scholar. She delivered what was probably the first Muslim invocation at the Virginia State Senate. She is an amazing woman whom you will most definitely want to hear what she has to say at the #walk2endfgm.
Psychotherapist Joanna Vergoth is a champion activist, dedicated to counseling survivors of female genital mutilation. She is the Founder of “Forma”, a charity organization dedicated to providing a comprehensive culturally-sensitive service to women who have experienced FGM. Joanna extends her service and expertise to hospitals, social service agencies, universities and the community, as she educates them on FGM. With Joanna taking the stage at the #walk2endfgm, this is an opportunity to hear how she helps FGM survivors live past their traumatic experiences.
Lola Oje, a Nigerian Architect is an innovative woman who took her own experience as a survivor of FGM and used it to make a difference in other young women’s lives. She counsels women on sexual and gender based violence in under-served communities in her native Nigeria. Lola is the Founder and CEO of Fosbys Environmental Service, Limited. A member of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Lola has had the honor of receiving the Netherlands Fellowship Program and the Cochran Fellowship USA for Women in Architecture. Joining her fellow distinguished speakers, Lola will travel from Ibadan, Nigeria to share her riveting story of survival with the audience at the #walk2endfgm.
Rhobi Sanwelly is popularly known in her native Tanzania as “The Tanzanian Dynamo”. Her dedication to saving girls from female genital mutilation and child marriage has earned her that title. Rhobi was the first girl in her Northern Tanzania village to pass the primary school exams to enter secondary school. With such accomplishment, Rhobi was ecstatic, only for her excitement to be crushed when her mother informed her that she would have to undergo FGM before she left for her secondary boarding school, which was 90 miles away from her village. Her story recently took her all the way to the United Nations in New York, when Rhobi testified to the General Assembly about being a survivor of FGM and the challenges advocates and activists face in trying to end FGM. Rhobi is expected to share her own story at the #walk2endfgm, and how she saves other girls from that dreadful practice back in Tanzania.
Originally from the Gambia in West Africa, Mariam Bojang holds a BA and a Master’s Degree from the University of Texas in Tyler, Texas. She is currently the Case Manager Supervisor of the Seattle Downtown Emergency Service Center. During her university years in Texas, Mariam interned with the World Affairs Council of Dallas and pro bono immigration law offices around the greater Dallas area. As a survivor of FGM, Mariam dedicates her time to raising awareness about female genital mutilation. She has shared her story with major news outlets such as the New York Times, Fox News, Al Jazeera USA’s Inside Story and several others. Mariam was a speaker at the 2015 #walk2endfgm in Washington, D.C., and is looking forward to a return to Washington this month.
The purpose of the #walk2endfgm is to raise awareness, educate the public about FGM, and to receive financial support from the supporters of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation. Female genital mutilation is the intentional removal of either all or part of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGM is a heinous and violent practice that is done to little girls between the ages of infancy and 15 years old. Although it is sometimes done at infancy, the most popular age range is between 7 and 15. Statistics show that more than 8000 girls are genitally mutilated daily around the world. If you are wondering whether it exists in the U.S., the answer is yes, it is practiced right here in the United States. According to the Population Reference Bureau, approximately 513,000 girls are currently at risk of it, or have already experienced FGM in the United States. And the World Health Organization reports that approximately 200 million girls in the world are living with the consequences of FGM.
The mission of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is to empower women and girls through education in order to eradicate gender based violence, with full concentration on female genital mutilation. The proceeds raised from the #walk2endfgm are used to support the mental and physical health of women and girls who have experienced FGM or are at risk of it – rehabilitation and prevention with support for clitoral/labia restorative surgery and counseling. In 2016 the organization raised enough to send a woman for clitoral/labia restorative surgery, and in 2017 the first woman was sent to surgery. The organization plans to send at least 2 more women in 2019 for surgery. They are also raising funds to open a service center where survivors of FGM, at-risk girls, parents and the community can come together in preventing and helping to live past FGM. Your donation and registration fee are tax deductible. Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization.
To register, you may visit their website at https://www.globalwomanpeacefoundation.org. There are various ways to register: A walker; a volunteer; a sponsor of a walker; a sponsor of the event; or register as a team, and get your friends and family to join your team. If you are unable to physically participate in the #walk2endfgm on October 27th, you can still participate by making a donation to a team of your choice on the website, and you will become a “virtual walker”. To do that, follow the same procedure to register as a walker but instead of selecting “Individual”, select “Team” and follow the instructions from there. The team that raises the most money will be awarded a first place prize. There will be 2nd and 3rd prizes for the 2 teams that raise the 2nd and 3rd most amounts.
The actual #walk2endfgm will begin at the corner of Memorial Drive and 15th Street, SW in Washington, D.C. It will continue to Constitution Avenue and 15th, passing the African American Museum, and down Constitution, passing the National World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and to the Lincoln Memorial, where it will begin the return walk to the National Sylvan Theater. On the way back to the Theater, the participants will have the opportunity to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, walking down Independence Avenue and finally back at 15th Street and Memorial Drive, SW where it will dispurse.
The organization looks forward to seeing you there, as they work together with you to help dispel the myths and misconceptions of FGM.
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