Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation held their third annual Walk To End FGM on Saturday, October 15, 2016 on the Washington National Mall near the Monument. The event was well attended by women and men alike from various places in the United States and the rest of the world.
The afternoon began as volunteers in pink shirts gathered at the National Sylvan Theater as they dispensed give-away bags, purple t-shirts, bottle water, granola health bars, fresh bananas and jars of homemade jam, provided by sponsors such as Giant Food, Coca-Cola, Natura Foods, Costco and Panera Bread.
The distinguished emcees of the day were Andrea Roane of Washington’s Television CBS Affiliate, WUSA 9 and Meagan Fitzgerald of Washington’s Television NBC Affiliate, WRC-TV 4.
Delivering the Keynote Address was Susan L. Masling of the U.S. Department of Justice. Masling told the crowd that female genital mutilation/cutting is a federal crime in the United States; and although only twenty-three U.S. states have passed state laws against the practice of FGM/C, it is still a federal law in all fifty states in the United States. While she educated the attentive crowd on the laws in the U.S. against this heinous practice, she outlined the accomplishments the U.S. has made in recent years against FGM/C. Masling continued to remind the walkers that it is also unlawful to remove a child from U.S. soil and take her to another country with the intention of performing female genital mutilation/cutting on them. She also stressed that FGM/C is a form of child abuse, according to U.S. law, and it must be treated as child abuse. Susan Masling acknowledged the work Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation does against the practice of FGM/C, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Other speakers were the Founder of Africa Schools of Kenya, Teri Gabrielsen and the President of the Pastoralist Child Foundation, Sayydah Garrett, both of whom do a great deal of work in Kenya and here in the United States against FGM/C.
On the program were two young women who survived the practice of FGM/C when they were little girls in their native countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Aisha Kamara began by pointedly sharing that she was born right here in Washington, D.C. and later taken to her parents’ country of origin, where she underwent FGM/C. Her riveting story left the crowd flabbergasted, when she told how her husband left her because he was unable to understand her psychological trauma as a result of FGM/C. She shared how Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation has helped her through counseling, and now she is able to stand before hundreds to tell her story without shedding tears.
Sando Sherman-Adetunji, a product of the Liberian Sande Bush Society shared her own story and shared how FGM/C has affected her adult life. She shocked the crowed when she asked, “Has anyone ever questioned what they do with the genitals they cut off the girls?” Sando responded to her own question, when she disclosed to the crowd that the Sande Bush in Liberia cooks the cut genitals and feeds it to them, and that the excisers themselves eat the parts. The audience gasped as Sando denounced the act and called it blatant cannibalism.
Singers Kristin Hoffmann and Dr. Amelia Kemp perform songs they had composed and recorded for Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation to help raise awareness about female genital mutilation/cutting. The crowd was on their feet, holding hands as Hoffmann performed the Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. song, which the organization calls their anthem.
Prior to starting the 5K Walk, President and Vice President of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, Angela Peabody and Amie Jallah took the stage to present award recognitions to several women and a man for the work they have done in the past against FGM/C. Receiving awards were Susan Gibbs, Sherelle Carper, Susan Masling, Diane Walsh, Hilary Burrage, Elisabeth Wilson, Godfrey Williams-Okorodus, Missy Crutchfield, Sando Sherman-Adetunji, Andrea Roane, , Kristin Hoffmann, and teenager, Amani DeShield.
The organization set out early in 2016 to raise Ten Thousand Dollars to help cover the costs of restorative surgeries for FGM/C survivors. The teams exceeded the goals they had set and helped push the organization over their goal for 2016. There will be several young women going to have the restorative surgery between 2016 and early 2017. First, second and third prizes were awarded to the three teams that raised the highest amounts. Consolation prizes were awarded to the 4th and 5th runner-ups, provided by Panera Bread.
The 2017 Walk To End FGM date has already been set for Saturday, October 21, 2017. Mark your 2017 calendars and save that date to join Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation in another Walk To End FGM.