Part of the mandate of the Colour Sisterhood is to bring awareness and response to issues facing children, women and nations and to educate ourselves on circumstances that are close to home and perhaps far removed from our own experiences and respond with empathy and concern.
February 6 is International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and is something that at least 200 million girls and women have experienced globally. FGM includes any procedure that involves the alteration or injury of female genitalia for non-medical purposes. Almost 6000 girls still experience this daily, mostly to those between the ages of 0-15.
The practice is thousands of years old and is still a deeply entrenched cultural practice in some communities. FGM has a direct link to early marriage, as it is believed that circumcised girls have a higher chance of marrying early, supposedly protecting them from social and economic risks. FGM and early marriage can cause maternal and newborn deaths, birth complications, severe lifelong health issues, as well as intimate partner abuse. FGM also has an adverse impact on girls’ education as school is missed to recover from the trauma and medical complications. Trauma can also lead to a change in attitudes and loss of interest in schooling. As a result, fewer girls than boys are finishing their primary education, and even less attend high school.
But there is good news – the practice of FGM is declining. It is now internationally recognised as a human rights violation, and the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is a survivor-led group that is gaining momentum around the world. There is incredible work being done to bring awareness to the dangers of FGM through organisations we partner with such as Compassion, who understand that locally-led education initiatives are vital to help bring an end to the practice of FGM.
Organisations like Vision Rescue, Hillsong Africa Foundation and Watoto are also doing critical work to ensure girls have access to education, empowering them for the future because for every additional year a child spends in school, it can boost her future income by 20 per cent. Educated women are also more likely to invest in the next generation and save millions of lives according to one UNICEF study
As a Colour Sisterhood we continue to champion the rights of women and girls across our world and stand with those working to end the practice of FGM once and for all.
For more information about the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation visit un.org/en/observances/female-genital-mutilation-day
The Colour Sisterhood Team