Young people from all over the world have been speaking up, pledging to make their generation the one that ends FGM. As part of this, they are calling on peers, parents, politicians and leaders from their communities and religions to join them in talking about the issue.
The campaign launch follows the first ever pan-African Youth Summit on ending FGM, organised by The Girl Generation, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya in April this year. Over 100 young activists from 17 countries developed their strategy to mobilise leaders and communities to take action.
Oumie Sissokho, End-FGM Youth Activist, The Gambia, said;
"I am a survivor of female genital mutilation and am a living testimony of the harm it causes…That's why I am working endlessly, tirelessly, to ensure that the right people are speaking out against FGM, changing mindsets and attitudes so that we will be able to end it in a generation."
To encourage discussions, young Africans are posting videos on social media to raise awareness of FGM and inspiring others to show their support. Videos posted to social media, include hashtags such as #Ihavespoken and #EndFGM which are seeking to break the silence that surrounds the issue.
Dr Faith Mwangi-Powell, Global Director of The Girl Generation said;
"Today marks a momentous day in the global movement to end FGM. We’re so excited to watch this movement grow from the minds of young activists in Africa to a million voices all around the world.
"These young people are taking action by shattering the silence that surrounds FGM. By inviting and inspiring others to join the movement, they take a giant leap forward towards creating a world that is safer for our girls".
According to UNICEF's 2010 study on the dynamics of social change towards the abandonment of ending FGM in five African countries, the media, as well as traditional forms of communication, are powerful tools to bring about social change.
Lessons from the UNICEF study concluded that the culture of silence around FGM allows the practice to continue. People’s reluctance to talk about FGM means that laws alone cannot end the practice. This campaign hopes to powerfully break the cycle of silence, encouraging everyone to play a part by speaking out and taking action.
Moussa Drame, Seneglese activist and journalist said;
"I am proud to play my part in the global movement to end FGM. By speaking out, we have a huge opportunity to break the taboos that surround FGM and help others better understand the issue…by talking about FGM, we will ensure that future generations do not carry out the practice."
The campaign is supported by The Girl Generation, the world’s largest Africa-led global collective of partners brought together by the shared vision that FGM can, and must, end in this generation. The Girl Generation has been working closely with its End FGM Youth networks to help design and launch the campaign. Together, the aim is to break the silence, grow support for their movement and unlock resources and policy commitments to end the practice, inspiring over 1 million people to speak out and act to end FGM.
Progress is being made, efforts to end FGM are being led from within affected communities and countries, and thousands of communities across Africa have already decided to abandon the practice. Today, a girl is about one third less likely to undergo FGM than 30 years ago. However, global efforts to abandon the practise need to take place further and faster, because population growth means the number of girls undergoing FGM will continue to increase.