THE WOMAN BOSS LAUNCHES #ME2@FGM FOR SURVIVORS TO SPEAK OUT
With a mission to connect, inspire, and support women and young girls by promoting gender equity, innovation and entrepreneurial learning, leadership skills, and being a catalyst for creative action, the Woman Boss, a women empowerment organization, is collaborating with UNICEF and the UNFPA on the #Me2@FGM project.
The project is a powerful initiative addressing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It has recently produced impactful 3 to 4 minutes videos featuring survivors from all regions of the country, sharing their experiences and advocating against FGM and emphasizing the importance of legal measures.
The launch is a significant milestone in our collective commitment to ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The Woman Boss emphasizes the importance of honoring the voices of survivors who have courageously shared their experiences with this harmful practice. These women and their stories are powerful reminders of the urgency to protect women and girls from the physical and emotional scars inflicted by FGM. By amplifying these voices, they shed light on the harsh realities of FGM, encouraging respect and empathy from the public for the survivors. It is a call to action for government, policy makers, religious leaders, organizations, and our communities at-large to work together in implementing policies and initiatives that protect the rights of women and girls.
In one of the videos, an anonymous survivor gave out her testimony and the dangers she went through: “I am a survivor of FGM, when I was taken to my husband, I didn’t know that I was cut. It was my husband who told me I was infibulated so I was taken to the circumciser who used a razor to tear me open. That experience scared me so much that I couldn’t stand being around my husband for over a month”.
She further said it was a difficult moment and urged people to stop female genital mutilation because the pain attached to it is so unbearable. “For me at some point, they used clothes over my mouth to stop me from screaming due to the pain during intercourse”.
She added that if she doesn’t speak up, people won’t know the truth about the complications involved in FGM. “We must speak up to sensitize people on the dangers of FGM. I used to sit in hot water every morning to help ease the pain and heal my wounds”.
She promised that “the pain I went through, my child will never go through that pain”. She advised everyone not to let their children go through FGM as it is so painful.
Another survivor who also remains anonymous, shared her experience and the damages she was exposed to: “I was infibulated and it made me very tight and had to undergo an intentional incision during childbirth because the infibulation causes a lot of harm”. She said FGM is a harmful practice that harms women in so many ways. “The public and religious leaders are quick to say that they only cut a little and that The Gambia does not practice mutilation but they are wrong. Mutilation is the most form of FGM practiced.”
She added that The Woman Boss has taken a bold step by coming out to ask women about their complications due to FGM. Every survivor should be asked about the complications of FGM.
“The way ancestors practiced FGM was horrific. They used to cut excessively and even cut nerves that caused bleeding and even caused death. Our ancestors did not know this and associated it with witchcraft, not knowing that they cut a nerve they were not supposed to. They also infibulated us and this caused a lot of harm”.
She said infibulation also causes a lot of infections even in children as this practice is still ongoing. She went on to give an example of her 3 months old niece who was circumcised and infibulated. “They sealed her up completely and the child couldn’t urinate for two days and the child kept crying. The mother noticed that she was not urinating and was taken to the health center to remove the infibulation. If the mother was not observant, the child would have died”. She said FGM is a deep-rooted culture but a culture that harms people should not be practiced.
Awamarry Lowe-Khan, the founder and president of The Woman Boss, also urged policy makers and community leaders to listen to these women. “Listening to them, using empathy and compassion to comprehend their pain and reality. Their stories are not just narratives; they are testaments to the enduring spirit of survival, resilience, and the need to create change”.
She highlighted that The Woman Boss is a creative space for innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, and gender equity, where women and girls curate, collaborate, innovate, and grow.
She added that the Woman Boss’ goal is “to help bridge the gender gap by providing education, resources, and nurturing women and girls to have equal access to economic opportunities”.
“We provide an ecosystem of support for women and girls that fosters intellectual capital to leverage different learning platforms. We also believe that creating women bosses should start early, our leadership series ensures that women and girls have the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to be successful in their ventures and future careers”.
Fatoumatta Joof, the Program Manager for The Woman Boss, shared that the #Me2@FGM calls on the policymakers not to politicize FGM. Once they do that, women will have no voice over what happens to their bodies.
“At this point, it is getting to a stage whereby their voices are not being heard anymore, and they took an oath to protect the lives of women and girls. So protecting the lives of women and girls does not stop at putting checkpoints in police stations. It also involves the harmful practices that are ongoing,” Joof said
She urged policymakers to listen to the women and to listen to them with grace and empathy. “What we need is for them not to repeal the FGM law because once they repeal that law, it is going to be worse. We are trying to do everything that we can as advocates to make sure that we are protecting women and girls, and we want to remind them that they took an oath as well. That they will protect all, including women and girls”.
She said as they embark on this journey, “let us recognize the bravery of those who have stepped forward to share their stories. Through collaboration, advocacy, and a shared commitment to change, we can create a world where no woman or girl has to endure the physical and emotional consequences of FGM. Use the hashtag #Me2AtFGM to contribute to the conversation and build a community committed to eradicating FGM. #thewomanboss #Me2AtFGM #EndFGM #EmpowerSurvivors #ProtectWomenAndGirls #CollaborationForChange.”