FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons that result in a lifetime of physical, psychological and emotional suffering. It is a human rights violation and an extreme form of gender inequality. Though reasons behind the practice differ greatly, it is often done to preserve virginity until marriage, to decrease a woman’s sexual desire, to signal a rite of passage into womanhood, or to prepare a girl for marriage. At the heart of this issue lies the human rights of girls and young women to lead healthy and empowered lives in control of their own bodies, and as active members in society. We will not have achieved SDG Goal 5 (Gender Equality) without ending this practice.
In January 2020 The Youth Power Panel was announced by The Youth Power Partnership. The global panel has come together to support youth activism, strengthen and unite our collective efforts to make the Global Goals a reality. This is a task force of young people which brings together leaders, innovators, activists, and survivors together with one goal to mobilise young people across the Global to bring about urgent action on the Sustainable Development Goals.
I am truly honored to have been Selected as a Youth Power Panelist. My commitment is to use my time, skills, experience, influence and network to support young people across the globe in realising, among others, SDG Goal 5 (gender equality). That means accelerating efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation in one generation—before 2030.
FGM is a global practice transcending cultural, religious, and political boundaries. It is prevalent in over 40 countries, primarily in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, though it is also practiced in Europe, the Americas, and Australia. Globally, more than 200 million women and girls have undergone FGM, and over 68 million more are at risk every year.
Progress is being made, efforts to end FGM are being led from within affected communities and countries, the campaign is being led by young people. Today, a girl is about one third less likely to undergo FGM than 30 years ago. However, global efforts to abandon the practice need to take place further and faster, because population growth means the number of girls undergoing FGM will continue to increase.
The 2020 International Day to End FGM theme is Unleashing Youth Power: One Decade of Accelerating Action for Zero FGM by 2030. We must work with young people if we want to end FGM. The following three areas are essential to making that work meaningful and effective;
Building effective participation of youth is essential to amplifying their voice to reach communities, and it is necessary to build their skills and knowledge around FGM.
We should invest in young people’s innovative ideas to end FGM. Basically putting money where our mouth is.
We must support the creation of enabling environments for youth to engage, understand, share knowledge, and to have open dialogues about their understanding and experience of FGM
Everything Counts! What you DO Counts! We are almost 1/3 of the way to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.Progress is not fast enough. Ambition is not high enough. Action is not Bold enough. I believe that it is in our best interest to stand up and lead the charge in this last lap towards the Global Goals. The Global Goals are our shared vision and collective responsibility to build a more peaceful and sustainable world. We must make this a decade of action.
Natalie is a youth & women’s advocate, girls rights activist, founder & executive director of Msichana Empowerment Kuria is a women-led community based organization in rural Kenya.
She is passionate about girls’ rights to end poverty and reduce inequality by addressing Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. She partners with girls, their communities and stakeholders to advance Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights as Human Rights, build the agency for girls to demand for them through girl-led initiatives, and influence policy and investments at the county level.
Natalie has been a girls rights activist for 8 years now during which she has mobilized more than 50,000 community members through community dialogues, public rallies, marches to raise awareness & women empowerment initiatives for an end to violence & discrimination against girls, girl-led and focused initiatives with 2,000 most vulnerable girls through girl village safe space, mentorship & skill workshops in Kuria, rural Kenya.