Somalia

Dear Daughter Campaign to end FGM [EN/SO]

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A radically different approach to ending Female Genital Mutilation in Somalia, the Ministry for Women and Human Rights Development, UNFPA and Ifrah Foundation’s 'Dear Daughter Campaign’ is rooted in the principle of personal empowerment. By pledging not to cut their daughters, Somali parents are not only protecting them from the negative consequences of the practice, but respecting their bodily autonomy. When others bear witness to that promise, they too are inspired to make the pledge: A future free of Female Genital Mutilation for the Dear Daughters of Somalia. The campaign is a collaboration between the Ministry for Women and Human Rights Development, UNFPA and Ifrah Foundation which proposes advocacy, media and grass roots programs on a national scale centred around this basic premise.

Ifrah Foundation’s founder, Ifrah Ahmed, is a survivor of Female Genital Mutilation herself and has lived with the harrowing consequences of the practice since she was cut as a girl. She has channelled this experience into a drive for change and it is her instinctive understanding of the multi-faceted belief systems perpetuating the practice in Somalia that has informed the thinking underpinning the Dear Daughter Campaign. Now a young mother herself, she is even more determined to break the cycle of Female Genital Mutilation for future generations and works tirelessly to bring her fellow countrymen and women with her on this journey key to transforming the future for young women and girls in Somalia. Embedded in her Foundation’s community education and empowerment programs is the fundamental belief that the practice of Female Genital Mutilation is a human rights violation. In seeking individual commitments from stakeholders, such as religious and political leaders, she empowers every individual parent and guardian to join participate in a national pledge to the daughters of Somalia, promising them with a future free of Female Genital Mutilation.

"Let’s not allow our daughters to suffer the pain we’ve been through”, says Ifrah Ahmed, activist and founder of Ifrah Foundation.

In partnership with the Ministry for Women and Human Rights Development, UNFPA in Somalia and the Ifrah Foundation, this campaign has been developed on research and experience that subscribes to the three pillar policy of addressing Female Genital Mutilation. All of advocacy, awareness raising and community engagement and empowerment programs are required to be undertaken simultaneously and consistently over a period of time. For example, engaging with religious leaders in the community requires media intervention to spread the message that Female Genital Mutilations is not a religious obligation. Ifrah Foundation recognizes that men also play a key role in perpetrating the practice, which is why it undertakes programs to develop a strong and independent Somali Men and Boys network to End FGM.

UNFPA Representative for Somalia, Anders Thomsen understands the value of working in collaboration with local civil society organisations such as the Ifrah Foundation and the power of engaging with communities and individuals on the issue. Further, raising awareness not only on the harms of the practice but on the work being done to end it will contribute to shift to the elimination of the practice.

“It is symbolic that we are launching the Dear Daughter Campaign in Mogadishu in the call centre for women aspiring for leadership positions to achieve the 30 percent quota for women’s representation. We’re here to improve the lives of women and girls in Somalia. The urgency and role of women in society must be enhanced on all fronts. Putting an end to FGM is a fundamental pillar of that agenda,” says Thomsen.

He said FGM is a practice that causes unimaginable suffering in Somalia. “The Dear Daughter Campaign is a gamechanger as it gives a voice for the grassroots to come together for change. This means girls will finally be safe from the brutal cut that undermines the health of women and girls. Together let us transform the pain of FGM into global solidarity.”

Importantly, the Ministry for Women and Human Rights Development recognises the need for the Government of Somalia to pass the zero tolerance for FGM legislation and the Sexual Offences Bill to act expeditiously to end the practice and protect the rights of young women and girls in Somalia.

“Equitable access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities accelerate the elimination of FGM.” said the Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, H.E Hanifa Mohamed Ibrahim

For further details please contact:
Ifrah Ahmed, Ifrah Foundation + 252 61 734 9455 Ifrah@ifrahfoundation.org
Felix Warentho, UNFPA Somalia + 252 710 441465 warentho@unfpa.org
Sadia Mohamed Nur, Director of Gender, Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development Tell: +252615557427/+252617525927 Email: gender@mwhrd.gov.so