Orchid Project communicates the realities of FGC…
As well as the hope and possibility that the practice can and is ending. This takes place over a variety of platforms, and within a variety of audiences. These include those in the development sector working on women’s or health issues, politicians and influential decision makers, and of course, the wider public.
This website is just one of the platforms from which we communicate our message regarding FGC. We also work through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to better spread the message that FGC can and should end, as well as educating partners, interested parties, and the public on what exactly FGC is. We see one of our main duties as being a place where stories from around the world, and amongst other activists and organisations come together, and so we often include their stories in our regular roundup of news stories, or blog updates.
When it comes to communicating about FGC, we are completely committed to doing so in a non-sensational, and accurate manner. We aim to relay to the public and other interested parties where FGC happens, why it happens, how and how much it happens, as well as about how attitudes are changing, and how communities are abandoning the practice. As well as reporting on how attitudes are changing, Orchid Project is also committed to reporting the ways in which efforts towards change are often met with resistance, in order to accurately represent the obstacles involved in creating change. A major part of this is securing press and media coverage, and we have been featured in a number of major media outlets.
Orchid Project aims to reach out to new, diverse audiences…
Through our FGC awareness raising programmes and projects. For us, this is as much, if not more, about raising the awareness of FGC in this country and beyond, as it is about raising funds. In the past we have held dinners, film nights, and casual discussions. Some of these have been in support of the International Day Against FGC, for which we have held receptions at the UK Houses of Parliament, as well as overseas in Denmark, and the US.
One of our regular fixtures, and most popular and successful events has been our collaboration with Girls, Girls, Girls. These events are held by talented musicians, and Orchid Project supporters, Sam Lindo and Eliza Shaddad, who have been working with Orchid Project since 2011. The nights held by Girls, Girls, Girls showcase all-female musicians, and performers and help spread the word regarding Orchid Project and our aim to end FGC. The performances are usually held in London and can be found at locations as diverse as St Pancras Old Church, and Dalston Old Boys’ Club.
If you’re interested in helping raise awareness of FGC then please find out how to do so here.
Orchid Project has a number of fantastic ambassadors…
Including Sister Fa. A Senegalese hip-hop star now based in Berlin, Sister Fa continually works to bring about an end to FGC through her taboo-busting songs and performances. By regularly travelling back to her home country Sister Fa has been central to the opening up of the conversation that surrounds the practice, and has immeasurably helped to bring this discussion to a much wider audience. Her charisma both on and off stage, and her willingness to speak openly and honestly about her own experiences, demonstrates the power that can be held by musicians when they choose to speak out loudly for social change. Not only is Sister Fa a strong, inspiring figure for girls to look up to, but as a cut woman she can speak directly to their own experiences and realities and urge them to focus on the need to bring about an end to FGC in their own lifetime.
Orchid Project has been supporting Sister Fa since 2011 by funding her educational tours and projects in West Africa. In February of 2015 she joined us in New York to mark the International Day Against FGC, where her award winning documentary Sarabah was screened. In 2013 she spoke at an event at the House of Lords held by Orchid Project alongside Lynne Featherstone, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary for DFID where she spoke openly about FGC. In 2012 she also addressed the House of Commons at a Parliamentary reception held by Orchid Project, where she spoke to a delegation of parliamentarians, Ministers, and campaigners. She has also performed at the Evening Standard’s “1,000 Most Influential People in London” event, as well as the London African Music Festival.
In her own words, Sister Fa describes her experience of FGC and the reasons behind her own campaign to speak out about it:
“I went through female genital cutting (FGC) when I was a young girl. I still remember the day it happened to me. I felt betrayed. For years, I wondered why my mother had allowed this to happen. It was not until someone explained to me that she didn’t have a choice: she was not cutting me to harm me, but because she felt that she was doing what was the best for me. My home town in Senegal has now joined thousands of others and abandoned FGC. Once you know that everyone has a right to be free from all forms of violence, and that you yourself have a responsibility to help them achieve that right, you don’t look back.
I hope that what is happening in Africa will be supported around the world. I hope that people will feel inspired. I will tell people that footbinding in China ended in 20 years – why can’t FGC end the same way? I am just trying to speak for the many women who cannot raise their voices. I feel that when I talk, one person listens; but when I sing, thousands of people can hear my song.”
Sister Fa has also been the recipient of the prestigious ‘Freedom to Create’ award.
Our other Ambassadors are Jay Kamara Frederick and the novelist Christie Watson, writer of Tiny Sunbirds Far Away. Jay and Sister Fa worked especially closely with us and the media around the Girl Summit in 2014.