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AWRA and Orchid Project Introduce Africa Network to End FGM/C at Women Deliver 2023

KIGALI, RWANDA – African Women Rights Advocates (AWRA) and Orchid Project are excited to introduce and co-host the Africa Network to End FGM/C  – the first-of-its-kind African-led initiative at Women Deliver conference taking place July 17-20 in Kigali, Rwanda. The Africa Network to end FGM/C will aim to advocate, lobby and connect individuals and organizations working to eradicate female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) in Africa.

With AWRA as the founding host, the network will be an African-led initiative envisaged to bring together civil society organizations and individual activists throughout the continent to unify their efforts towards ending FGM/C and amplify their advocacy efforts for change.The Network is set to be centered around the girl child, and will be led by survivors of FGM/C and gender-based violence, local activists – men and women alike.

As part of AWRA’s vision to provide survivor-centered solutions, the new network will be Africa-led and based, and will have close working relationships with international organizations and sponsors such as Wallace Global Fund, the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices (IAC), and AMREF – to name a few.

Naimah Hassan, AWRA co-founder and chairwoman, will share a space with local activists at the Catalyzing Global Action to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting’ pre-conference in Kigali.’co-hosted by Orchid Project as part of the Global Platform for Action to End FGM/C with the Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW).

Hassan will introduce the Africa Network to End FGM/C to participants and attendees, including grassroots partners sponsored by Orchid Project to attend the preconference and Women Deliver, who may wish to join forces with AWRA and Orchid in this effort.

“This Network is the missing link where voices and actions are unified and coordinated, in the continent with the the highest prevalence FGM/C rate worldwide. We anticipate the official launch to take place at the upcoming International FGM/C Conference set to be held in Tanzania in October of this year,” said Hassan, AWRA.

Asenath Mwithigah, CEO of Orchid Project, emphasized the Orchid Project’s excitement to be part of this groundbreaking initiative. Mwithigah will announce the Network at Women Deliver plenary session, ‘Accountability of Gender Equality Commitments’, which will be opened by Nobel Peace Prize winner and global gender equality advocate Malala Yousafzai.  

“The establishment of the Africa Network to End FGM/C will be a major milestone geared towards catalyzing the movement to end FGM/C as per Orchid’s mission. It is truly astonishing that the continent with the largest prevalence rates of FGM/C, yet with the most progressive agenda to end the practice hasn’t had a regional network. This network will serve as a unifying voice for all stakeholders against FGM/C, fostering knowledge exchange and strategic advocacy at regional and global levels. Together, we hope to support and accelerate an existing powerful movement for change,” Mwithigah said.

The Africa Network to End FGM/C will be designed to serve as a coordinating body – much like a support system – for countries advocating to campaign, and advocate for an end to FGM/C in Africa. Our dedicated and diverse network of activists and collaborators will work to provide community-centered solutions, to educate and create awareness, and to help fundraise for local groups and activists that are on the frontlines of the fight to end FGM/C. 

Fridah Wawira Nyaga, who is Program Manager for Kenyan grassroots organization, Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), welcomed the announcement as “a unique opportunity to bring on board the missing voices, share our lived experiences on FGM and jointly work to make end FGM a reality.” 

Nyaga added that, “Formation of the Africa Network to End FGM/C Network will be key to ensuring grassroots organizations and activists in the region have a space to share best practices, learn from each other and jointly carry out advocacy initiatives in an effort to achieve zero cases of FGM/C.”

African Women Rights Advocates (AWRA) is a women-led NGO registered in both Kenya and the Netherlands. AWRA is a survivor-led initiative created by African women from the diaspora and in the continent. AWRA uses collective experiences to create and deliver mentorship projects, awareness campaigns, and safe spaces for women and girls.

Orchid Project is a leading NGO dedicated to ending female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) globally. Orchid Project works in partnership with grassroots organizations and communities, striving to inspire social change by advocating for the abandonment of FGM/C through capacity development, knowledge sharing, research and global and regional influencing.