Ending FGM: Time to Shift the Power to Women & Frontline Activists

AWRA co-founder Domtila Chesang (center) standing with end FGM activists in Naivasha, Kenya.

As an organization principled on collaboration not competition, last month was a pivotal milestone for AWRA. Some of our co-founders were privileged to participate in a retreat near Lake Naivasha, Kenya. The gathering, titled “Ending FGM: Time to Shift the Power,” was an intimate gathering of frontline FGM campaigners, philanthropists, feminist thinkers, and key leaders from bilateral and multilateral organizations to discuss and develop a new approach to ending FGM by 2030.

We strongly believe that an ecosystem of support to the grassroots through funding or capacity building would only be strengthened by a regional African-led network where knowledge is shared, voices are amplified and policies are defined and centered by us as Africans who care about the well-being of our fellow women and girls.

For AWRA, the retreat was an opportunity to widen our network and share our work with donors in a safe space among peers. We had the opportunity to share and exchange both frustrations and solutions to funding FGM programs, and understand the importance of recognizing the intersectionality aspect of Female Genital Mutilation. Furthermore – its direct links with other related issues including political, social, environmental and economical factors.

Some of the exciting outcomes of the retreat include: Leading on the consultative process to set up the Africa-MENA EndFGM network in courtesy of Wallace Global Fund; Expanding AWRA network in new territories; and connecting with new donors, partners and collaborative working both globally and locally.

Additionally, in depth discussions were had around shifting the power of funding, policy and programming, one of the things that came out was the need for honest discourse and analysis of what works and doesn’t work, the importance of mental health and wellbeing support to frontline campaigners, and the need to work together as a consortium of #FrontlineEndingFGM.

AWRA co-founders from left to right: Ifrah Ahmed, Naimah Hassan, and Mamlisa Camara at Naivasha.