Holly Campbell, 20, volunteered with Raleigh ICS in India in 2013. Here she shares her report from a workshop exploring a Year of Girls’ Rights, led by YouthForChange. Last year the UK hosted the first Girl Summit, aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. How will the Global Goals help maintain that momentum?
1.These are Human rights breaches
Child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are both issues that, despite what others may argue, are a breach of human rights. Despite there being four types of FGM there are no health benefits from the practice. It results not only in physical pain and problems such as UTIs, cysts and fertility issues but also leaves huge psychological damage. Similarly, CEFM causes a plethora of issues such as women dropping out of school, lack of freedom, prevention of economic opportunity and both psychological and physical damage. Around 700,000 young girls die each year from CEFM induced child birth.
2.This is happening on our doorstep
Although many may think these issues are taking place in areas far away from home, it is a shock to hear that many of these issues are taking place in the UK. Over 137,000 women in the UK have been affected by FGM. Making up a substantial proportion of the 125 million to be affected worldwide.
It’s not just about girls
Although the workshop was based on gender equality and in particular girls’ rights, this does not mean that men were excluded. We were all surprised to hear that in the UK 20% of those subjected to CEFM are male, proving the issue is detrimental to both sexes. Men and boys are critical for helping end FGM and CEFM, by increasing gender equality and communication between men and women resulting in less stigma of these issues.
A new opportunity to address the issue
Unlike the previous millennium development goals, the new sustainable goals have a goal dedicated solely to gender equality: goal 5. This in itself is a great achievement, but in order for this goal to be fulfilled there needs to be worldwide commitment. In this workshop we all made wristbands stating #icommit. Join us too in helping this goal to be achieved by sharing #icommit and #youthforchange
Education and young people are key to helping!
Here at the workshop we worked in teams to come up with collective ideas for how we can tackle the issues of FGM and CEFM, yielding an impressive set of suggestions. One of the most common ideas to surface however was that of education. Education is key to helping tackle FGM and CEFM. Not only does it inform those being taught but it helps to generate conversations within families and friends. This is crucial for changing the language on these issues. A new website called HubForChange will soon be online so do give it a visit to see how you can help implement more education on girls rights!
Find out more about Youth For Change who ran the workshop.