Recent efforts in Gambia show the success of frontline activists fighting to end female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is a global human rights’ issue that has affected nearly 200 million women and girls worldwide.
Although frontline activists receive little to no funding, their efforts have seen promising results in countries from Kenya to Gambia. Kenya banned FGM in 2011 and efforts to enforce the ban in all regions of the country have had growing success through grassroots education programs.
Samburu Girls’ Foundation provides education, rescue centers, and outreach programs to Somali, Maasai, Samburu and Pokot communities that are working to overcome language barriers so they can unite against FGM and child marriage. Similar efforts in Gambia led by Jaha Dukureh, founder of Safe Hands for Girls, hope to prove the capabilities of frontline activists with anticipated prevalence statistics. The data will be released later this year and is expected to track the decrease in FGM in Gambia.
Activists have been calling for aid reform in the efforts to end FGM. There are barriers to building trust between grassroots and large organizations like the United Nations. From 2016 data, development initiatives estimate that less than 2% of international aid reaches the frontlines.
Many view management consultancies and international organizations as colonial approaches because of their tendency to ignore local efforts. But with the success of grassroots efforts in Kenya and Gambia, there has been a larger push to collaborate with and fund frontline activists rather than relying on outside charities to provide a solution.
Sources: The Guardian 2/6/20; CNN 2/6/18