Dreamer & Co is passionate about creating more space for women to shine—and part of that is through education, trauma healing, and dignified jobs.
In February the artisans attended a three-part lecture on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), where an employee from the United Nations led the discussions. It gave the women a chance to ask questions about how to prevent future generations from undergoing the same trauma they did.
I, Jessica, first heard of FGM from the documentary and book Half the Sky. FGM is an ugly, not very known, reality. According to the World Health Organization, FGM "is the total or partial removal of external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons". The practice has been documented in 30 countries, mainly in Africa, as well as in the Middle East and Asia. It is a practice that dates back generations, and for many, it's centered on old wives’ tales.
I'm not going to describe in detail what happens because, to be honest, I'm not even sure I can.
It seems that every month there comes a time in a woman's life when things just aren't so pretty. As women, most of us can relate to the cramps, mood swings, and fatigue that happen in those 7 days out of the month. But for some women, the reality is much worse. When girls in many African countries hit puberty they are often subjected to FGM. Even though many countries have outlawed this practice, it still happens. Because in many places it's illegal, when it does happen, it takes place in unsupervised and unclean places. A woman that has undergone FGM doesn't just experience her monthly period like everyone else. She goes through pain so strong it rivals childbirth...and this happens every. single. month.
In the country where we work, these young girls are already facing extreme heat and living conditions and now they must also face pain so unbearable most of us would be upside down in pills after minute one.
So last February, we teamed together with a couple of local non-profits to offer a safe space for the women to share their stories of FGM. More importantly, they were taught why this practice is not safe and how to break the cycle of FGM among the next generation.
In 2014, I, Jessica, got the privilege to meet Dr. Edna and hear about her fight in FGM. She has a hospital in the Horn of Africa where she trains and sends out midwives. These midwives not only help with delivery but they help with educating locals on the reality of FGM. Dr. Edna is a world-renowned hero and you can read more of her story in the book mentioned above, Half the Sky.
I realize we are not in a position to train midwives or stand up to grandmothers, but we are in a position to educate you. If you are interested in learning more we recommend these resources:
Donate to Dr. Edna's hospital directly: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/EAHF/
- Share stories like the one above and educate yourself. Here are some facts from the WHO: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation and articles from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/society/female-genital-mutilation
- Watch Desert Flower. (This is the movie we watched with the artisans)
Jessica geeking out when she got to meet Dr. Edna in 2014. And 4 years later I had the privilege of running into her in an airport in Kenya and getting to thank her again for her amazing service to women.