1 May 2012

How has 28 Too Many taken to the streets?

Two special dates came up in our calendar in February and March – anti-FGM Day (6th February) and International Women’s Day (8th March). Each are full of key events, and for us, anti-FGM Day was marked by two Women’s Hour broadcasts on FGM in Senegal and Egypt. We attended a conference at the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists and Royal College of Midwives, hearing what professionals are doing to stop the 3500 British girls a year who have FGM, and deal with the medical consequences for the 50-70,000 British girls/women in the UK who have had FGM. We went to Parliament to meet MPs, Peers, NGOs (charities) & academics, before hearing Sister Fa, a Sengalise hip hop artist tell her FGM story and share her music, hoping to impact youth.

International Women’s Day was also busy, with 5 of us ‘marching’ around the South Bank, London in our new 28 Too Many t-shirts (see us on Facebook!) and hearing key women such as Cherie Blair speak at the Royal Festival Hall. We also attended a moving movie at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office called ‘Whistleblower’ on the plight of women in Bosnia-Herzogevenia. We use these times to lobby the government on wider policies regarding violence against women (VAW).

Sharing knowledge and spreading the word!
We were delighted to feature in a full page Sunday article (opposite David Cameron!) on FGM and our work in the Church of England Newspaper. We also featured in New Wine Magazine (page 40) which was followed up by speaking at their Women’s Conference to 900 women! They generously gave us an offering – which will enable us to start our program work. In fact this, an anonymous donation, and two grants have made us start registering 28 Too Many as a charity. Watch this space!

Five years on from graduating from being in Colorado Springs, I was asked to speak on FGM for a day for YWAM on their Primary Health Care Course. This helps us equip trained health professional to be equipped to spread the word and teach others as they work overseas.

As part of Restored, I attended a day at Coventry Cathedral, helping 35 professionals in anti-domestic abuse (DA) skills. I have volunteered to be the third Restored DA Advocate in the UK (Coventry, Peterborough & London) and so had extra training here and in Essex to help learn police procedures. Having helped two friends & a colleague over the last decade escape DA, I felt it would be good to be trained in the context as FGM fits under Restored’s umbrella of standing against all aspects of violence against women (VAW).

In the ‘incubator’ of the Inspired Individual Scheme!

In February I started my three year Inspired ‘scholarship’ under Tearfund. 4 of us (from Armenia, Iraq, Zimbabwe and UK!) had a week’s induction in Roehampton, South London and I had my first mentoring session to create our first year plan for growth! This was just in time for funding coming in (!) and the arrival of two senior volunteers joining 28 Too Many on International Women’s Day! Louise and Jo join us from corporate HR and legal backgrounds, with a combined experience of 36 years! They will head up 2 areas of function: Operations and Research, working alongside Kristina who works in Communications & Campaigns. Tearfund and Restored have helped us look at areas of strategy, media, brochure production and anti-corruption management….all very relevant as we gear up!

As part of a group of 6 women working in VAW in Africa, I was sent off to Durban, South Africa for a week to be involved in the We Will Speak Out Campaign – which could involve events in Geneva, Washington and elsewhere over the next year or so. I am keen to use these opportunities well, and feel very privileged to attend with women from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

Working as an agent of change
I am finding my feet in my role on the Bishop of London’s Global Development Group, and embraced its work in Fairtrade Fortnight! I was delighted to have afternoon tea with the Malawian peanut producers of Harry’s Nuts after our walk on International Women’s Day! I learnt about the carcinogenic by-product fungus that can ruin crops – and now understand why I saw so many cases of liver cancer in the hospital I worked at in Nigeria. This work fits in with Justice Matters where we also marked Fairtrade Fortnight showing the movie ‘Blood in the Mobile’ and lobbying our local stores for increased fair-trade products. I enjoyed ‘sampling’ Co-Op’s chocolate brownies, Cadbury’s dairy milk and 4 finger KitKat for ‘research’ purposes! Justice Matters also hosted an interesting pub debate (!) on the ethics of FGM compared to female genital cosmetic surgery. We also covered the ethics of transparency, and the fight of those persecuted for their faith.

I spoke at St Mary’s, Hayes and at Royston Baptist Church on FGM. I also spoke at a women’s group at St Barnabas Church and St Marks, Harrogate to over 50 women from Rippon, Leeds & York to wider share on the plight of women with FGM. I’ve contributed on FGM to a African Pastors Fellowship Magazine(page 13-14), and Global Connections’ Health Resource, to share our FGM resources information across the world. I have also spoken on Mental Health issues and to a Japanese Men’s English class on my transition from corporate life to self employment to charity!

One exciting adventure is that a friend have started an income generation project for Africans from Uganda and Kenya making doll’s dress sets which she sells on eBay. The profits are being donated to 28 Too Many! This, along with a designer clothes show, a bunch of women running in the Belfast marathon and an art exhibition are the first exciting fundraising projects being done for 28 Too Many! Do consider something for us if you ever fancy it….anything goes!

Coming soon!
• Speaker at a conference in St Neots
• Talk to heath professionals for Choices Haringey
• Talk to young people on FGM
• Coalition on sexual violence against women, Geneva

• Visit from our East African Researcher.

• Speaker at Mother’s Union, London.
• Possible trip to Washington, DC.