26 February 2016

Tackling illiteracy can open up a world of opportunity

Campaign update by Anna Sørensen.

New global campaign launched to put illiteracy at heart of development issues

“It’s up to you; it’s up to all of us, to help make illiteracy a thing of the past.”
- Project Literacy

28 Too Many is proud to be supporting the new campaign, Project Literacy, which was launched at the UK Houses of Parliament Tuesday this week. This global initiative aims to put illiteracy at the centre of tackling issues such as child marriage, poverty, gender inequality and female genital mutilation. Lily Cole, actress and activist, gave a speech at the launching event, saying: “F is for female genital mutilation because in some areas more than 80% of the women affected are illiterate.”

On the website that also launched this week, Project Literacy introduces their campaign with one hard-hitting fact: “757 million people cannot read this sentence.” One of the tools used to address this issue is the video “Alphabet of Illiteracy”. Done in the style of a child’s learning book, it is hoped that this will help raise awareness of why more effort must be put into ending illiteracy. 

Project Literacy’s ultimate goal is that by 2030, no newborn child will grow up at risk of facing poor literacy. The first step is a petition that calls for UN to the heart of every action to advance the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Support the campaign and sign the petition.

The Huffington Post shared the full transcript of Lily Cole’s speech.

To learn more read The Guardian’s well-written article on the campaign.

Join the movement and use #ProjectLiteracy in your campaigning.

Young adult speaks out and joins anti-FGM campaign

"It was a personal choice. But I now understand why it was so difficult to convince my mother to let me go through that barbaric practice."
- Najma

The Huffington Post UK published the story of Najma, who after escaping from Somalia to England as a child, assumed every girl in Britain had undergone FGM like herself. 

You can also visit the Fixers website to read more about Najma’s story. 

Canadian journalist wins award with article on FGM

“FGM [is] the worst systemic human rights abuse in the world.”
- Giselle Portenier

Giselle Portenier, a human rights journalist, won the Annual Joan Gullen Award for Media Excellence with her in-depth article on the prevalence of female genital mutilation in Canada. The article sets to break the silence as it is estimated that up to 80,000 FGM survivors living in Canada have no access to help lines, clinics or awareness.

Nigeria fighting FGM on all fronts

“For this fight, 2030 is too far; time for action is now.”

Abimbola Akosile, a reporter for allAfrica.com, summarises his observations as one of 300 attendees at a recent programme jointly organised by UNFPA, UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Abuja.

New app that aims to fight FGM launches in April

“People do want to talk about it but it’s a difficult subject to open, so this is a tool health professionals would use to start a discussion.”
- Joanne McEwan

Oxford-based health visitor Joanne McEwan is developing a new iPad app in hopes that technology can be a helpful tool to bring the subject of female genital mutilation into the open. The Herald reported that the app will include a number of features, including support information and video interviews. A £12,500 grant has been given from the NHS’s Mary Seacole award to fund the project.

New York charity calls for criminalisation of ‘vacation cutting’ in the state

Sanctuary for Families, a New York-based charity, has launched a petition urging New York State Assembly members to pass a bill making transporting a girl out of the country to be cut illegal. According to the charity, girls in New York are especially at risk of being subjected to FGM.

Click here (link: http://europe.newsweek.com/fgm-vacation-cutting-new-york-state-430020?rm=eu) to read more.

Visit the Sanctuary for Families website to sign the petition.

India’s Dark Secret: first group of women speak out against FGM

“I wasn’t aware this is happening in my community. A year ago, someone from my family spoke about it publicly. Lack of understanding of why it’s done bothers me the most. It goes against everything I know about my community which is educated, progressive, modern.’’
- Zehra Patwa

Female genital mutilation is common in the Bohra community in Mumbai, India, where the practice is called ‘khatna’ and usually performed on girls aged six and seven. FGM has been a big taboo and secretive practice in India, to the extent where not even the males of the community have been aware of it. In a new video feature for Hindustan Times, Harinder Baweja breaks the silence and goes in-depth on ‘India’s Dark Secret’ and presents the first Indian women who’re using their experiences to fight FGM.

One of the measures that have been made is a petition started by a group of Bohra women that calls for the Government to take action against FGM. As a result, three decrees issued by Jamaats of Sydney, Melbourne and UK have asked Bohras to stop practising female genital mutilation, stating: “All parents and guardians are hereby directed in the strictest terms not to carry out khafd (khatna) under any circumstances and the consequences of breaking the law will be solely yours.” (https://www.thequint.com/gender/women/hope-for-an-end-to-fgm-uk-australia-ban-the-barbaric-practiceThe campaigners are still waiting for a response from the Bohra community’s powerful clergy (https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai/bohra-diaspora-responds-to-anti-fgm-campaign/story-UnWgDRHEyAkopdlbscuqTI.html).

India has no ban of FGM, but Canada-based lawyer Dilshad Tavawalla argues that it can be written into already existing laws in India such as section 9 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Goa Children's Act.

You can also read more in the written article ‘India’s Dark Secret’.
Egyptian doctor’s license revoked after performing deathly FGM

Doctor Raslan Fadl performed FGM on a 13-year-old girl who died as a result of the procedure in 2013. He is the first doctor to be convicted of performing FGM and was sentenced to two years of prison in 2015. Last December he was still not imprisoned and kept practicing medicine until his license was revoked Thursday this week.

Read the following articles to learn more:



Coming up this week

Young People Leading Change to End FGM - Friday 4 th March

Join our special event at Oxford University with presentations by young people campaigning ot end FGM, a showing of the inspiring documentary WARRIORS and an expert panel discussion.


28 Too Many volunteer Anna Sørensen is studying journalism at Goldsmiths College, University of London, Anna’s writes weekly blogs which report on progress in the campaign to end FGM in the UK and internationally.

You can donate to support our research and campaign to protect girls and end this practice. Please also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the global movement to end FGM.