My Amazing Experience at Women Deliver 2019
Wednesday, 26 June, 2019
By Diram Duba
I travelled to Vancouver, Canada for the first time to attend the Women Deliver Conference, the world’s largest conference on gender equality that brought together government officials, human rights activists, academics, media and advocacy organisations from around the world between June 2 and June 6, 2019. There were at least 8,000 participants at this conference.
End FGM/C Pre-Conference
I participated in the End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) preconference that brought together more than 100 participants around a global call to action to end FGM/C and support FGM/C survivors. Convened by civil society organisations, champions, survivors and other grassroots representatives from across the globe, participants came together to get to know others working globally on this issue, and to discuss what is needed to accelerate the end of FGM/C by 2030. The event put grassroots and survivor voices at the centre and strengthened a unified community of practice to support the achievement of SDG 5.3.
This was, and will remain, a mind-blowing, life changing, insightful and transformative experience for me.
The event was attended by phenomenal women and men from all over the world. I participated as a Youth Advocate and a community champion from Amref Health Africa and shared my experiences advocating for the rights of girls and women in my community as well as other communities in Kenya to end FGM/C, early and forced child marriages and redefining the value of girls. I come from Borana community that practices the cut (with prevalence of 98%) and as a survivor, this inspired me to increase my efforts to eradicate FGM/C in my community.
As indicated in our Global call to action, FGM/C is happening in every continent in the world except Antarctica therefore issues raised during this preconference meant that it is a global issue that requires a global response; a violation of human rights and should be ended in all its forms. Here is our Global Call To Action
I was also a panellist during the screening of the film ‘In The Name of Your Daughter’ which is one of the most inspiring films I have ever watched. During the panel, we discussed the approaches we use as advocates from different communities to engage community members when discussing sensitive cultural practices such as FGM/C which was once a taboo topic.
Different communities practice ‘the cut’ for different reasons; some do it to reduce sexual desires, others do it as a rite of passage or religious obligation. Through the screening, I realised that film is a powerful tool in advocating against harmful cultural practices.
Meeting President Kenyatta
I am particularly happy that my President, Uhuru Kenyatta, publicly declared that he will advocate against FGM/C and make sure it ends by 2022. I hope all leaders both globally and locally will follow suit and raise their voices in advocating against all harmful cultural practices.
Eradicating FGM/C is everyone’s responsibility and each of us can play a role in creating a world that is safer for our girls. We as religious leaders, women, men, political leaders, the youth, government officials, donors and stakeholders, and with our President taking lead, should be committed to create a world where women and girls will not be subjected to gender-based violence but reach their full potential.
As a community champion and youth advocate, I will use my power (#ThePowerOf) to continue advocating for the rights of women and girls in my community by creating a platform where community members are able to freely dialogue on the harmful cultural practices and initiate the abandonment of the practice.
Amref Health Africa teams up with African communities to create lasting health change.