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First U.S. FGM Summit, Washington DC, December 1st and 2nd, 2016

December 2, 2016

img_2703-4The FGM Summit in Washington DC was held over the first two days of December 2016, providing for the first time in the USA an opportunity for leading activists and strategists against female genital mutilation from across the world to meet and consider both progress and remaining challenges. I was pleased to be amongst those attending.  Good practice was interrogated and friendships and collaborations consolidated, as we pondered both the commonalities which FGM presents, and the very different ways in which, variously, eradication is approached.


Equality NowSafe Hands for Girls, the US Institute for Peace, and the US Network to End FGM/C,
with support from Wallace Global Fund and Human Dignity Foundation
organized the first US-hosted End Violence Against Girls Summit to End FGM/C.

This creative, positive and engaging event brought together domestic and international thought leaders, survivors, civil society, front-line professionals, and government to discuss cross-­sectoral approaches, in the US and internationally, to ending FGM by 2030.
Those attending included activists and subject specialists from across the US and over 20 countries: Canada, Egypt, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Guinea, India, Iran, Ireland, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, UK, and the United States; the United Nations, international and US government representatives, faith-­based leaders and members of the Donor Working Group on FGM/C, all sharing top-­line recommendations across sectors, including survivor/activists, child protection, education, health care, community and faith-­based groups, law enforcement and government, to respond to and eliminate FGM.

Summit Goals
• Share best practices in ending FGM and supporting FGM survivors
• Advance a comprehensive multi-­sectoral approach to ending FGM and providing services to those affected, including healthcare, child protection, education, and law enforcement.
• Foster increased coordination and collaboration among government, front line professionals, religious and community leaders, and activists focused on protecting girls from violence and eradicating FGM by 2030.
• Launch inclusive and vibrant US ‘End FGM/C’ Network.
• Strengthen international movement to end FGM.

Thursday 1 December 2016
including a meeting hosted by Safe Hands for Girls of community activists and survivors from around the world



Domtila Chesang



and a very informative round table discussion hosted by US government attorney Susan Masling with colleagues from the US Department of Justice, and from other countries such as Kenya and the UK, to consider legal and related aspects of eradication:


Susan Masling          Kathleen O’Connor (both USA)


Christine Nanjala (Kenya)            Gerry Campbell (UK)

The legal session was followed by an evening reception for all Summit attendees at the National Museum of Women in the Arts :





Tobe Levin and Renee Bergstrom


Jaha Dukureh (Safe Hands for Girls) and friends


Friday 2 December 2016, at the U.S. Institute of Peace



The full Summit agenda can be seen here.

9:00 a.m.
Welcome & Keynote Remarks


Activists and Youth Panel


Performance of Her Story, UnCut, written & directed by Katie Cappiello


11:00 a.m.
Role of Educators Panel


Medical and Service Providers Panel





Sayydah Garrett, Pastoralist Child Foundation

1:30 p.m.



Senator Harry Reid

Video presentation of Jaha’s Journey, presented by Maggie O’Kane of The Guardian End FGM Global Media Campaign


Congressman Joseph Crowley


Law Enforcement/Child Protection Panel



Religious and Community Leaders Panel


3:30 p.m.
International Sustainable Development Goals Panel



Dr Morissanda Kouyate, IAC

Best Practices and Solutions Panel



Closing Remarks



5 pm

Informal networking


Hilary with Dr Nina Smart

The Summit on FGM/C was livestreamed the day of the event on­‐end-­‐female-­‐genital-­‐mutilation ….

….   and that contact for US End FGM/C again:

or just go to the website: 

Let’s do it!



~ ~ ~

[A note on terminology: The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, which has a primary focus on FGM, is clear that in formal discourse any term other than ‘mutilation’ concedes damagingly to the cultural relativists – though the terms employed may of necessity vary in informal discussion with those who by tradition use alternative vocabulary. See the Feminist Statement on the Naming and Abolition of Female Genital Mutilation,  The Bamako Declaration: Female Genital Mutilation Terminology and the debate about Anthr/Apologists on this website.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Books by Hilary Burrage on female genital mutilation

For more detail and discussion of female genital mutilation please see my textbook, which considers in some detail the situation globally, but also explores the issues relating specifically to Western nations:  Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: A UK Perspective (Ashgate/Routledge, 2015). My second book, Female Mutilation: The truth behind the horrifying global practice of female genital mutilation (New Holland Publishers, 2016), contains narrative ‘stories’ (case studies) from about seventy people across five continents who have experienced FGM, either as survivors and/or as campaigners and activists against this harmful traditional practice.


There is a free FGM hotline for anyone in the UK: 0800 028 3550, or

The (free) #NoFGM Daily News carries reports of all items shared on Twitter that day about FGM – brings many organisations and developments into focus.

Also available to follow at no cost or obligation is the #NoFGM_USA Daily News.

Twitter accounts:          @NoFGM_UK  @NoFGMBookUK @FemaleMutlnBook  @FGMStatement  @NoFGM_USA @NoFGM_Kenya  @NoFGM_France  @GuardianEndFGM [tag for all: #NoFGM] and @StopMGM.

Facebook page: #NoFGM – a crime against humanity

More info on FGM here. Email contact: via Hilary


This article concerns approaches to the eradication specifically of FGM.  I am also categorically opposed to MGM, but that is not the focus of this particular piece.

Anyone wishing to offer additional comment on more general considerations around infant and juvenile genital mutilation is asked please to do so on the relevant dedicated thread, originally developed in June 2012:

The Other FGM Debate: Is Male Circumcision (MGM) Also Child Abuse?

Pending further notice, discussion of the general issues re M/FGM will not be published unless they are posted on this dedicated page. Thanks.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2017 14:06

    Excellent report, Hilary, especially the images. They open up the event in a memorable way to those unable to attend. And given the contentious history of US opposition to any popular movement against FGM, the presence of so much UK energy together with acceptance by US-based groups of ‘foreign’ guidance augurs well for progress, so long delayed by the attitudes shown in the early 90s and before toward pioneer campaigners. To be clear, exalted movement leaders like Efua Dorkenoo, Linda Weil-Curiel, Comfort Ottah, Awa Thiam and others involved in the founding of FORWARD (UK) advised and participated in the 1993 movie by Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar, Warrior Marks. Acerbic dismissal of that film and consequently those tireless, courageous, mainly African women who worked on it remains in my mind as reprehensible, given the thousands of girls mutilated in the US in the last 25 years. At the conference I missed reference to this deplorable history and can only assume silence about it was strategic and I admit, a ‘let’s get on with it’ attitude has its place.

    • January 4, 2017 16:27

      Thank you Tobe!
      Yes, I’d agree a ‘let’s get on with it’ approach has its place, but I too noticed that the complex history of this movement was perhaps put aside for another time – many, perhaps most, of the younger participants will have no idea how much work has already been done to end FGM, though knowing about that history may have a part to play as we move forward. Eradicating FGM requires massive investment of both personal effort and manoeuvring skill, and those campaigning now need to know that others before them have also found it difficult work.
      (Indeed, I’d say a significant obstacle to success in the movement towards gender equality in general is the sheer lack of wider understanding of the huge efforts to confront the challenges which were made by previous campaigners; perhaps interesting that, in contrast sometimes to the equally important quest for ‘racial’ equality, the work of earlier gender equality campaigners is less often acknowledged?)
      Perhaps the #EndFGM historical information will be assimilated gently, as it becomes relevant to the questions which in the future must be asked about many different issues.
      Whatever, Tobe, your work to put the ‘evidence’ (material) together in accessible formats is hugely valuable.
      For the benefit of any readers who don’t know about the people Tobe mentions above, here are some links:
      Efua Dorkenoo: Appreciation: Efua Dorkenoo OBE
      Linda Weil-Curiel: The UK Can Learn From France On Female Genital Mutilation Prosecutions
      Comfort Ottah: Female Mutilation (Chapter 9, United Kingdom): Comfort Ottah is a Nigerian-born midwife who has worked in London for many years.
      Warrior Marks: Review
      Here is a list – see Comment – of some others Tobe Levin has acknowledged for their commitment to ending FGM:
      Soraya Mire, Khady Koita, Efua Dorkenoo, Fana Habteab, Waris Dirie, Berhane Ras-Work, Fatou Secka, Miriam Sheik-Abdi, Nawal el Sadaawi, Awa Thiam, Comfort Momoh, Comfort Ottah, Zahra Oli Osman, Ambara Hashi Nur, Etenesh Hadis, Shamsa Said, Sarah McCulloch, Owolabi Bjalkander, Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Chantal Campaoré, Fatoumata Siré Diakité, Faduma Ismail, Zarah Siad Naleie, Alem Desta, Mariame Racine Sow, Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, Batulo Essak, Khadija Farah, Khadidiatou Diallo, Zahra Mohamed Ibrahim, Abebech Tekleab, Laila Abi Ahmed, Moawia Ahmed, Sara Ahmed, Eiman Sharief, Gloria Ogunbadego, Olayinka Koso-Thomas, Fatima Duarte, Lucy Mashua, Mariam Lamizana, Phyllis Ngumakimba, Adebisi Adebayo, Morissanda Kouyate, Nura Abdi, Aberi Ikinko, Fidelia O. Iyamah, Akuavi Leontine Akakpo nee Esseh-Yovo, Isatou Touray, Asma El Dareer … The Inter-African Committee that launched Zero Tolerance to Female Mutilation Day, the European Network FGM
      … and many many more, including those supporting the Statement on Female Genital Mutilation

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