While working overseas Ann-Marie met a 10 year old girl iwho had been raped and undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The girl would not have survived pregnancy without having a caesarean section at the Christian medical relief clinic where Ann-Marie volunteered. Meeting this girl changed Ann-Marie’s life and she spent six years studying and volunteering in fourteen countries with a view to launch 28 Too Many - a pioneering anti-FGM initiative working across 28 countries in Africa.
PHOTOS AND VIDEOS
Before joining the charity sector Ann-Marie worked for more than a decade in the corporate sector in the areas of training, coaching and counselling. She then moved on to work with some of the leading aid relief and development agencies in Indo-China, Kosovo, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia.
She holds a Doctorate in Psychology as well as qualifications in Biblical and Cross-Cultural studies, anthropology development, and Islamic studies. While studying at ANCC, she used FGM as the theme for almost all assignments and her dissertation.
In 2005 Ann-Marie met an 11 year old girl in North Sudan who had been raped and undergone FGM. The girl would not have survived having a baby without having a caesarean at the Christian medical relief clinic where Ann-Marie volunteered. Meeting this girl changed Ann-Marie's life and since then she has spent the last six years studying, volunteering in fourteen countries and preparing to launch 28toomany.org.
In September 2010, Ann-Marie launched 28 Too Many, a pioneering anti-FGM initiative working across 28 countries in Africa.
Gender based violence (GBV) exists in most societies, often focussed on violence against women (VAW). Difficulties arise when the violence is undertaken by family members on young girls that neither have a voice, nor any concept of the wrongs of the practice, nor any understanding of alternative options.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a dangerous traditional practice for altering the female genitalia.
There are four main types of FGM, namely: 1: partial excision; II: total excision; III: infibulation; IV: pricking, piercing, cauterisation, scraping or cutting the vagina; introduction of corrosives or herbs.
FGM is traditionally practised by non-medically trained women. It is often performed for promoting cultural identity; protecting tradition and religion; preserving virginity, chastity and family honour; improving marriage prospects. It results in pain, emotional and health problems.
FGM has existed for over 2000 years and is a major human rights and health problem, affecting up to 140 million women across 28 African countries.
It arouses strong emotional response, coming under increasingly intense international scrutiny. Each year 3m girls have FGM performed.
Ann-Marie has a vision to see a world free of FGM within her lifetime. Her strategy has 5 strands, namely:
1. Develop a network that shares knowledge, skills and resources.
2. Create educational resources for key African stakeholders.
3. Support girls to overcome psycho-sexual issues and complete education.
4. Advocate political pressure and public opinion that FGM is not practised.
5. Set up a monitoring and evaluation system to check progress.
Her hope is that by applying the lessons learned in the successful eradication of Chinese foot-binding and good practice in eradicating FGM, she can help create a network of all NGOs/change agents in the 28 countries and other Western countries to apply lobbying and advocacy ‘pressure’ on national governments, the African Union and the UN. These two strategies can affect a ‘pincer technique’ creating a domino effect for change to occur, at both ‘ends’ – ‘grassroots’ and ‘big picture’.
FGM could end in 3-5 generations (once an uncut girl doesn’t cut her daughter or granddaughter and becomes an advocate to the next two generations).