Our herstory, 35+ years on
1981 – 1983
We are founded by Efua Dorkenoo OBE. Building on her FGM advocacy work she played a pivotal role in conceptualising FGM as a human rights issue and a violation of women and children’s rights within the United Nations frameworks.
We were formally registered as a charity, and lead the campaign to have FGM criminalised and lobbied for the UK’s first law against FGM – The Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act.
We released ‘Out of Sight Out of Mind?: Survey into Inter-Agency Policies and Procedures Relating to FGM in England and Wales’ – the first ever data gathered on how many women and girls are affected by FGM and how cases were being managed in the UK.
We held the first Study Conference on Female Genital Mutilation of Girls in Europe which was attended by professionals from all over Europe and as far as Canada.
We helped establish the first African Well-Women Clinic at the Northwick Park Hospital in London, which was the first to provide specialist FGM services in the UK.
We played a key role as one of the two non-governmental organisations called upon to assist the World Health Organisation (WHO) in developing a resolution on FGM and Harmful traditional practices.
Our founder Efua Dorkenoo published ‘Cutting the Rose: Female Genital Mutilation – The Practice and Its Prevention’ – the first book to cover comprehensive studies on FGM and is still recognised as a valuable resource today. In 2002, the book was voted one of Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century.
We launched our first programme in Africa, in The Gambia. The project implemented the first alternative rites of passage without cutting approach. Within just a year of the project, our partner, The Foundation for Research on Women’s Health, Productivity and the Environment, documented a 40% drop in girls undergoing FGM in the Fulladu and Niamina Districts.
We launched the first Forum on Marriage and the Rights of Women and Girls, in partnership with Save the Children, Anti-Slavery International, and CHANGE, and IPPF. The forum focused on early and forced marriage, non-consensual sex in marriage, domestic and family violence, and FGM.
We established the sister organisation ‘FORWARD-Nigeria’ to address maternal health in Nigeria. Our partnership lasted 10 years and focused on supporting women affected by obstetric fistula.
We launched our first project mobilising and engaging men against FGM in Africa.