THE FIVE FOUNDATION, THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP TO END FGM
You might also like to read our letter to donors here and our letter to UK Prime MInister, Boris Johnson, about banning “child marriage” in England and Wales!
The Five Foundation is the Global Partnership To End FGM. Founded by leading survivor activist, author and political strategist, Nimco Ali OBE, and communications strategist, Brendan Wynne, our aim is to prioritise the urgent and underfunded issue of female genital mutilation (FGM), a devastating abuse that has affected over 200 million women and girls around the world. If we don’t get this right now, 70 million more girls will be forced to undergo it by 2030.
We are in the process of building the strongest partnership globally on this issue and have engaged over 80 partners including Action Aid, Plan International, the ONE Campaign, Women for Women International and Global Fund For Women, as well as dozens of grassroots women’s organisations. Please watch our introductory video here.
Business as usual and working through traditional ‘aid architecture’ is not sufficiently reducing violence against women and girls in Africa. Nor is it building economic sustainability. With a decade to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, along with an urgent need to recover from COVID-19, we need to trust and empower women’s rights organisations and strengthen movements to deliver the structural changes needed to shift the dial on ending FGM and other forms of violence. Alongside this we also need to support the economic justice of African women so they can lift themselves, their families and their societies out of poverty and into prosperity.
The Five Foundation has an unparalleled track record of working to advocate for governments and major international media to engage in dramatic change on this issue. In 2020, Sudan banned FGM as a result of our advocacy – a country where nearly 9 out of every 10 women has been affected. It was covered by hundreds of media outlets including the New York Times. We have engaged international media on various FGM cases in Egypt, Kenya and around the world – including a recent case of a father who tricked his three daughters into FGM in Southern Egypt. The Five Foundation’s co-founders have also led much of the recent progress on the issue in the UK over the last decade, including the major media engagement and changes to laws and policies – most recently ensuring the inclusion of FGM in the Children’s Act.
The Five Foundation currently partners with a range of other African grassroots activists such as Samburu Girls Foundation and I-Rep Foundation in Kenya, and Safe Hands for Girls in The Gambia, led by Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Jaha Dukureh, to change laws and policies and demand change, while linking them with funding opportunities as well as some of the world’s most high profile media outlets.
Despite promises to do better and to be more participatory, donors have often used an approach to international aid that withholds power, excludes and disempowers women, and fails to increase the professional capacity of gender equality activists who lead change at the grassroots level.
The WHO estimates that FGM costs $1.4 billion in immediate and lifelong medical complications in 29 high prevalence countries, yet only $1 is available in funding for each women or girl affected – and next to nothing reaches the front lines, where actual change is happening. At this urgent juncture we need high net worth individuals, foundations and corporations to trust and directly fund African women, so we can collectively shift the dial on ending FGM, child marriage and other forms of violence, while addressing economic injustice and fueling Africa’s future prosperity. When this happens at scale, entire countries can benefit from the increased value of women and girls, who can now fully contribute, with less fear of being held back by the violence and discrimination committed against them.
Since FGM is often the first time a girl is told that she is not enough, preparing her for a life of violence and discrimination, we need to stem the tide from the beginning – but to break this cycle forever we need to empower women themselves. In the wake of COVID-19, which has exacerbated violence and discrimination against African women and girls – and which has exposed the enormous gaps in how international aid is given on the continent – let’s use this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to build back better.
“Work to end FGM and other forms of violence against African women and girls – and to build economic justice for Africans – must be led by Africans. For too long we have been talked at and used on the front cover of donor reports, but rarely funded as the active changemakers we are. We can only achieve Global Goal 5 for Africa if we trust African women and put money in their hands to be able to build a safer, more peaceful, more democratic and more prosperous future for the entire continent.” – Nimco Ali OBE, Co-Founder of The Five Foundation