Diakonia - People change the world
"Many people didn’t trust me and I was regularly thrown out of people's homes when I told them what I wanted to talk about. But I didn't give up. Through meetings and training programmes, people started to understand what I was talking about, and they started listening to me and trusting me.", says Ghada. Photo: Shawn Baldwin

Ghada's successful fight against FGM

Ghada Abdel Raof in Egypt is a passionate change maker who is working courageously against female genital mutilation (FGM).

11/5/2013 Publisher: Magdalena Ackeberg

Works to counteract FGM in Egypt

"Like most Egyptian women, I was genitally mutilated," Ghada recounts. "My sisters and I were circumcised at the same time. My older sister bled a lot and suffered from the after-effects for a long time. Personally, I remember being terrified. I will never forget that day," says Ghada Abdel Raof, who comes from a village close to the city of Minya in Egypt.

Through the organization BLACD, Better Life Association for Comprehensive Development, Ghada is now involved in efforts to counteract FGM (Female Genital Mutilation).

Better life for people in poverty

BLACD works to improve living conditions for poor people living in the Nile Delta north of Cairo. This includes raising awareness of the rights of inhabitants of the region and how they should claim these rights.

The organization also supports local initiatives regarding advocacy work on rights, women fighting for their rights, children against child labour, etc. BLACD contributed to a nationwide dialogue on children’s rights that led to recognition of these rights and a ban on FGM.

No link between FGM and religion

"I heard about BLACD’s project to prevent FGM through my friends. At BLACD, I learned lots of things, including that FGM isn't part of our religion at all; instead, it's an ancient social and cultural tradition. I wanted to pass on the knowledge I had acquired and started talking to the people in my village. Many people didn’t trust me and I was regularly thrown out of people's homes when I told them what I wanted to talk about. But I didn't give up. Through meetings and training programmes, people started to understand what I was talking about, and they started listening to me and trusting me."

Efforts paid off

Since Ghada and other members of BLACD's staff started informing people in the village, several positive changes have taken place. Occurrences of FGM have decreased drastically. The girls now know more about their rights and they have learned to stand up for them.

In 2008 legislation was adopted that criminalises FGM in Egypt.

Men also involved

"I haven't just talked to the women in my village," says Ghada. "I've also educated the men on this issue as they play an important role in rejecting the tradition. I dream of a future where female genital mutilation no longer occurs anywhere."