You are currently viewing The story of the new frontline feminist movement, #FrontLineEndingFGM 

The story of the new frontline feminist movement, #FrontLineEndingFGM 

Over 1000 activists from 10 countries are involved in the launch of #FrontlineEndingFGM backed by the UNFPA, the EU, USAID, The Global Media Campaign, and the Wallace Global Fund. Media-trained by the Global Media Campaign – the activists and frontliners have been campaigning locally, often using the media, and have already run over 2600 media campaigns since work began in 2013.    

Who’s behind it, why , the tactics and background

The decision to set up #FrontlineEndingFGM was taken to persuade donors to fund the frontline directly. Substantial Evidence over 40 years in 70 countries has shown that local organisations are best placed to bring about change.    

Despite the millions invested by donor governments less than 2 percent of funding is reaching the mostly women-led organisations that are doing the work.

Made up of local activists and campaigners- some of them- though not all – trained over the last decade by the Global Media Campaign, the Wallace Global Fund, and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the movement was launched at Lake Naivasha, Kenya in November, 17th 2022. Watch the video below to understand who is involved and why it was set up.

Already Operating in 10 countries with frontline feminists already trained at intense 5-day boot camps on media and campaign tactics in the Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Somalia. 

#FrontlineEndingFGM – the aim

The aim is to extend the highly successful blueprint of the GMC/UNFPA media campaigns to all FGM-practising countries. The model is based on passionate local feminist leaders like Vincent Mwiti, below campaigning on December 28th in the Kuria regions of Kenya against holiday cutting.   

These activists are accelerating the fight against FGM with media campaign training in local languages and buying local radio and TV airtime to get the anti-FGM message out. Supported by the UNFPA they have also been involved in training national media journalists directly- and can call on them when the school holiday-cutting seasons begin.

#FrontlineEndingFGM works very closely with government departments in all countries  helping  the government stakeholders (such as the police)  with in depth community knowledge on which girls are most at risk.  Police officers are most pro active in arresting cutters and need support.   #FrontlneEndingFGM campaigers are all volunteers who -as well as running continuous local sessions in a villages  also arrange to get the local influencers (religious and community leaders, police chiefs ) onto the cheap local radio talk shows to remind the communities that FGM is illegal and that arrests will be made. 

Founding member of #FrontlineEndingFGM, Vincent Mwita TV on national TV news calling for help for girls on the run from a news report about saving girls in Kuria youtube link

#FrontlineEndingFGM biggest financial backer is the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) which has already invested almost $2 million in supporting the activist’s boot camps where #FrontlineEndingFGM is trained locally and paying for the airtime – so the anti-FGM campaigners can put the police, religious leaders, and other figures in authority on air condemning the practice. 

Nafissatou Diop, Chief of Gender and Human Rights at UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. 

“It is clear what we need to do is to back the local frontline feminists and do so at scale, #FrontlineEndingFGM gives us the mechanism to do that. UNFPA and the Global Media Campaign have been building and supporting frontline activists for nearly 10 years now but #FrontlineEndingFGM will speed things up”

Nafissatou Diop, Chief of Gender and Human Rights at UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. 

The launch of #FrontlineEndingFGM in Kenya was also supported by the EU and USAID.

Also backing the #FrontlineEndingFGM at the launch in Kenya is the EU ambassador to Kenya, Henriette Geiger. Seen here speaking with, Ifrah Ahmad, Founder of the Ifrah Foundation who leads #FrontlineEndingFGM in Somalia.
Cathy Odera of USAID also attended the launch retreat where #FrontlineEndingFGM was launched. “It’s time to shift the power,” she said. 
Domtila Chesang founding member of #FrontlineEndingFGM and founder of  I_Rep Foundation(I am Responsible Foundation)  in Tapach ward village in West Pokot, Kenya over 90 percent are at risk over the Christmas holidays, 28th December 2022.    

 “It is enough to simply turn up with the police and to tell them to stop. We expected them to be hostile, but they were open to us, Working with the administration is key. It cost $700 dollars to get to all these villages but the people are listening to us- they are not hostile. IT WORKS!”

Domtila Chesang, founding member of #FrontlineEndingFGM.

#FrontlineEndingFGM also launched the Frontline Feminist Directory – a key tool identifying where the #FrontlineEndingFGM local organisations are.

“Critical to the success of #FrontlineEndingFGM is building the definitive guide to all the most effective frontline feminists groups,” that’s according to Jeremiah Kipainoi, the Director of Communication at the Global Media Campaign who has been working with.

Frontline Feminist Map

“Mapping grassroots is what we have been missing”

Catherine Odera (USAID)

#FrontlineEndingFGM Background and Summary:

40 years of research in over 70 countries shows funding frontline feminist organisation works best, yet Frontline feminist organisations receive less than 2* percent of donor funding. (OECD, Gates Foundation). The US Wallace Global Fund has spent 40 years campaigning to End FGM. 

“We know what to do and we know we have to back the frontline and this not going to happen without getting behind them big-time. It’s time to go big or go home,”

Susan Gibbs, Director of the Women’s Rights programme at the Wallace Global Fund. 

The European Union, the World Bank, USAID, Amplify Change, and Give Directly, are now among those actively backing #FrontlineEndingFGM after the launch at Lake Naivasha, Kenya in November.

Background

Work to support the frontline feminist organisations started almost 10 years ago with local campaigners supported by UNFPA and the Global Media Campaign focusing on local media to get the message across. 

Here are some recent examples of Frontline Ending FGM campaigning:

Domtila Chesang human rights defender and founder of  I_Rep Foundation(I am Responsible Foundation) and her team walking for 4 hours across steep Mountains to reach the Chongis in Tapach ward village in West Pokot, Kenya on Wednesday 28th December 2022: The ground was so slippy they had to take off their shoes and go barefoot.

The visits were not only to create awareness but also to appeal to them to cease fire and to stop cutting their girls, and also to talk about the law. On Thursday accompanied by a senior and local administration police officer, the village was warned of what will happen if they break the law. 

Also supporting the campaigners:

Other key backers of this feminist frontline movement #FrontlineEndingFGM are The Human Dignity Foundation, the Olwyn Foundation, Plan Denmark (Mali), Plan Germany (Guinea), The Soroptimists, Irish Aid, and USAID.

Their best results are In Tana River, Kenya, where after three years of the relentless campaign, led by Sadia Hussein of Brighter Society Initiative, the acceptance rates towards Type 3 FGM fell from 89 to 5 percent.  Click here to read more.

The Global Media Campaign supports FrontlineEndingFGM by being a funding pipeline to these feminist organisations, building their capacity with their bespoke #FrontlineEndingFGM bootcamps in local languages.

Next Steps:

Officially launch of #FrontlineEndingFGM in Dakar on March 29th, 2023

Frontline FGM Bootcamps (where veteran campaigners train their younger sister campaigners:

  • Dakar- March, 2023
  • Guinea/Liberia, April
  • Chad/Mauritania, June
  • Sudan-September, 2023
#FrontlineEndingFgm in action across Africa: December 2022

Maggie O'Kane

Maggie O’Kane is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Global Media Campaign to End FGM. A former European, Amnesty International and British Journalist of the Year, she was also the Multi-media Investigations Editor at the Guardian and also founded #GuardianFilms, the Guardian’s Emmy Award-winning film unit. She is also one of the founding members of #FrontlineEndingFGM established with The Wallace Global Fund and UNFPA to shift power and funding to frontline feminist organisations across Africa ending FGM.