On Friday, March 8, Andrea and Meagan, staff of WDP USA, attended an event sponsored by Mpanzi, held as part of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Mpanzi was a 2012 WDP USA grant recipient, so we were eager to hear their stories firsthand. Mpanzi is dedicated to promoting peace and development in rural African communities through education, women’s empowerment, health and livelihoods. The focus of this particular workshop was on how faith communities can help to end the cultural practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM). We heard from Christine Mangale, a board member of Mpanzi and Program Coordinator for the Lutheran Office for World Community, and from Jackie Ogega, Co-Founder and Director of Mpanzi.
Among the other presentations, Jackie shared with us her own experience of FGM. She told us about the courage it took to finally have a conversation with her mother and sister about their shared experience of FGM, and about the commitment she had made to her own daughter, now in college, to not let her be cut. Jackie told us that for her, going through FGM is a kind of coming-of-age ritual that young girls, including herself at the time, look forward to. If we want to end FGM, Jackie told us, we must help communities to develop new ways to acknowledge girls’ becoming part of adult society.
Another presenter, Ann Marie Wilsom, from 28 Too Many, shared with us that the practice of footbinding was eliminated in 16 years once organizations began a coordinated effort to end it. She shared her hope that FGM can be eliminated in 3 generations. By supporting Mpanzi, each woman who is part of WDP USA is contributing to this work!