February: the month of Valentine's and…vaginas

Anella Wickenden's picture Anella Wickenden Youth Engagement Manager

There’s a day in February that you’ve probably never heard of, but we think it’s time this day became huge...

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

It takes place on 6 February and was set up by the UN to make the world aware of female genital mutilation and to promote its eradication.

#endFGM photo action

So why haven’t we heard about it? Maybe it’s because of the g-word? I like to think I’m pretty mature, but that word still gives me cringey flashbacks to awkward school biology lessons. I can’t help feeling this day would be better known by now if it was about another part of the body.

Talking about female genital mutilation might make us uncomfortable, but we should feel more uncomfortable with doing nothing, because for millions of women and girls uncomfortable doesn’t come anywhere close to describing the physical and psychological trauma. 

What is female genital mutilation?

Female genital mutilation involves the partial or total removal of a girl’s external genitals (the clitoris and labia). The procedure causes extreme pain and a risk of haemorrhage which can lead to death. In the long term, girls face severe pain during urination and intercourse, recurrent bladder infections and possible infertility.

In its most extreme form, girls also have their vaginas sewn up, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood. Girls who are subjected to this form of female genital mutilation face being cut open over and over again for sex and childbirth.

Help us #endFGM

On Thursday 6 February we’re kicking off a month of action. We want to raise awareness and get people talking about female genital mutilation, because we can only end it if we stop feeling awkward and say enough is enough. Please help by uploading a photo and showing your support.

#endFGM photo actionSam shows his support.

1. Take a photo of yourself making a diamond shape with the words #END FGM written on your fingers. Make sure you can read it.

2. Upload it to Instagram with #endFGM and tag in @bollockstopoverty.

3. If you’re not on Instagram, then just take a photo and upload it to Facebook (/bollockstopoverty) or Twitter (@ActionAidBTP) with #endFGM.

You can make a massive difference by showing everyone you support the fight to #endFGM and by getting your friends involved.

The average person has 200 friends on Facebook, if you get three of your mates to upload a photo to Facebook too – then you’ve helped us reach 900 people!

Photos: ActionAid