Why we have to take action at the Girl Summit | ActionAid UK

“I often think of suicide”. This is the final line from a young girl whose story was sent to me this week. This girl is 16 years old and from Ghana. She was forced to undergo female genital mutilation as a small child and was told that having her genitals mutilated would make her attractive to potential husbands and ensure she was faithful to him. 

Girls in Kenya use song and dance to send an anti-FGM message
Girls in Kenya use song and dance to send an anti-FGM message

This 16 year old girl now spends her time talking to others about the horrible effects of female genital mutilation in the hope that other girls won’t have to go through the same.

We’re at the Girl Summit

This story amongst many that we read daily, is one reason we’re at today’s Girl Summit, hosted by the UK Government and aimed at tackling female genital mutilation, and forced child marriage.

Organisations from around the world are gathering in London to listen and share collective expertise of working to eradicate these practices. They will discuss which approaches work and make commitments to end FGM and forced early marriage together.  Hopefully if we can all make these commitments individually and stick to them collectively we won’t in future see stories of girls who contemplate suicide because they have been mutilated.

Some facts about child, early forced marriage and female genital mutilation

One girl in seven in the developing world is married before she reaches the age of 15. Girls married young are more likely to experience violence, abuse and rape. The impact of early forced marriage is wide reaching; girls tend to drop out of school and are trapped with no education and no economic choices.

Three million girls a year are at risk of female genital mutilation. It exists because it has been seen as a social norm, one that in some communities often leads directly to child marriage. The procedure has devastating effects, including long lasting health and psychological complications.

As part of today’s Girl Summit we have committed to four key areas, to:

  • Share our understanding and any research on what works to reduce the prevalence of female genital mutilation.
  • Increase contact with relevant groups such as feminist, religious, youth and child rights groups in our five key countries and globally.
  • Join together with other organisations and programmes to build momentum and advocate for ending female genital mutilation and child and early forced marriage.