Story told by LWF-Goro staff Tsige Assefa. Written by Heather Pryse. 2011
On March 8th, people all over the world will gather to celebrate the “International Day of Women”. International Women’s Day is a global occasion to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. Communities in Goro, a small district in south eastern Ethiopia, have much to celebrate this year!
In Goro, LWF was recently able to mobilize 88 influential religious leaders from the region to sign a petition to put an end of the inhuman practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The final product is comparable to a legal document which unites the people of Goro district in a combined effort to put an end to the butchering of young girls and women and to halt this grave human rights violation
Sadly, Ethiopia has some of the highest rates of FGM in all of Africa, where roughly 3 in 4 women are forced to undergo the harmful tradition. The rate is declining, but change comes slow. With the current rate of decline it will take until 2080 to see the elimination of this dehumanizing practice.
Such alarmingly high prevalence rates demand immediate and effective action to combat this custom. LWF Ethiopia and the communities in Goro District are determined to be the forerunners to spearhead this action.
Tsige Aseffa is a gender officer in LWF’s community development project in Goro, and she tells that the break through with the petition came after years of consultations and mutual discussions with the communities which managed to debunk the belief that FGM was supported by the Koran.
Tsige and her colleagues also launched a massive sensitization and awareness raising campaign to educate communities on the physical and psychologically damaging repercussions of FGM- including severe bleeding, lifelong pain, infection, trauma, risk of HIV contraction and increased likelihood of adverse events during child birth etc.
The ceremony that took place during the signing of the petition has been captured on video and the documentation will serve as a reminder of the determination of many to improve the quality of life for their young girls and women.
Although the outcomes of the breakthrough in Goro are hard to determine, LWF- Ethiopia and the individuals who participated in this effort are confident that change is on its way!