Break The Silence Week: Pledging to Speak Up For Women and Girls
There Is No Limit Foundation Co-Founders, Aissata M.B. Camara, and Mariama Petrolawicz, marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation today, by announcing the start of Break The Silence Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness and driving action to end FGM. In Guinea, community awareness events will be organized, as well as, the launch on national radio stations of the Break The Silence song by popular Guinean artists. In the United States, the Break The Silence Global Coalition to end FGM will also start accepting applications for membership. Media and social media campaigns will round out the week.
“We are proud to announce Break The Silence Week and the targeted activities we’ve developed to raise the visibility of FGM. Zero Tolerance Day is a reminder each year to work harder to protect women and girls’ rights to their bodies. I am grateful to my team for their hard work and call on everyone to break their silence for women and girls” said Mariama Petrolawicz, Co-Founder, and President.
Break the Silence Week will start each year on February 6 and end on February 12. The campaign mobilizes people worldwide to speak up and take action to end harmful practices and violence against individuals. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the first campaign under this banner. It’s a fun week, with a serious message, a week when people will ‘activate’ to shine a spotlight on FGM.
“Break The Silence Week is an homage to those we’ve lost to this harmful practice and a tribute to survivors like my sister Mariama and I. It’s also an opportunity for us to control how our stories are told; the same way we are advocating for control over our bodies” said Aissata M.B. Camara, Co-Founder. “This Week is important in this movement because it challenges everyone to speak up and act. I believe that Break The Silence Week will lead us closer to a world free from FGM.”
In Guinea, There Is No Limit Foundation will host a march in the community of Djene, in the region of Kissidougou. Community members will also participate in a youth-led training on FGM followed by testimonials and a community lunch. In the capital, artists who collaborated on the Break The Silence song will hold media availability. They will also visit with high-level officials to advocate for more accountability in the implementation of FGM laws.
“FGM, like other harmful practices needs to end. We need people of all socio-economic backgrounds to speak up. I have seen the impact we have made on other issues and I look forward to our continued contribution to this movement. We’ve been fighting FGM for many years and each day we get closer to victory,” said Mafoudia Bangoura, Vice President, Guinea.
The Republic of Guinea has the second highest rate of FGM in the world at over 96%. FGM has no medical benefits; it’s also not a religious requirement.
Some women and girls suffer from serious physical and emotional consequences as a result of the practice, including problems during child birth, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). FGM also has a heavy economic impact both for women and entire communities.
“As a man, I am proud to be an ally in this movement. I am happy see the shift in people’s attitude. I am proud to be a role model for young men in the communities we serve; I help them understand that talking about FGM doesn’t have to be a taboo. We are ready to march and to continue working to spread the message of abandonment. I know that one day, FGM will end in Guinea because of our transformative work,” said Moussa Diawara, Program Director.
In the United States, There Is No Limit Foundation will launch the Break The Silence website and start accepting applications for the Break The Silence Global Coalition. This Global Coalition is an inclusive group of organizations working together to end FGM in one generation. There Is No Limit Foundation’s goal is to make the Global Coalition the leading and unified voice on FGM. Members are tasked with raising awareness about FGM and sharing best practices while promoting the dignity and security of the people affected. Members will access capacity building training in areas such as organizing, fundraising, program development and implementation, and storytelling.
“We are launching the Global Coalition after identifying a gap in the movement. There are many segmented groups working on this issue but there needs to be more cohesion,” said Patricia Mars, Associate, Partnerships. “We are providing an opportunity for like-minded organizations to work with us on a unified message while building our capacities. This is important if we want to win this fight.”
A social media campaign will round out the week. People worldwide will participate by sharing videos of why they broke their silence and why it’s important to protect women and girls’ rights. The website provides resources people can use to educate themselves and to raise awareness about FGM.
Activities under the Break The Silence Campaign are possible through to the support of the Global Wallace Fund and other generous donors.