Schoolgirls of African descent joined Scottish Minister for Equalities Christina McKelvie and Glasgow's Lord Provost Eva Bolander to launch a community-led research project to mark International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) on Wednesday, February 6.
Around 20 children aged 14-17 from Notre Dame High School in Glasgow have become champions of the Enhancing Transcultural Participation (ETP) – through preventing FGM research project.
The project is led by GCU Senior Lecturer and researcher Dr Ima Jackson, and GCU PhD student and ETP researcher Judy Wasige, in partnership with KWISA, Glasgow City Council’s English as a Second Language (EAL) Service. It is funded by the Scottish Government and European Social Fund.
The ETP project is developing a strategy to manage relationships between individual people, community groups, policymakers, researchers, government and third sector organisations. It specifically focuses on FGM policy and involves KWISA, an African women-led community organisation, and schoolchildren from Notre Dame High School.
Dr Jackson said: “This project links into other campaigns like #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and ‘decolonising the academy’, giving a voice to young people, and a range of perspectives, particularly young women of African descent who have very few opportunities to be heard. To me this is about Scotland learning how to make this to happen through the ETP project.
“Representation matters in all areas of life and Scotland with its demographic changes has to develop processes in order to ensure that those who are being researched and who policy is made about are right in there. Historically this has not happened and it cannot continue.
“FGM and lack of voice for young women is a global issue. Most of the project participants come from communities who historically have practiced FGM and hence have links between Scotland and the communities’ ‘back home’ where they can potentially influence internationally as well as nationally.”
Minister for Equalities Christina McKelvie said it was a “great project” bringing people and communities together and importantly involving young people in preventing FGM.
“FGM is an unacceptable and illegal practice. We are firmly committed to eradicating it from our society. There are no quick fixes to tackling FGM, and honour-based violence more widely, it needs a worldwide response so I am delighted that this project has led to women and girls being empowered to speak out and against such violence and be part of the global effort to protect women and girls from FGM,” she added.
Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “This impressive project raising awareness of FGM is so important. Let’s be clear FGM is illegal and must be stopped. I’m delighted to lend my support to women and girls challenging this cruel practice.”