Challenging traditions around FGM
6 February 2013
Women from a Plan-supported female literacy class in Egypt discuss FGM.
Safaa is 23 years old and lives in a slum area in Egypt with her husband, two sons and a daughter.
Growing up, Safaa’s family was very poor and, like other girls in her community, she married young.
"Once I got married, I got so busy with my children, and I forgot about myself and my rights. Even if I was very young, I started to behave like my mother and like many other women in my community, replicating behaviours and traditions that were very hard on girls. Even traditions that I had criticised before like female genital mutilation, I considered for my daughter," she says.
However Safaa's attitude changed when her neighbour invited her to a women's awareness support group.
Women's awareness groups are an important part of Plan's efforts to reduce the practice of female genital mutilation in Egypt. The groups provide a space for girls and women to express themselves, openly discuss issues that are important to them, increase their self-confidence, and improve their understanding of basic life skills and reproductive health.
"At the support group I heard about self-confidence and self-esteem. I also heard about female genital mutilation and early marriage from doctors and religious men. I learned that it has no benefit for girls. It also has health and psychological harms on the girl.
"I made a decision: not to let my daughter go through this hard experience. I shared what I had heard and my decision with my husband and I was able to convince him.
"I am very grateful for these awareness sessions offered by Plan. I want to raise my children better than I was raised. I now know that I have a very important role in my family and have the right to share decisions with my husband."
Today is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Donate to GirlsFund to ensure that girls get the opportunities they deserve.