Ahead of the Girl Summit, the UK government hosted #YouthForChange - an event developed by young people for young people to ignite action around girls’ rights and strengthen young people as leaders of the future. On the day, 16-year-old Grace Keppel - who hopes to become a human rights and animal rights journalist - took part in the youth newsroom.
This is Grace’s winning blog summing up her experiences at #YouthForChange.
During the #YouthForChange event one story particularly shocked me. A girl attending the event from the Maldives told me how her grandmother and mother had been forced to have Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and how one night - while her mother was sleeping - her grandmother took this girl, only 2-years-old, to carry out FGM on her.
Seconds before the procedure happened her mother awoke and saved the girl I was talking to from the life-long consequences of FGM.
This story made no sense to me. What causes an older woman to continue this tradition, when they themselves have first-hand experience of the pain and complications it brings? Precious Simba, one of the #sheroes from the event, talked about how women who have suffered from FGM have a weight on their shoulders, a need to show someone else the pain they have to deal with every day.
I was surprised to find that the girl herself was only told this life-affecting story a week ago. The topic is such a huge taboo. No one speaks about the issue of FGM, because it has damaged so many people in the past.
This is another reason why older women continue to cut their own children or grandchildren - it is all they know. If no one talks about it, they can only go by personal experience, what they have had done to them, and what they believe is the norm.
The big push now is to get people talking, in all areas of the world, rural or urban, developed or developing. If every child grows up believing FGM is not normal or purposeful, then we could end FGM in one generation.
That is all it took for the girl's family in the Maldives, one brave mother, who fought for her child's rights to her own body.
Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DFID or have the support of the British government.
On 22 July 2014 the UK government hosted the first Girl Summit, aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. You can find out more at: www.gov.uk/girlsummit2014