Fatuma Abdulkadir Adan

End FGM Ambassador

Kenya

Fatuma is passionate about the power of football to bring about social change and break the silence on FGM. She set up HODI (The Horn of Africa Development Initiative) to use football to foster peace, advocacy and education and is currently a UN Champion on Gender Equality for the Sustainable Development Goals.


We have a very good opportunity to amplify our voices, break the silence and END FGM in our Generation. The time is now and not tomorrow with the movement we have created!

Tell us about yourself.

After training as a lawyer and being admitted to the bar, I founded the Horn of Africa Development Initiative – HODI - in 2003, a non-governmental organisation which uses football to foster peace, advocacy and education for vulnerable children and building resilient communities. In 2008, I initiated Breaking the Silence on FGM, Early Marriage and beading through football. In March 2017, I was nominated to Champion Goal 5 on Gender Equality by the Kenyan Gender Minister during the UN Convention on the Status of Women in New York.

How and why did you begin working on the issue of FGM?

I have personally undergone the cut and I was not allowed to speak about it as a child and even as a grown woman. When I started the organisation, I felt there was need to break the silence on FGM. It was a way to understand what each one of us went through and to come up with most innovative strategies on how to first talk about FGM, learn about the side effects  and move as a community towards ending FGM.

I still strongly believe no one else can force a community to change their way of life; not even legislation. Instead we need to take one step at a time to get the information out in local languages that our communities understand and slowly build consensus to end FGM.

I am not a victim and I was pushed to this space because so many people assume the role of speaking for the women and girls who have undergone the cut. I am a survivor and I am resource person for my community and I will be a Champion to END FGM

What are you good at? What are your strengths?


Fatuma is a board member of Streetfootballworld.

My strengths lie mainly in using my legal background to create linkages between customary laws and legal framework. I am a mover, always wanting to be engaged and I am not type that will stand on the side-lines. I love networking and building synergy without forgetting to champion for gender equality. At HODI, we are currently working in152 villages in Marsabit County in Kenya. In 2014 in Brazil, I was elected to the Board of ‘Streetfootballworld’ which brings together 125 organisations from 78 countries using football for Social Change. I am the 1st African Woman to serve on the Board and currently a champion for Gender Equality and Youth Leadership. In 2017, I was nominated to champion GOAL 5 on Gender Equality with an active presence on social media, wiki page and as a blogger.

 

I am a mover, always wanting to be engaged and I am not type that will stand on the side-lines.

What would you say is your most significant contribution to ending FGM?

Creating the innovative, award winning intervention of ‘Breaking the Silence on FGM through Football’ which has engaged 1500 girls.  I’ve used every opportunity to break the silence on FGM be it in forums, conferences or high level meetings – and I have even produced a you tube clip on FGM.

One area of my work has been in creating an alternative livelihood for the traditional cutters in Marsabit and saving 60 girls from the cut. The women earned from performing FGM and they had no other skills or knowledge to earn a living. We initiated the community dialogue and the women came forth and made a commitment not to cut the girls if they received other skills. We trained them on alternative livelihoods and gave the women start-up grants to initiate small businesses.

 

What are some of the challenges faced as an ambassador or as a champion while working towards ending FGM?

Access to resources on ending FGM has been a key hindrance and use of football is seen as just a game. There is need for more tangible investment into the FGM work but also the need to look at the whole development of the girl rather than just FGM on its own. Working with the girls and women alone will not end FGM but engaging the boys and the men alongside the girls/women has been another approach we have initiated. I am also tired of the negative narrative that surrounds FGM. It is high time we changed the narrative into a positive story and appreciation for our own voices in the narrative.

It is high time we changed the narrative into a positive story and appreciation for our own voices in the narrative.

What emerging opportunities do you have in your work as an End FGM ambassador?

The biggest opportunity I see is in my role as Global Champion for Goal 5 on Gender Equality and this includes ending harmful cultural practices including FGM. The whole world is rallying behind the SDGs and as HODI we are leading the way as champions. My passion for football gets me invited to high level forums, conferences and meetings and I will use the opportunity to talk about FGM.

We have a very good opportunity to amplify our voices, break the silence and END FGM in our Generation. The time is now and not tomorrow with the movement we have created!

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