10th Anniversary of the Desert Flower Foundation
Dear friends and supporters,
After working as an UN Special ambassador since 1997, in 2002 I decided to found my own organization, the Desert Flower Foundation.
The main goal of the Foundation for me was to raise worldwide awareness on the issue of FGM through media coverage, to lobby against FGM with political leaders and other NGO´s and to make people aware that FGM does not only exist in Africa, parts of Asia and Middle East but also in the west, in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
As I knew from African communities in Europe, FGM is widespread and even practiced in these countries. I therefore decided to organize an undercover investigation with my team all over Europe.
It took us two years and we investigated in London, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Malmö, Helsinki, Oslo, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona ad Lisbon. The result was shocking: At least 500,000 girls are affected in Europe and more young girls become victims of this torturous practice every day.
We met many girls who were victims of Female Genital Mutilation; we met religious leaders promoting FGM and religious leaders opposing FGM, leaders of African communities, African artists, human rights activists, representatives of NGO´s, politicians, social services, doctors and midwives in hospitals, teachers and nurses in kindergartens, women who performed FGM in Europe.
We attended court hearings against parents who mutilated their daughters in France. We met Doctor Foldes, who as the only surgeon performs reconstructive surgery of clitoris and labia for FGM victims in France.
We collected a research material of more than 4 000 pages and 350 hours of recordings.
Then, we produced a book about FGM called Desert Children and presented the collected material to the Council of Ministers in Brussels in January 2006 to discuss direct measures against FGM. After our meeting, almost all countries implemented or strengthen their existing laws against FGM and initiative campaigns against FGM.
Since 2002, more than 3000 stories have been initiated by us on television, radio, in newspapers, magazines and on blogs.
We have launched the first social media campaign against FGM, STOP FGM NOW, which was awarded as the best Social Media Campaign 2010.
As an associate producer of the film “Desert Flower”, the Desert Flower Foundation consulted the production of the film in 2008 and supported the launch around the globe from 2009. Up today, the movie was successfully released in 34 countries.
Today, the film is used by many NGO´s from UN Women to our own Foundation to as an important tool to educate people and raise awareness about this cruel practice.
In our online consulting service, firstname.lastname@example.org, we have received over 100,000 emails since 2002 and every one of them was answered.
Many of them were women affected or threatened by FGM, students preparing a presentation or dissertation about FGM and organizations that wish to initiate their own campaign against FGM.
Today, the staff of our Foundation consists of nine people developing new campaigns, and handling the thousands of requests and the Foundation is currently mentioned 1,180,000 times on Google.
In 2011, we decided to launch a new campaign and strategy TOGETHER FOR AFRICAN WOMEN. We are convinced that women have to come out of poverty first, before eradicating the problem of FGM in Africa. Therefore in 2012, we started investing in education and vocational training, especially for women.
We support social investments to create an income for African women; because we believe that it is the most important to give women income and empower them so they are able to take their own decisions about their bodies and the bodies of their daughters. You will read more about this on our
Our Blog http://warisdirie.wordpress.com/
YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/WarisTheDesertFlower