A teenage activist committed to raising awareness of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) has been honoured at the Good Housekeeping Women of the Year Awards.
Fahma Mohamed, 17, from Bristol, won Outstanding Young Campaigner of the Year yesterday afternoon. She received the accolade in recognition of her “passion, drive and overwhelming determination” to prevent FGM and protect girls across the UK.
How long has she been campaigning?
When she was 14, she began volunteering with Integrate Bristol, which facilitates youth-led work around FGM and campaigns against all forms of inequality and gender-based violence.
She became a trustee of the charity aged 16 and in February this year she launched a petition calling on Michael Gove, the former Education Secretary, to write to all schools in England and Wales reminding them of their duty to safeguard girls from FGM.
Did she succeed?
Within three weeks the petition had attracted nearly 250,000 signatures and gained the public support of the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who said he had been inspired after meeting the young activist.
Surely such a barbaric practice as FGM is outlawed?
It is illegal in the UK, but campaigners have warned that the practice still continues and current laws do not adequately ensure the protection of girls in practising cultures.
Lindsay Nicholson, editorial director of Good Housekeeping, paid tribute to Ms Mohamed yesterday, stating she was “delighted” to honour her with the award. She added that Ms Mohamed had proved “that you don’t need access, influence or a large staff to effect real change – just passion, drive and overwhelming determination”.
Was Ms Mohamed happy to have her work recognised?
Speaking at the ceremony, Ms Mohamed said: “There are so many women in the UK campaigning for what they believe in and it still hasn't sunk in that the judges chose to give me this award.
"I'm excited to be named as one of the women of the year… I feel it’s acknowledging the importance of eradicating FGM and protecting the rights of girls all over the world.”