If you follow me on Twitter or in Instagram, you’ll know that I have just made a whistle stop tour to Ethiopia. I left on Saturday night, arrived in Addis Ababa Sunday morning, flew to Bahir Dar on Monday afternoon, and returned to Addis and thence to London on Tuesday night.
Why did I do this? On July 22nd, the UK will host world leaders and policy makers at the Girl Summit, aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage within a generation, The Home Secretary Theresa May and Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening will host the event, alongside heads of state, practitioners, survivors, charities and community groups. UNICEF will act as co-hosts of the event.
I was invited to Ethiopia by Girl Effect, an organisation underwritten by The Nike Foundation to empower girls in the developing world, to gain an insight into the life of girls in the country: the challenges they face, the reality and impact of child marriage and FGM and the critical importance of giving girls a voice. Ethiopia was chosen as the location for the trip due to the strong commitment of the government and the positive steps being taken to address and end these harmful practises.
I’ll be posting lots more from my trip over the next week: it’s been a privilege to listen to the stories of the girls that I met in Ethiopia, and I hope that you’ll be as astounded by their courage as I was.
You can sign the pledge to end female genital mutilation and child marriage here
Photograph: Copyright James Hassam