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The campaign to end FGM is working: Gambia's president just banned the practice.

“I think the president cared about the issue, it was just something that was never brought to his attention." — Jaha Dukureh

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Gates Foundation

During his annual tour of Gambia, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh issued a surprising announcement: Effective immediately, the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) would be banned across the country.


President Yahya Jammeh at the United Nations. Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

The announcement was as unexpected as it was welcome. With more than 125 million women and girls subjected to the horrific procedure in Africa and the Middle East, any time a country says "no more," it's a significant development.

But that's not the only reason to celebrate this announcement.

Here's five more reasons the FGM ban is a big achievement:

1. The campaign to end FGM in Gambia was started by a young woman.

Jaha Dukureh has worked so hard to see this kind of progress. Image via Patrick Farrelly/YouTube.

For all the times it feels like politicians aren't listening to issues that really matter to their constituents, the story of anti-FGM activist Jaha Dukureh and her campaign to end FGM in her country is a kickass example of how of your voice and vote matter.

"I didn't expect this in a million years," she told the Guardian. "I'm just really proud of my country and I'm really, really happy."

“I think the president cared about the issue, it was just something that was never brought to his attention."

And speaking of voting...

2. It's election season in Gambia. Which makes President Jammeh's announcement a very bold move.

It's conventional wisdom that nothing gets done during an election cycle. Politicians are too busy trying to earn and hold on to votes to shake up the system or lose any potential voters.

But by making this announcement, Jammeh is showing that he cares more about the health and well-being of his country's women and girls than he cares about the people who disagree with him.

3. It'll save the lives and futures of so many girls.

Image via Patrick Farrelly/YouTube.

76% of Gambian women have been subjected to FGM. That's 3 in 4 girls. And by the age of 14, 56% of girls in the country have had the procedure.

But whether it's due to cultural or religious customs, FGM is an extreme form of misogyny and a human rights violation. There are zero health benefits from FGM. Intentionally mutilating female genitalia for non-medical reasons only causes harm to girls — in many ways — and can even be fatal.

When fewer girls have to worry about their health and dignity being taken away from them, the better off our entire world will be.

4. This announcement is getting people talking about FGM, which is more significant than you might think.

One of the biggest hurdles to ending FGM is that no one wants to talk about it. It's still considered a taboo subject for many people, not to mention that even just thinking about it can be enough to make you cringe.

But FGM isn't isolated to far-away countries; it also takes place in the United States. It's an issue that deserves global attention, but we'll never be able to end it if we're not educating ourselves about it and what we can do to stop it.

5. Gambia's ban sets a precedent and opens the door for more countries to follow suit.

Photo by Amnon Shavit/Wikimedia Commons.

Gambia follows in the footsteps of Nigeria, where outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan banned FGM back in May. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. A ban there is a clear sign to other countries that this violence against women and girls must stop.

Both African countries now join 18 others that have outlawed the practice. And Somalia — which has the highest prevalence of FGM in the world — has indicated that it hopes to end the practice too, according to The Guardian.

That's big.

FGM is so ingrained in many cultures that attitudes around it need to change before we can truly put an end to it. But banning it outright is a huge first step to making that happen.

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Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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