Dispelling Myths About Female Circumcision Worldwide...
The mere mention of female circumcision or FGM (as our opponents prefer) makes many educated Africans or African-Americans cringe with anger, confusion or embarrassment. At SiA Inc. we are African women collaborating with other affected women around the world who are challenging how the media represents female circumcision. We promote honest and respectful conversations within our communities about our own cultural gender norms and ideologies, as well as what these physical operations do and do not entail. We categorically dismiss the FGM meta-narrative that female circumcision represents sexual oppression or the subordination of women in our societies. Our goal is to ensure that future generations of girls and women have full and balanced knowledge and can decide for themselves whether or not to uphold this aspect of our cultural heritage.
In our second year in operation, SiA Inc. is in full swing spearheading a nascent movement among grassroots women in sub-Sahara Africa to take back ownership of our bodies and cultural traditions, especially with regard to female circumcision. For us, empowerment means more than economic independence and political participation but also encompasses our rights to equality, dignity and self-determination.
In September 2016, we began operations with $50,000 in donations to our advocacy organization, All Women are Free to Choose (AWAFC); in 2017 we managed to raise a total of $117,000 globally and in 2018 we raised $145,000 from women around the world. These generous financial contributions have enabled us to sustain locally based paid volunteers, free-lance journalists, researchers and consultants as well as legal advisers.
SiA Inc. created two local chapters of our grassroots women's empowerment movement - one in Freetown, Sierra Leone and the other in Brikama, The Gambia (Sierra Leone Women are Free to Choose and Gambian Women are Free to Choose). Also, we inaugurated the first ever Female Circumcision Awareness Week and Madam Yoko Festival at our official launch in Sierra Leone.
When we started out in 2016 and 2017, our team traveled throughout Sierra Leone and The Gambia and held meet and greet sessions with traditional female (and male) authorities. We sponsored a biannual women's leadership awards event in Freetown and Koidu City (Sierra Leone) to recognize the great contributions of women from all walks of life - including top politicians and businesswomen, market women and women farmers in rural areas as well as successful women traders and hawkers in informal urban sectors.
In September, 2018, SiA Inc. announced a new initiative called KonoCEF to promote girls enrollment and retention in secondary schools and tertiary institutions in Sierra Leone. Our pilot project is in Kono District, which has the highest rates of teen pregnancies in the country. We're confident that the success of this project would foster collaboration with other partners in education and can be scaled up to a nationwide level.
Have a look at our newsletters for highlights of the entire year.
January to April 2018
May to August 2018
September to December 2018
This year 2019, SiA Inc will continue with our 2nd Annual Female Circumcision Awareness Week and Madam Yoko Festival, this time in Bo District, Sierra Leone and the inauguration of these events in The Gambia. Keep a watch out for the launching of SiA Inc's Five Year Strategic Plan at our upcoming press conferences in Sierra Leone and The Gambia.