In her most recent offering on SBS Viceland, Gloria Steinem says "the greatest indicator of the world's stability, wealth and safety is the status of women" and then, "more than poverty, natural resources, religion, or degree of democracy, violence against females is the most reliable predictor of whether a nation will be violent within itself or will use violence against another country — and gender violence has become so great that for the first time, there are now fewer females on Earth than males." Personally, I'm not one for international borders. The estimated 2.2 million women each year who experience FGM are my sisters. Our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, daughters and nieces.
|Dr Marci Bowers and Dr Harold Henning Jr|
My friend Miranda is heading to Africa in May to assist Dr Marci Bowers and her surgical team perform up to 80 FGM repair surgeries. Miranda will join a team supported and sponsored by Clitoraid, a not for profit, supported by Dr Marci Bowers who donates her time and incredible surgical skills.
The surgery restores sexual function, corrects physical damage and appearance, restores nerve sensation, reduces pain when passing urine, menstrual flow and during sex, reduces infection and the risk of maternal and child morbidity and mortality due to obstructed labour. The surgery also reduces fistula occurrences caused by FGM complications. For me, it's about the restoration of a basic human right and dignity.
The majority of women will return to their villages while some may start a new life. Some of these women are hoped to become champions for anti-FGM missions for protecting, empowering and educating our girls and success stories on clitoral reversal surgery.
Costs for each surgery are:
- operating theatre costs $300 USD or $400 AUD (less $200 covered by various agencies for the May mission)
- FGM repair surgery - no cost
- post operative medical care - no cost
- accommodation, food and beverage costs $40 USD or $50 AUD per day
That's a shortfall of around $140 USD or $175 AUD for each sister undergoing surgery. It's a prohibitive cost for many of these women.
|Postcards from the Shot Quilt Series|
The Stitched Together Project is going to help offset those costs. In the next few days a crowd funding event through chuffed.org will launch where you can support these 80 women. The campaign will run for 28 days. In return for your donation you can opt to receive a piece of textile art. The featured piece is a postcard created from my Shot Quilt series - where the purity of white, log cabin blocks was destroyed by a shotgun blast and the injuries were sutured together with red thread. Stitched together seems an apt title for the project. There are other hand made post cards, art quilts and works available in response to your donation. You can help in many ways, including by making a donation direct to Clitoraid or participating in the Stitched Together campaign on chuffed.org. I'll be posting updates on Facebook and provide a link to the chuffed.org campaign. We can do this. It's important we do this. Thank you for being awesome in your support.