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Dear journalists, broadcasters, editors, influencers, educators, your words matter.

A woman speaks in front of a cameraperson

The words you write have the power to change the hearts and minds of millions. It’s a serious responsibility, especially when it comes to serious issues such as female genital mutilation.

In the decade since FGM was made illegal in Kenya, much progress has been made to eradicate the practice. But this human rights abuse remains a real threat to the health, education, and potential of women and girls, as affected communities continue to cut their daughters, still believing it is justifiable. As COVID takes its toll, incidents of FGM are rising. The incredible efforts of anti FGM activists who have long advocated for cooperation from law enforcement were interrupted, with efforts diverted to enforce lockdown measures. Even reporting incidents has become a challenge.

You have the power to protect women and girls rights and help educate those who still believe it’s a rite of passage for a girl, hygienic, or a prerequisite to marriage. You have the power to stop the perpetuation of untruths. You have the power to remind your audience that it is a woman’s or girl’s right not to be cut. That it is illegal. That it is human rights abuse.

Thank you to all of those who have accurately written, reported, tweeted, blogged, and even TikToked about FGM. It all matters.

FGM is a complex subject and it can be challenging to write about. Many shy away from it. Many misreport on it. Many advocate for it. Many just don’t understand it. Sometimes the coverage retraumatizes the women and girls it should be protecting. Inaccurate and unethical reporting can perpetuate the human rights violation that we are all committed to ending. It’s time to do better.

If you are already covering FGM, or if you want to write about it, but not confident in the subject then please download our new toolkit for reporters and editors, Reporting on Female Genital Mutilation. Written by leading FGM experts, with contributions from some of the best journalists and broadcasters in the business, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate and learn how to report on FGM with accuracy, sensitivity and authority.

We hope the toolkit will be adopted and shared by a wide range of editors, media houses, influencers, civil society organizations and journalists, becoming a standardized benchmark for informed and conscientious reporting on FGM.

Female genital mutilation is a human rights violation. Together we will end it. Are you in?

This toolkit was developed by international women’s rights organization Equality Now in collaboration with the Anti-FGM Board, Kenya, and the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), to support media professionals in their efforts to report on FGM. Please feel free to share, reference, and reproduce the content.