Sierra Leone Women are Free to Choose (SLWAFC) , a community based organization in Freetown and The National Sowie Council will host Sierra Leone’s first Female Circumcision Awareness Week, starting on February 5.
The week-long activities and public discussion will include a press-conference, film-screening and seminars contesting the concept of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The event is the first in history to bring together the masses of affected women who will speak boldly about WHO FGM/C categorizations, exaggerated claims of harm as well as one-sided media representations of FGM in Sierra Leone and globally.
Female Circumcision Awareness Week is an opportunity for open, public dialogue about an area of women’s private lives that has received its share of unwanted global media attention. The event will start off with a press conference on February 5, which will effectively launch the Female Circumcision Awareness Week.
On February 6 there will be a seminar under the working title “Language Matters: Why We Reject the term Female Genital Mutilation”, while a Peaceful Rally of Sowies is also scheduled to take place that day.
International guests are invited to take the Visitors Tour of Sierra Leone on February 7 and February 8. Friday, February 9, is reserved for a film-screening and a panel discussion. The last day of the Awareness Week will include the Bondo Women’s Convention and the Madam Yoko Festival.
The Bondo Women’s Convention will mark Sierra Leone’s grassroots women’s struggle against FGM campaigns, by celebrating the unique matriarchal societies, called Bondo or Sande, and the power of womanhood that these symbolize.
The inaugural Madam Yoko Festival is first and foremost a celebration of Sowies, or women leaders of Bondo and Sande, who are the custodians of the rich, cultural and religious heritage that is symbolized by both female and male circumcision. Far from the notion of FGM, the theme Mami Na Pawa is a call to all Sierra Leonean women, especially members of Bondo, to recognize the sacred “radical female ideology” that has been handed down to them by their mothers and grandmothers, as they boldly step forward to claim their places in the 21st Century world.