Sahiyo is an organization with the mission to empower Asian communities to end female genital cutting through community collaboration, and this work could not be done without dedicated volunteers supporting us. To show our appreciation, we would like to spotlight those volunteers who have made invaluable contributions to this organisation.
Chandni Shiyal, a Ph.D. scholar in Mumbai, has been involved with Sahiyo almost from its inception, as a committed field worker reaching out to Bohra women at the grassroots level. Read about her Sahiyo experience below, in her own words:
1) When did you first get involved with Sahiyo?
I first got involved with the organisation when Sahiyo was established. My involvement began when I came in contact with one of Sahiyo’s co-founders Aarefa Johari after I started pursuing my Ph.D. research focusing exclusively on FGC in India and Africa.
2) What opportunities have you been involved with at Sahiyo?
I have written a blog and also helped handle logistics during the first media workshop organised by Sahiyo. I have also been interviewing many Bohra friends and Bohra women regarding Khatna or FGC. By interviewing them I had the opportunity to have deliberate discussions with them and learn more about their perception and views on Khatna. I shared with them my own findings about the social, physical and psychological impact of this practice. A few of my interviewees reacted positively towards opposing FGC and said they would make sure that their daughters did not undergo Khatna though they themselves were subjected to this practice.
3) How has your involvement impacted your life?
I have been concerned about women’s issues and have always wanted to work and contribute to women’s causes. I was very impressed by the efforts of seventeen courageous women who openly signed a petition against Khatna, a sensitive issue that was never discussed on a larger scale in India and kept secret within the community itself. Being part of group discussions with co-founders of Sahiyo and volunteers across the world has built more confidence in me to stand up for women’s rights.
4) What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting Sahiyo?
To achieve women’s equality is not just the responsibility of women but the responsibility of the entire community itself. There are various forms of violence like FGM, domestic violence, rape, etc. faced by millions of women each day across the world. Everyone should not remain silent but come forward to build a discrimination-free world, where every woman is respected and they have the right to live life according to their choice and decisions.
Chandni Shiyal has completed her M.Phil. on the subject of Female Circumcision/Female Genital Mutilation in Africa: A Case Study of Ethiopia from the Centre for African Studies, University of Mumbai. She recently published a book titled Female Circumcision/ Female Genital Mutilation: A Human Rights Violation A Case Study of Ethiopia. Ms. Shiyal is currently a Ph.D. student researching on Gender Inequality and Women’s Health: A Comparative Study of Ethiopia and India.