When I first joined Sahiyo’s team as an intern, I was told to take a look at the Voices to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) project on YouTube to get a glimpse of how Sahiyo uses storytelling in its approach to ending FGC. I was probably only expected to watch two or three videos, but I watched every single one in a single sitting. The bravery of every survivor who so beautifully shared their story was enthralling and inspiring.
Several months later, my mentor at Sahiyo suggested I join the upcoming Voices workshop. Advocates and allies were being welcomed into the program for the very first time. I was hesitant. What place did my story about misguided professors have amongst the breathtaking, moving stories of survivors? I joined the workshop regardless, and I was open with the group about the sense of imposter syndrome I had. My fellow participants, activists and survivors alike, were very encouraging and some even shared my same concern. The most important thing was that we were all united by a common goal: to raise awareness about FGC and hopefully end the practice. Through this shared desire, we built a supportive network, and I soon felt less like a participant in a workshop and more like a member of a community.
My biggest takeaway from joining this community was finding my voice in speaking out against FGC. I gained confidence in sharing my story about the issues of FGC education in college, because I was assured that it is a story worth sharing. It can be frightening to talk about an issue that is so taboo and to challenge higher authorities. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed the Voices workshop to become a better advocate for women’s rights. I’m excited to share my Voices video and continue speaking out against FGC.