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Mariya Taher  pursued a study titled, “Understanding Female Genital Cutting in the United States“, in graduate school for her Master of Social Work from San Francisco State University. Since then, she has worked in the field of gender violence for over a decade, working on issues of domestic violence at W.O.M.A.N., Inc.; Asian Women’s Shelter; and Saheli, Support and Friendship for South Asian Women and Families. She was a 2014 Women’s Policy Institute for The Women’s Foundation of California and her team successfully passed legislation to provide low-income survivors of domestic violence with basic needs grants. Since 2015, she has collaborated with the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association to pass legislation to protect girls from FGC. After starting a petition and gathering over 400,000 signatures, Massachusetts became the 39th state in the U.S. to do so. She also sits on the steering committee for the US Network to End FGM/C. The Manhattan Young Democrats named her a 2017 Engendering Progress honoree and she was named 1 of the 6 FGC experts to watch by In 2018, Mariya received the Human Rights Storytellers Award from the Muslim American Leadership Alliance. In 2020, she was recognized as one of the six inaugural grant recipients for the Crave Foundation for Women. Learn more about her by listening to Mariya’s Interview with ABC News. To contact Mariya, email her at

Aarefa picAarefa Johari is a journalist based in Mumbai, India. She has four years of experience as a reporter and feature writer with Hindustan Times, a national daily, and currently works with, an online publication. She reports on communities, gender, human rights, urban development and culture. She is an alumnus of the 2013 batch of the International Visitor Leadership Programme, conducted by the United States Department of State. To contact Aarefa, email her at


Priya Goswami (b.1988, India) is a national award-winning documentary filmmaker, co-creator, creative head and CEO of an AI-driven app startup, ‘Mumkin’, available on Google Play Store. In 2015, she co-founded Sahiyo, an international non-profit, with four other women. She is the recipient of the German Chancellor Fellowship for young leaders by Alexander Von Humboldt Stiftung (Berlin, 2018-19), a time she spent making video installations, learning German, and creating pro-choice advocacy with activists from Germany, Ireland and Malta. Priya’s documentary ‘A Pinch of Skin’ (’13) won the 60th National Film Award of India and has screened worldwide. Following her documentary, she received the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) grant for a four-country feature film collaboration called ‘Reflecting Her’. In 2019, she began to co-create an Artificial Intelligence-driven app, Mumkin. She has also been working on her first feature documentary, ‘Baadi’ since 2017. ‘Baadi’ is one of the four non-European projects selected at the European Social Documentary workshop (2017). She believes in the power of storytelling to create conversations and loves to explore different forms and mediums through her work as a visual storyteller.


IMG_1949Insia Dariwala is an Advertising & Mass Communications graduate from F.I.T, New York, and an award-winning, international filmmaker, currently based in Mumbai. Fiercely passionate about protecting the rights of children, Insia has effectively used her 14 years of experience in advertising & films, to highlight these issues. ‘The Candy Man’ her hard hitting debut film on child abuse won her two ‘Best Director’ awards in India, and was also nominated internationally. However, ‘Cock-Tale’, her second award winning film on rape, was what gave birth to her organisation, ‘The Hands of Hope Foundation’, which is actively involved in working against sexual abuse on children, using visual art and education, to create awareness in schools, communities & slums. Insia strongly believes that FGC is also another form of violence on children, which needs to be eliminated, and has today, successfully fused both her passions to address children’s issues. See Insia speak to IBN CNN by clicking here. Learn more about a short film on FGC written and directed by Insia by clicking here. To contact Insia, email her at

Shaheeda Tavawalla-Kirtane is a Canadian researcher and policy analyst from shaheeda-pic.pngToronto, Ontario. She graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a Bachelors of Science (Hons) degree in Pharmacology & Toxicology. She recently moved to Mumbai, India, and works for a non-partisan think tank called the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Mumbai.  Her areas of work in public health and policy are diabetes, newborn hearing screening, low-cost and high-impact health innovation, mental health and creation and promotion of health literacy programs in schools in Maharashtra, India. Shaheeda was educated at a very early age about the harmful practice of khatna by her mother, Dilshad Tavawalla, who stood her ground and protected her daughter from being subjected to it (read Ms. Tavawalla’s thoughts on khatna here). Shaheeda is keen to study female genital cutting from a research perspective and this goes back to her days as an undergraduate student studying Life Sciences.