Sahiyo staff spotlight: Editorial coordinator Rachel Wine

Rachel is a graduate student at Georgetown University, working towards her Master’s of Science in Global Health with a focus on health equity. In 2020, she earned her BSPH at Tulane University, where she double-majored in public health and anthropology with a minor in international development. Her passion lies at the intersection of activism and storytelling, and she loves supporting Sahiyo’s work of elevating survivors’ voices for the empowerment of women everywhere.

When and how did you first get involved with Sahiyo?

I first started working with Sahiyo in September of 2021. I had learned about the incredible work Sahiyo was doing from another graduate of my Master’s program, who had also worked with Sahiyo, and found myself extremely drawn to Sahiyo’s work and mission.

What does your work with Sahiyo involve?

As editorial coordinator, a big part of my work is supporting survivors and allies in developing their stories into blog posts. I love being a part of a process that amplifies these voices, and watching the exploration of their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on their experience. I also work to create the monthly newsletter, which updates our many subscribers on Sahiyo’s activities over the past month!

How has your involvement with Sahiyo impacted your life?

Coming from a public health background, I saw FGC handled as a “cultural practice” that Westerners didn’t have the lens to understand. In fact, during one of my maternal and child health classes, a professor told us that we couldn’t judge the practice bComing from a public health background, I saw FGC handled as a “cultural practice” that Westerners didn’t have the lens to understand. In fact, during one of my maternal and child health classes, a professor told us that we couldn’t judge the practice because it was based on cultural norms and values different from ours. I didn’t really question this, until I interviewed at Sahiyo. Since beginning my work here, exposure to survivors’ stories and the expertise of Sahiyo’s co-founders has helped me realize that, although FGC may be based in cultural or religious norms, this doesn’t erase its undeniable roots in gender violence. And while FGC is also a pervasive issue in the West, there are many cultural norms that originate in Western societies, like the over-sexualization of the female body in the media, that are harmful to young women and girls; however, I don’t think anyone would negate the harm caused by this just because it’s tied to “cultural norms.” This realization really forced me to take a step back and re-examine the way I view the world in many ways.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with others who may be interested in supporting Sahiyo and the movement against FGC?

Every act of violence against women is interconnected. Though I come from a community that does not practice FGC, it is still my job to call out this form of gender violence that affects women around the world; ending violence that is ingrained in cultural or religious norms, especially in cultures and religions that are not mine, is my fight. Intersectional feminism is the only way to achieve liberation of all women.

Sahiyo staff spotlight: Development coordinator Shelby Smith

Shelby joined Sahiyo US as an intern with the Development Team in June 2021, and transitioned into the role of Development Coordinator in September 2021. She is currently a graduate student at Cleveland State University studying Applied Social Research. Shelby is passionate about female-founded organizations and is excited for the opportunity to contribute to Sahiyo’s mission.

1) When and how did you first get involved with Sahiyo?

I started with Sahiyo US in June 2021 as a development intern. In September 2021, I transitioned to the role of Development Coordinator. I’m thrilled to be working with the Sahiyo team! 

2) What does your work with Sahiyo involve?

 As the development coordinator, I research grants and funding opportunities to support our programs, activist retreats, and general operating expenses. I help with the writing process when submitting grant proposals and create monthly campaign emails to help ensure that Sahiyo has the monetary resources to carry out their mission.  

3) How has your involvement with Sahiyo impacted your life? 

Before working with Sahiyo, I was unaware of FGC and the impact on women and girls around the world. I have been involved with previous support groups for survivors of sexual violence on college campuses, and I have enjoyed working for an organization like Sahiyo that speaks out against violence. I love working with a team that has a passionate spirit and uplifts the voices of other women. Sahiyo has such a loving and supportive community that I feel truly honored to be a part of.  

4) What words of wisdom would you like to share with others who may be interested in supporting Sahiyo and the movement against FGC? 

The Sahiyo staff and volunteers are constantly challenging social norms, speaking out against FGC, and continuously proving themselves to be an organization that fulfills their goals. Sahiyo reminds me that there are people out there who care about ending violence against women (FGC specifically) and execute their goals in such a creative and powerful way. 

Sahiyo Staff Spotlight: Lara Kingstone

Lara Kingstone started her career in community organizing in a UK-based program designed to integrate London communities and empower youth to become active and engaged citizens. Lara earned a BA in Political Communications at IDC Herzliya, an Israeli University, while working as a journalist at The Culture Trip and producing and hosting a human rights radio program. She then worked at an educational center which aimed to help Palestinian and Israeli young people learn English together, and get to know each other as peers and partners in peace. After graduating, she moved to the Thai-Lao border where she volunteered at Child Rights and Protection Center, a small non-profit which aims to prevent human trafficking and gender-based violence, while providing a safe and confidence-building living environment for at-risk young women. Lara then moved to Boston, and interned with Big Sister before starting her part-time role at Silver Lining Mentoring as an Outreach Coordinator, where she aims to find volunteers to become long-term mentors for youth in foster care.

She joined Sahiyo in August 2018.

When and how did you first get involved with Sahiyo?

In August 2018, I applied for the role of Communications Assistant, thrilled to see that an organization that so closely aligned with my interests was hiring. I have a background in non-profit work, and working to ensure dignity and human rights for women globally. I’d been interested in Female Genital Cutting, and the work to end the practice for years, doing a thesis paper on it in college, and had actually heard of Sahiyo a few years prior, whilst learning about global efforts to end FGC.

What is the nature of your work at Sahiyo?


I’m now the Communications Coordinator. The work is constantly different, which I enjoy. It varies from working on grant applications and event reports, to supervising our lovely social media interns, to providing administrative assistance to the team. And anything else that pops up!

How has your involvement in this work impacted your life?

Joining Sahiyo has been incredible. I’ve been hit with a rush of motivation and energy, because I feel intensely passionate about the work and organization. I find myself truly inspired by our global team, and all the partners we connect with. I’m confident in the leadership as they have experience and knowledge of the community and practice we’re focusing on. I trust this team of brave, resilient and hard-working women, and I’m so honored to be able to support the work in any way I can. From day one it’s been intense and challenging, and I find myself constantly learning and growing with it. It’s very exciting being with such a fast-growing organization like Sahiyo, and getting to see the rapid changes and progress the team makes. I’m a big fan, and hope to be onboard for a long time.

Is there any advice you would like to share with others interested in joining or supporting Sahiyo’s work?

Do it! Sahiyo has so many different opportunities for being involved, even offering anonymous ‘Private Activism’ for those who are more comfortable in that capacity. If you have skills to bring to the table and feel passionately about Sahiyo’s goal, joining is definitely a worthwhile move, that will leave you feeling connected, empowered and proud to be part of this whirlwind movement.