Her Voice, Her Future: WSLHD’s commitment to ending female genital mutilation/cutting

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In a powerful gathering marked by determination and solidarity, Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) has recently facilitated the Health Forum 2024 to acknowledge the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).

Held at the Auburn Centre for Community, the event focused on this year’s theme, “Her Voice. Her Future. Investing in Survivor-Led Movements to end FGM/C,” and echoed the urgent need for collective action and support for survivors.

The event provided a platform for insightful discussions, inspiring speeches, and meaningful reflections.

Among the distinguished speakers were Jasmin Ellis, General Manager of Integrated & Community Health at WSLHD, and Ibu Fanny Buana, the wife of the Indonesian Consul General, both of whom delivered stirring addresses that emphasised the critical importance of ending FGM/C through collaborative efforts.

Ibu highlighted the necessity of a united front involving governments, NGOs, communities, and individuals worldwide.

“Ending Female Genital Mutilation requires a collaborative approach,” she said.

“Through education, legislation, and community empowerment, we can eradicate FGM/C and pave the way for the protection of women’s and girls’ rights, health, and well-being.”

Jasmin echoed these sentiments, emphasising the need to empower women and girls for social and economic equality.

“An equitable world begins with ensuring that every woman and girl has the opportunity to lead, to thrive, and to influence the future,” Jasmin said.

Jasmin also drew attention to the staggering statistic that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM/C, underscoring the urgency of the issue.

“Girls and women, survivors from our communities across NSW, are key to changing social norms.

These brave women, leading the charge, remind us of the resilience and strength inherent in every survivor.

The event was also attended by Alison Derrett, WSLHD’s Executive Director Operations, whose participation underscored the significance of the forum within the broader health landscape.

Throughout the program, various speakers and participants shed light on different aspects of the FGM/C issue, addressing its physical, psychological, and socio-cultural dimensions.

From survivor-led movements to clinical support for affected individuals, the discussions were comprehensive and enlightening.

Dr. Ahlam Ibrahim, a general practitioner, delved into the role of healthcare providers in empowering and supporting FGM/C survivors to thrive.

Similarly, Associate Professor Nesrin VAROL explored the psychosexual and physical health challenges faced by survivors and their families, emphasising the need for holistic care and support.

The event also showcased the NSW Education Program on FGM/C, which has been instrumental in working alongside affected communities for over 25 years.

Multicultural Health Services’ Dipti Zachariah emphasised the value in investing in women.

“When we invest in women, we catalyse a ripple effect that benefits families, communities, and nations,” she said.

The event served as a reminder of the importance of unity, advocacy, and action in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation.

By amplifying the voices of survivors, empowering communities and fostering collaboration, we take significant strides towards a future where every woman and girl is free from the threat of FGM/C, and where their rights and dignity are upheld without compromise.

Women need to be part of the solution and need to be heard and valued. This afternoon collectively we have created a space where women’s voices are heard and valued.

Jasmin Ellis, General Manager of Integrated & Community Health WSLHD

Dipti and colleague Ngatho Mugo recently sat down to discuss FGM/C and its implications on society. You can listen to their discussion below.