Equality Now

Equality Now is an international human rights advocacy organization, with offices in New York, Nairobi and London, committed to ending violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world. It was among the first international organizations to develop advocacy campaigns to protect the fundamental rights of women and girls.
Mar 30, 2011

FGM Fund update March 2011

Liberia -- enactment of FGM law

In March 2011, Equality Now issued a Women's Action calling on the government to enact a law protecting women and girls from FGM in Liberia and seeking justice for Ruth Peal who was forcibly mutilated in January 2010.  Please see link below.

FGM case in Niger (AGLDF)

Equality Now is following up on the case of about eight girls, between the ages of one month to seven years, who were mutilated by a circumciser in the area of Kariel in Niger and taken to the local hospital for treatment. The police immediately arrested the circumciser and the parents. The local court has not set a date for a first hearing. Last year 42 people were convicted of subjecting their daughters to genital mutilation and sentenced to eight month suspended jail sentences and a fine of 89US$ each.


The latest issue of Equality Now's journal, which is resource to share information and provide a forum to promote a better understanding and more effective strategies for the eradication of FGM, is being printed and will soon be available on our website. Please see the link below for the last edition from 2010.

Strengthening the work of our partners:

Recently, Equality Now staff traveled to conduct monitoring and evaluation (M&E) training for two FGM Fund partners: PROFESAB in Mali and CONIPRAT in Niger. This is part of our efforts to strengthen the capacity of grassroots groups working in their communities.


Jan 4, 2011

AGLDF Update: January 2011

Equality Now
Quarterly Update: Adolescent Girls Legal Defense Fund
January 2011

A Workshop in Pakistan
On December 13 and 14, 2010, Equality Now and War Against Rape (WAR) convened a two-day workshop titled, “Sexual Violence: Obstacles to Justice and a Search for Solutions” in Lahore, Pakistan. The meeting, held at Punjab University Law College in Lahore, brought together over 40 activists, lawyers and service providers from across Pakistan, who deliberated on prevention, access to justice and service delivery for survivors of sexual violence and incest.

Discussions took place in three panel presentations on the first day and in working groups on the second day. At the end of the workshop, participants adopted a series of recommendations to enhance prevention, strengthening of laws and provision of services. Equality Now is currently preparing a final report on the workshop that we will share when it is finalized.

Zambia – Teacher Rape
On November 1 – 2, 2010, Equality Now, in collaboration with the Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), organized a lawyers’ training on national, regional and international law on sexual violence against adolescent girls. The training was undertaken within the UN Trust Fund project and involved 23 lawyers from Lusaka who were trained on application of international law in domestic courts and in the use of the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa in national and regional courts. Attendees also discussed harmful cultural practices that affect women and girls and strategized on possible law-reform initiatives and the use of public-interest litigation to challenge laws, including those enabling customary practices that are harmful to adolescent girls in Zambia. Equality Now and WLSA will follow up with the lawyers to encourage them to take up cases of adolescent girls and identify issues for legal reform.

Possible new AGLDF cases – Bangladesh
We had agreed to assist in the rape case of a girl who is a member of a religious minority in Bangladesh on the condition that the partner organization involved, Bangladesh Institute for Human Rights (BIHR), could either identify a pro bono lawyer or that Equality Now would be able to use our contacts to find someone willing to take on the case, which could potentially result in years of litigation. Barrister Sara Hossain has agreed to take on the case once she has assessed it, and we have passed on Ms. Hossain’s contact information to BIHR.

Dec 23, 2010

December 2010 FGM Update

FGM Update: December 2010

Working to End FGM in Mali 
Equality Now has been ramping up efforts to ensure passage of a strong law against FGM in Mali, in partnership with the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC). In September 2010, Equality Now staff and three parliamentarians from Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo traveled to Mali to meet with their Malian counterparts to discuss strategies that can be used towards adopting a law against FGM in Mali. While the Mali parliamentarians expressed reluctance to pass such a law, they did agree to develop a plan of action that, it is hoped, will ultimately lead to the passage of an anti-FGM law. One extremely positive outcome of the Mali meetings was a statement by the Malian Minister for Gender indicating support for any anti-FGM actions or strategies adopted by parliament.  

FGM in the United States: An Update
While FGM is illegal in the U.S., thousands of girls living in the country are at risk of being subjected to FGM, either in the U.S. or when transported to their families’ home countries, often during their school holidays. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated in 1997 that over 168,000 girls and women living in the U.S. have either been subjected to FGM or are in danger of being so. 

During the legislative session that will end January 3, 2011, U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA)  introduced “The Girls Protection Act (H.R. 5137),” bipartisan legislation that would address this gaping hole in protections for girls and women. While the 111th Congress did not vote on the bill during its session, Equality Now will continue to rally support for passage in the next legislative session.

Africa Rising: Building Awareness of the Atrocities of FGM
Africa Rising, spearheaded by Equality Now and directed by Emmy award-winning director Paula Heredia, is an insightful look at the frontlines of a quiet revolution taking Africa by storm, as grassroots efforts to end FGM slowly but steadily gain traction. The film was screened twice in September 2010 at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. (See the attached program for the festival and the description of Africa Rising on page 23.)

Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda: Urgent Alerts
After having received reports of mass mutilation of girls in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, Equality Now released urgent alerts and wrote letters to the President of Uganda, the Inspector General of Police in Uganda and the Police Commissioner in Kenya. The letters are summarized below:

Tanzania – Urgent Alert calling on the government of Tanzania to rescue girls at risk of undergoing FGM and prosecute perpetrators:
Following reports indicating that as many as 5,000 girls are at risk of undergoing FGM in Tarime region in Tanzania during the holiday season (from November to January),  Equality Now issued an urgent alert calling on the government of Tanzania to take action and prevent FGM from taking place. The alert highlighted the need for the government to put in place a preventative mechanism to save girls who have not undergone the practice and arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators.

Uganda – Letters to the President and Inspector General of Police:
Following reports of planned mutilation in the Sabiny region in Uganda, Equality Now wrote a letter urging the President of Uganda, His Excellence Yoweri Museveni, to take action in enforcing the new anti FGM law to ensure that all women and girls at risk are protected from undergoing FGM. In the letter, Equality Now highlighted his role in adopting the law against FGM in Uganda and the ratification to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Kenya – Letter to the Police Commissioner:
Following press reports of planned FGM activities in different parts of the country, Equality Now wrote a letter to the Police Commissioner asking him to act urgently to investigate and to prevent girls from undergoing FGM in Kuria, Marakwet and other parts of the country. In the letter, we called on the Commissioner to enforce the Children’s Act and arrest those planning to conduct the mutilation.

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