When she was a girl, Kadi dreamt of having a husband and family. She never thought her journey into married life would cause her so much suffering, and certainly never imagined it would be life threatening.
Kadi lives in the rural village of Tingolé, roughly 90km east of the Malian capital, Bamako. As a young girl, she underwent the practice of excision, or female genital mutilation (FGM), and went on to suffer the consequences.
“They destroyed my body through this abominable practice, I have been through hell.”
Experiencing major problems giving birth to her children, excessive abdominal bleeding and days of paralysis, Kadi very nearly lost her life.
Simply surviving childbirth empowered Kadi. She now campaigns heavily against the practice that almost left her children motherless, and the traditions and norms that drive it.
In Tingolé roughly 98 per cent of all girls undergo genital mutilation. The after-effects reported in the village by those subjected to FGM include incontinence, scarring, and menstrual pain. Severe haemorrhaging or excessive bleeding, particularly during childbirth, can result in women and girls losing their lives.
Over the past three years, Kadi has enlisted the help of her sisters and set up five feminist associations with over 80 members, to raise awareness of the dangers of female genital mutilation. In particular, Kadi insists upon the links between FGM, gender inequality and violence against women and girls.
Working to eliminate FGM
With the support of Plan, Kadi and her colleagues have organised discussion groups, educational film screenings and counselling sessions for members of their local community. Despite the historically high rates of FGM in Tingolé, in the last two years, no girl has been subjected to FGM in the village.
However, with 76 per cent of women in Mali supporting the practice, Kadi’s efforts will not stop there. In fact, Plan is working in 160 villages across the country to help eliminate female genital mutilation.
We are raising awareness of the dangers associated with FGM amongst community members and working to ensure that the voices of campaigners like Kadi are heard by community chiefs, government leaders and other influencers and decision-makers. Plan is also providing training to children and teachers on rights and responsibilities to empower young people to protect themselves and advocate against female genital mutilation.
Find out more about Plan’s work to tackle FGM.