Edna in Washington

Edna was invited to Capitol Hill to participate in the 4th Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast, sponsored by Women Thrive Worldwide, on March 1. Edna spoke about the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Following some members of Congress, and others, Edna’s presentation about FGM begins soon past the 38-minute mark.

See below for a complete video of this event.

“When it comes to female genital mutilation, I am not going to put every mother and every grandmother in jail, because FGM is done out of a sense of duty. They think they’re doing the right thing! We were trying to convince illiterate women, mothers and grandmothers, about FGM which is contrary to the teaching of Islam, but they thought it was a religious obligation, so you need to inform them about this. They thought they were doing the right thing, that it’s hygienic, which it is not; that it would improve their marriageability, which it does not because it interferes with their potential to reproduce and have children.

“And when we went back to the drawing board, we found that we had overlooked the major role that men should and must play in this because this little girl, who is being cut up, is the daughter of a father. And parents, both mothers and fathers, must join hands. And it cannot remain a feminist issue. It’s a human issue. It’s a family issue. So we began to incorporate men into this. And how I would go about it is, “You are the father. It is your daughter who is being subjected to this. And as the leader of this family, you must have a say in this family. And you must put your foot down and say, ‘My daughter will not go through this!’ Show your strength. Show your heroism. Show me how brave you are. It shouldn’t be left to – I often use this – to little old women like me. It should be the responsibility of wise men with big turbans and big beards, wise and knowledgeable men should be telling me to do something about it.

“This is how we about it. And it works better. It’s not something that we campaign against because of the particular damage that it does to the female reproduction. But it damages the human value of this girl. She must have a say and be consulted in this.”

Edna then goes on to congratulate the USA for posting a public notice on the topic of FGM at the US Consulate in Djibouti, where she had recently gone to renew her visa. People traveling from countries where FGM are endemic are now being warned that if they do this to girls while in the USA then it will be treated as a violent crime.

A little past the 57-minute mark, Edna speaks passionately about her goal to train 1000 midwives and dispatch them to isolated areas to help reduce the extremely high rate of maternal and infant mortality. “It costs us less than a cup of coffee a day to train a midwife. We train them for two years. These women go back to their communities competent, vocal and help us to fight many of the problems of women…. They can influence many of the social problems that women have. They become competent.”

Women Thrive Worldwide works to create a world in which women and men work together as equals so that they, their families and their communities can thrive.

Women Thrive Worldwide advocates for change at the U.S. and global levels so that women and men can share equally in the enjoyment of opportunities, economic prosperity, voice, and freedom from fear and violence.

We ground our work in the realities of women living in poverty, partner with locally based organizations, and create powerful coalitions to advance the interests of the women and girls we serve.

Here is the follow-up letter from Women Thrive Worldwide:

Women Thrive Worldwide Letter

Video streaming by Ustream


  1. Thanks for coming, Edna. You’re an inspiration!

  2. Anu Palan

    Thanks for joining us Edna! It was wonderful to have you here with us. Look forward to working with you more, and hope you enjoy your hospital’s tenth anniversary celebration!

  3. Mei Powers

    Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. You’ve inspired so many more people!

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