Today, on the UN designated Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation Day (ZTD), Soroptimists proudly acknowledge the strides made in raising awareness about the practice of FGM here in Europe.  We, Soroptimists, know that FGM continues to annually harm thousands of girls and women everywhere, and we are committed to not only breaking the silence on this human rights violation, but also to ending the violence suffered by at least 200 million women and girls alive, violence that we are not tolerating in the name of tradition and culture.


We understand that the cutting of genitals without medical benefits can end when we start removing the stigma attached to addressing this topic, acknowledging that FGM is no longer isolated in far-away lands, standing with survivors and activists, and empowering our communities through programs that raise awareness about the reality of FGM amongst us here in Europe and beyond.


FGM is not isolated in far-away lands; it affects over 600’000 women and girls in Europe, with an additional 190’000 at risk.  Soroptimists have played a vital role in bridging the gap between the dramatised nature of how this harmful practice is perceived and the choices made by women and girls at risk and their families.


The twin issue of FGM and child marriage have long been addressed at the United Nations, with Soroptimist International at the forefront of advocacy efforts.  FGM, often mistakenly associated with religion, persists due to secrecy and taboo. Therefore, it is imperative for Soroptimists to speak up, declaring unequivocally that FGM hurts women and sometimes it kills them. Education is key to change and Soroptimist clubs across Europe have taken bold steps to educate and empower women by addressing FGM:


  • SI Berlin supported the ‘Desert Flower Center’ where FGM survivors received free assistance. Furthermore, in 2021, FGM was part of SI Germany President’s efforts to educate Soroptimists and find partnerships to help end the practice in Europe.


  • In 2022, four clubs of SI Denmark joined efforts to fundraise for youth-lead projects engaging in intergenerational discussions in Kenya, through their partner ‘Orchid Project.’ In addition to empowering FGM survivors and sponsoring community engagements, Danish Soroptimists learned about the complexities of FGM and how it can be stopped.


  • Starting in 2013, and most recently in 2022 and 2023, SI Romania has been educating communities and university students through presentations on FGM during ‘Orange the World’ events, thus breaking the silence on this form of violence, facilitating conversations between Soroptimists and students, community members and other civil society members.


  • SI Club Gulf-Dubai has committed funds to support SI Milimani (Kenya) FGM work. Their contribution enabled the creation of a latrine block at a new site devoted to providing a safe space for FGM survivors. They are proud to help the girls maintain their dignity with a new latrine for their basic hygiene needs.


  • SIE members in Italy expressed their interest in collaborating with anti-FGM activists to speak up against gender-based violence and empower FGM survivors.


Vacation cutting is a significant concern that Soroptimists must address to end FGM in Europe.  It refers to the ordeal girls endure when they are taken by family members to their parents’ country of origin where relatives subject them to FGM, most times without their consent.  Education and sensitizing on this topic help dispel myths associated with family honor and create a trust network for girls at risk. Collaborating with local authorities and including men in our efforts is crucial, as FGM affects not only a girl’s body, but also her mind, emotions, and the entire community.


Building partnerships with NGOs like ‘End FGM European Network’ and supporting clubs of Soroptimist International of Africa (SIAF), are vital steps forward. Investing in dynamic presentations from passionate survivors engages more Soroptimists and encourages them to be part of the global voice against FGM.


This year’s theme ‘Her voice. Her Future.’ aligns perfectly with our SIE mission. Together, let’s end FGM! Education not Mutilation!




By Dr. Nina Smart, SI Romania


By purchasing a copy of Nina Smart’s book ‘Wild Flower’, you directly contribute to supporting the construction of a school to protect girls from FGM in Sierra Leone. Read more about the organisation helping with this initiative: