Face of Guardian-backed drive to raise awareness of female genital mutilation named as winner of Good Housekeeping prize
Bristol schoolgirl Fahma Mohamed, the face of a Guardian-backed campaign to raise awareness of female genital mutilation in schools, has been awarded Good Housekeeping’s outstanding young campaigner of the year award.
The award recognises “an extraordinary young woman’s determination and campaigning spirit, in her commitment to preventing the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and warnings to protect girls across the UK”, said the organisers, who presented the 17-year-old with the award at an event in London on Monday.
Mohamed was the face of the EndFGM Guardian campaign that launched in February and called on the then education secretary, Michael Gove, to write to all teachers in England and Wales, warning them of the dangers of FGM.
Within three weeks, her petition on Change.org had attracted more than 230,000 signatures and garnered the public support of Pakistani girls’ education campaigner Malala Yousafzai and the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who said he had been inspired after meeting Mohamed.
After sustained pressure Gove agreed to meet Mohamed and fellow campaigners from the charity Integrate Bristol, and finally agreed to write to all teachers about the practice.
Speaking at the awards, which were introduced by the actor Lindsay Lohan and attended by more than 450 women, Mohamed said: “There are so many women in the UK campaigning for what they believe in and it still hasn’t sunk in that the judges chose to give me this award. I’m excited to be named as one of the women of the year and to meet other campaigners at the lunch. This award is for all the young people of Integrate Bristol who have worked so hard over the past five years – I feel it’s acknowledging the importance of eradicating FGM and protecting the rights of girls all over the world.”
Lindsay Nicholson, editorial director of Good Housekeeping, who presented Mohamed with the award, said she was living proof that youth was no barrier to effective campaigning.
“We are delighted to honour Fahma Mohamed, who proves that you don’t need access, influence or a large staff to effect real change – just passion, drive and overwhelming determination,” she said.
Mohamed started volunteering with Integrate Bristol, a youth-led charity that campaigns against FGM, inequality and gender-based violence, when she was 14. She took one of the main roles in the play My Normal Life in June 2013, and became one of three young trustees of the charity at the age of 16.
Mohamed won one of six awards, which also went to campaigner, cook and Guardian contributor Jack Monroe, Irish children’s rights campaigner Christina Noble, Zimbabwean lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa and Joanne Thompson.
The award for woman of the year was won by women’s rights campaigner Diana Nammi, director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation