How a group of teenage girls is stopping female genital mutilation in Ethiopia

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as cutting, is deeply rooted in many cultures around the world. This practice puts the health, well-being, and in many cases the lives, of girls in jeopardy. Unfortunately, despite being illegal in many countries, more than 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM – many of whom are now living with the trauma and consequences of it.

Female genital mutilation is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

With no health benefits, FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

SEE ALSO: Why me? The permanent scars of female genital mutilation

So, how do you stop a harmful practice that’s so profoundly entrenched in cultural norms?

For this dedicated group of teenage girls, they’re tackling the issue of FGM in Ethiopia with the most powerful tool they have at their disposal – their voice.

girls-sitting-in-circleMeet the Uncut Girls’ Club

According to UNICEF, Ethiopia is among the 29 countries where the practice of FGM is highly concentrated. Committed to protecting the rights of girls and women, Plan International is raising awareness in communities across rural Ethiopia to end child marriage, gender-based violence, and FGM.

Leading the charge to end FGM in Ethiopia are girls themselves! More than 50 girls have come together to form the Uncut Girls’ Club, where their goal is to educate their peers, encourage families to change their views on FGM, and speak up for girls’ rights within the community.

“FGM is part of our history, it was something we girls were looking forward to…In the past, my girlfriends and I used to chat about when and how our FGM would take place,” shared 16-year-old Lenteta. “When the people from Plan International explained to our class the consequences of FGM, I completely changed my mind.”

SEE ALSO: Talking about female genital mutilation

“When my friends and I decided to save ourselves from this monstrosity, we also decided we would help save other girls.”


“We want to help save other girls from FGM.” – Lenteta, 16

Challenging mindsets

The young members of the Uncut Girls’ Club are brave, dedicated and inspiring for taking a stand against a practice that many community members believe to be an important tradition.

“It is not always easy for us that everyone knows we are uncut,” shared Dorite. “Some people think that we are not clean.”

Girl sitting in a classroom.

“We are proud we have not been cut” – Dorite, 14

But through the club, girls are learning about their rights, and gaining the confidence and support from Plan, and each other, to create change!

“The club has increased the self-confidence of us,” shared 15-year-old Birtukan. “Everything connected to FGM felt intimidating, but the club has given me the courage to say no.”

“I am no longer embarrassed. I dare to speak out about the perils of FGM,” added 13-year-old Alem.

A teen girl sitting in a classroom.

“FGM used to feel intimidating, but this club has given me the courage to say no” – Birtukan, 15

Ending FGM

The Uncut Girls’ Club is playing a critical role in spreading the message to their community, and their growing membership is a positive sign that change is happening.

In Ethiopia and beyond, Plan is working to empower more girls with the knowledge, skills and opportunities to stand up for their rights, while also engaging boys, men, women, community leaders and governments to change behaviours, mindsets, and policies so that girls stay out of harm’s way.

Empowering girls to lead change

Lenteta, Dorite and the other inspiring members of the Uncut Girls’ Club are proof of the power that girls have to create lasting change! You can help empower other girls with the skills and opportunities to make a difference with our girl power Gift of Hope! Spread girls’ empowerment today!