Khadija Gbla Executive Director
Khadija one of the few survivors of FGM is willing to speak out about the dangers facing girls in Australia today. She has spoken about her own experience of FGM all around Australia- in Tasmania, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Sydney, and the Sunshine Coast. She regularly shares the most intimate and deeply personal aspects of her life in order to educate the world about the harms of FGM and encourage people to act to make a difference.
Her voice is a crucial voice as many Australians are unaware that female genital mutilation happens here, and yet we have the evidence from current prosecutions, as well as from surveys of workers in FGM programs around the country who report that they know of girls being taken overseas for the practice.
Her TEDx talk
has had over 3, 000,000 views and inspires people every day to act to protect girls from female genital mutilation, especially in Australia.
Khadija has been recognized through numerous awards for her vision and leadership, including 2011 Young South Australian of the Year, 2014 The Advertiser South Australia’s 50 most Influential Women, and 2013 Madison Magazine Australia’s Top 100 inspiring Women.
Khadija is based in Adelaide
Paula Ferrari Managing Director
Paula is a health professional, educator and independent scholar. She first became aware of FGM after reading Alice Walker’s book “Possessing the Secret of Joy” . She became an activist after she had two daughters of her own. She became outraged following the discovery that Australian girls, little girls like her own daughters, were being subjected to FGM, and yet there was a huge silence around this within schools, hospitals, universities where she had taught or practised as a teacher and health professional at grassroots and academic levels. As FGM is a primarily a form of violence against children, therefore a child protection issue, she would like to see all frontline professionals trained in how to identify girls in danger of FGM, and for FGM to be included in all mandatory reporting and university training. There are key indicators to identify who is in danger of FGM and this includes the daughters of women who have had FGM. As such it is vital that there is increased data collection of who is at risk.
She believes that all girls should be safe from abuse regardless of their colour or background.
Paula is based in Melbourne.
Sybil Williams Director
Sybil Williams was born in Barbados. Her father worked for UNICEF, so she then lived in Nigeria, Burma, Nepal, Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain and Wales before arriving in Australia in 1988, aged fifteen. She is a communications specialist and founder of marketing consultancy, Atomic Tangerine.
Sybil first learnt about FGM from her father, who told her this story.Whilst working for UNICEF (when she was in her early teens) he took a three month consultancy back in the Sudan. After finishing a day’s workshop with a governmental body, one of the participants approached him:
“Do you remember me, Doctor Williams?” the man asked.
Dad replied – “Of course. You were sitting at the back of the room…”
“Ah! You don’t remember me…” he said, as Dad began frantically trying to work out how he could have forgotten this man.
“You, Doctor Williams” continued the man, “have been the greatest source of trouble in my marriage.
“You gave a session on human reproduction to my class. And during that class you banged your fist on the table and said You are not a man if you allow your daughters to be cut! You are not a man!
“And, Doctor Williams, my wife, my sister, my mother, my mother-in-law, my aunties and all my female relatives have not stopped giving me hell for it. But I wanted to tell you, my daughters are not cut, and neither are the daughters of anyone else in that room.”
That story made a huge impression on her and always gives her goose-bumps. That’s how she learnt about female genital mutilation, and now why she continues to fight the practice here in Australia.
Sybil is based in Sydney.