Founder of FORWARD: Efua Dorkenoo

By Wendy |

From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011

Entrant: Tobe Levin

Nominee: Efua Dorkenoo, Founder of FORWARD (UK), Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.)

From Ghana but now a resident in London, Efua Dorkenoo is a pioneering activist against female genital mutilation(FGM) who began going public against this horror in the early 1980s. She founded The Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development (FORWARD) and headed the organization until tapped to run the World Health Organization’s newly launched global campaign against FGM.

She is the author of Cutting the Rose: Female Genital Mutilation, the Practice and its Prevention (1994), on the list of 100 best African books of the 20th century. Efua advised Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar in making the documentary Warrior Marks (1993); Efua appears in the video explaining her work with Somali women who wrote a play against FGM but decided not to put it on, for, they insisted, women fighting the practice can be killed.

Knowing that African women activists against female genital mutilation do indeed risk their lives, I think it would be wonderful to reward them for their courage.

Bibliography of publications by Efua Dorkenoo:

Cutting The Rose: Female Genital Mutilation the Practice and its Prevention (1994)

Report of the First Study Conference of Genital Mutilation of Girls in Europe/ Western World (1993)

Child Protection and Female Genital Mutilation: Advice for Health, Education, and Social Work Profession (1992)

Female Genital Mutilation: Proposals for Change (co-authored) (1992)

Tradition! Tradition: A symbolic story on female genital mutilation (1992)