Lights on! for a FGM-Free Village in Iraqi Kurdistan
A village dedicated to stopping female genital mutilation received an electric generator
On this bright October day, a hope was fulfilled for the inhabitants of Gewzsa, a poor village north of Raniya, with houses clinge to the rocky, parched hillsides. A midsize truck carrying a new electric generator rolled in. The village is part of the FGM-free village programme, run by Wadi. The participating villages take part in community developement projects, while they publicly commit themselves to abandon the harmful but deeply rooted practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
The people of Gewzsa are committed to the cause. In this traditional and conservative village, a remarkable change is unfolding. In Raniya area FGM is a widespread practice. Traditionally, almost 100% of the women were mutilated. Recently, Gewzsa women participated in Wadi’s awareness programme and, having learned about the negative consequences of FGM, men and women of the village are now convinced that FGM should be abandoned. Together with a couple of other villages, they joined Wadi’s Free FGM Village programme in 2011.
People decided they would like to have permanent electricity. Until now the village has only had a few hours electricity per day delivered through the national electricity grid. With the electric generator, Gewzsa will have almost 24 hour electricity, enabling things like permanent cooling of the fridge that are taken for granted in the city, but hardly available in the remoter rural areas. Now even a deep-freezer can be installed! Fuel and wires will be provided by the Kurdish government.
Wadi staff had checked the market for quite a while, before finding a good offer in the regional capital Erbil. The generator is high quality and new, just not the latest model. The staff then organized the roughly 200 km transport with a special truck. It is a rare occasion that a cargo of the that size makes its way on the roads to the village. In Gewzsa, the steep path to the cargo’s final destination was the last challenge. The truck’s wheels spinned, creating clouds of dust, but with sticks under the wheels and after some tries the driver finally succeeded.
During the installation of the generator to its designated position, on a small plateau, everyone was eager to lend a hand. It took some time until the base construction was completed and the device could be lowered with the truck crane. Now the yellow cube can be seen from far away and even from the road which is passed by many living further north. For the villagers and neighbouring villages it is, in addition to the Stop-FGM-roadsign, another visible symbol of fruitful cooperation in the name of women’s rights. The wiring and installation will still take some time, but a strong sense of reward for succesful community work is already felt in the village.
The FGM-free village programme is supported by the U.S. Department of State. It started in 2011 as a pilot project and currently includes 7 villages all over the Kurdish Region. The programme has been very successful so far and will be extended in future. Only recently Reuters published a long article about Tutakal, one of these villages.
Wadi continues to work closely with local and international NGOs, the United Nations, and the U.S. Department of State to increase awareness of FGM in the Middle East. The organization pays special attention to stopping the practice in the KRG through its Stop FGM Kurdistan campaign and other grassroots outreach and education efforts.
For more information about the issue, visit www.stopfgmkurdistan.org or www.wadi-online.de