The Forward Trust

This charity’s vision is a world where women live in dignity, are healthy, have choices and equal opportunities. They started out fighting for FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), but they realised that in order to reach this vision, they focus on 3 things: FGM, child marriage and obstetric fistula.

Their work on these issues is informed by research carried out by women in their communities, and they act upon the community’s expressed needs. Their aim is to increase awareness to give greater information about the topics and educate people to make far more informed decisions as to the dangers of FGM.

In order to ensure FORWARD can continue with their vital research and work within communities, they rely heavily on donations from the public.

What are these three issues?

FGM - This is a procedure where female genitals are cut or changed with no medical reason for this to be done. FGM is also known as female circumcision, and is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and 15 years old. The practice is harmful for their health as well as can cause long-term problems with childbirth and mental health.

Child marriage - This is when a formal marriage or informal union entered into by individuals before reaching a certain age (as set by UNICEF - 18). In many cases, only one marriage partner is a child.

Obstetric fistula - This is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder which leaves a woman unable to control over urination or defecation. For women with obstructed labor (unattended labor), the labor can last up to a week. Soft tissues between the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvic bone produce contractions and don’t get enough blood flow. This is when holes are created between the mother’s bladder and vagina.

Impact

1985 - The BBC documentary “Forty Minutes" airs in the UK to little avail - nobody in local authority positions seemed to take it seriously. The charity worked closely with Lord Kennet to finally pass the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Bill through Parliament (originally introduced in 1982).

1994 - The World Health Organization acknowledged the serious health consequences opf FGM and most importantly recognised it as a humans rights violation, publicly stating that no medical professional should perform it.

1996 - First three-year project launched in Africa. They set up a new women’s clinic and circumcisers were taught about health consequences of FGM and were re-trained in other income-generating skills. This project saw a reduction in FGM cases from 501 (1996) to 202 (1997).

These are just a few of the major successes in the charity’s time. Take a look at their 30th Anniversary Timeline Booklet on their website.

Their work tackling FGM

Within schools - FORWARD runs a multi-award-winning Programme offering a range of services for schools. The charity ensures that all services are age-appropriate and are facilitated by experienced FORWARD staff.

  • Student Awareness Sessions include interactive and culturally sensitive sessions. Their lesson plan is flexible and can be tailored to a school’s needs.

  • Advice and guidance for schools on how to respond and engage with FGM

  • Sessions with parents to spread knowledge and research on what FGM does to their daughters’ bodies and potential dangers for later in life.

FORWARD have delivered over 2,000 FGM awareness sessions in over 800 schools and colleges in London. They’ve reached 36,000 students and over 5,000 staff members.

More ways to help

Volunteering is a great way to learn more about the charity’s work by experiencing it first-hand, and also helping the charity press on with their vital work. Savoo staff have spent a day first by understanding and educating themselves on what FGM is, surprised to hear that this happens in the UK. Adam and Flora helped create the educational packs for FORWARD staff to go into schools to educate younger generations about FGM. Read more about Savoo’s staff day with FORWARD in their office in our blog post.

Address

The Foundry, 2nd Floor, 17 Oval Way
London
SE11 5RR

Contact Number

020 3752 5560