#BornPerfect: International football stars speak up for women

International Football legends are for the first time ever using their platform and global fan base to raise awareness, standing united against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation [FGM]

International football legends are for the first time raising awareness against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation [FGM] – still occurring across the world.

The Global Media Campaign to End FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) believes that FGM and other forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) can be ended by 2030 with by the strongest of alliances pulling together at all levels: activists, influencers, religious leaders and journalists.

#BornPerfect is a new UN/UNFPA sponsored campaign, backed by several International football stars. At the height of the Africa Cup of Nations, before the final on February 6 in the in Cameroon, these sporting legends will come together each to share a short video with their daughters on social media, proudly and simply stating: ‘My daughter is Born Perfect – say NO to FGM’.

The Global Media Campaign to End FGM aims to maximise the power of sport as a means to mobilise, unite and communicate with people from all across the globe, and most importantly, African countries with the highest rates, such as Nigeria. Football is the world’s most popular sport, #BornPerfect is backed by Emmanuel Amunike of Barcelona and Nigeria, Nigerian goalkeeper Emmanuel Babayaro, and Efe Ambrose, ex-Celtic and now at St Johnstone, who also represents Nigeria. The aim is to spark debate around the dangerous nature of FGM and bring the suffering by girls and women to an end.

In particular, #BornPerfect seeks to cut through to younger men, instigating conversations which for too long have been avoided. It provides the perfect opportunity to kickstart a viral social media trend, resulting in millions of videos showcasing the voices of men speaking the same nine words, standing united against FGM.

UNICEF Data (2021) reports at least 200 million girls across 30 countries have undergone FGM. FGM is not just a harmless tradition amongst some Christian and Muslim communities. The practice can cause severe bleeding, problems urinating, cysts and infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risks of newborn deaths. The UN demands FGM is halted immediately as a gross violation of human rights. Support from men is essential.

Maggie O’Kane, Chief Executive of the Global Media Campaign to End FGM says: “When I first visited Nigeria I noticed that it was very difficult to grab young men’s attention about FGM. They were more interested in watching their heroes play football on TV in the bar. This #BornPerfect campaign hits the goal – where other forms of campaigning just plain miss – because we are using their Football heroes as Influencers – to help bring about a change in young men’s attitudes towards FGM.”

Efe Ambrose, of Celtic, St Johnstone and Nigeria says: “My daughters and I really appreciate this opportunity to support the movement against the FGM. We urge you to do the same”.

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