Fatou Baldeh

Fatou Baldeh

“Courage to me means standing against harmful practices and injustice that society has normalized, regardless of where they may stem from.”

As Gambian parliamentarians currently debate repealing the 2015 ban on female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C), Fatou Baldeh, a survivor of FGM/C, waded into this highly contentious and polarizing issue as an unwavering advocate, defending critical protections that can mean life or death for women and girls. Ms. Baldeh documented women’s experiences during the Jammeh dictatorship, including murder, rape, forced labor, and witch hunts, where victims were tortured into giving false confessions. Her findings were essential to The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission’s (TRRC) final report. Through her organization, Women in Liberation and Leadership (WILL), Ms. Baldeh tirelessly educates the public and private sectors about human rights and the dangers of FGM/C in a country where 75% of women have endured some form of it, despite the existing ban. She says her proudest achievement, though humble, is profoundly impactful: saving her 11-year-old niece from FGM/C and breaking the cycle in her own family.

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