The Foundation for Women’s Health Research & Development (FORWARD) – Group Award Nominee – 2008

FORWARD is a London based NGO with an international remit focused on eliminating practices that perpetuate the oppression of girls and women from African communities, notably female genital mutilation (FGM), child and forced marriages. FORWARD was established in the early 1980s when little was known or understood about FGM in Western societies and it when it was considered absolutely taboo to discuss the issue amongst practising communities. FORWARD was the lead organisation that overcame cultural, religious and political barriers – alongside sexism and racism – to break the silence on this subject. The organisation experienced a great deal of resistance, hostility and apathy in their endeavours to eliminate this harmful practice. Although FORWARD has an international remit, its human and financial resources are minute. There is a pressing need for the highly complex and urgent work of FORWARD to be recognised – working as they do with one of the most vulnerable groups in society, the millions of girls at risk of morbidity and fatality from FGM – and for this issue to remain on the agenda.