The issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) requires urgent action: more than 125 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM - the equivalent of Kenya's entire population almost three times over. In the 29 countries in African and the Middle East where FGM is most concentrated, another 30 million girls are at risk of being cut in the next decade. There is growing commitment to ending FGM across the African continent, with African leaders playing a crucial role in achieving the United Nations global ban on FGM in 2012.
Almost ten months ago, our small team - spread between Nairobi and London, and with funding from the UK's Department for International Development - started work to develop a name and logo, with the aim of producing an umbrella identity that could help to rally and unite the growing Africa-led movement to end FGM.
Although the movement has been building for decades, it has never had a shared identity. Other human rights and public health campaigns of the last century have made huge progress by rallying around a common identity: we all know what the red ribbon stands for. A highly visible, shared identity can help bring activists from different backgrounds together, with a common sense of purpose, and push for change more effectively - from the global stage, to within their own communities and families.
I am sometimes called 'the mother of the campaign' and I have worked in the field of ending FGM for thirty years. However, the process of developing the creative foundation for this global movement has been a real eye-opener for me. Supported by the team's communications advisors and our colleagues at Ogilvy & Mather Africa and Advocacy International, we've experimented with numerous different names, shapes and colours over the last few months.
We have shared ideas and sought feedback from many people - particularly those on the ground in countries most affected by FGM. It has been a surprisingly long and complicated journey. To agree on an identity which satisfies numerous partners across the globe, and which embodies the vision of the global movement, has taken a lot of time, discussion, and creative energy.
But finally, The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM is here, and I hope you like it. I want to tell the story of how and why we arrived here.
We started out by bringing together a small group of 'thought leaders' from across the African continent who have first-hand experience and insights into working to end FGM. After all, this communications programme exists to support the work of such tireless campaigners - to amplify their work, tell their stories, and attract additional resources so that work to end FGM can be scaled up. We felt strongly that their perspectives had to form the heart of the movement.
Together, they reached consensus about the core values that the movement's identity should embody: positive change and trust, respect, knowledge, pride, courage, hope, joy, responsibility, and empowerment.
The name and design had to be simple, and easy to copy and reproduce. It had to invoke warm, positive feeling, and be adaptable to different national and local contexts. It also had to work in a variety of settings, languages, cultures and contexts. A tall order, indeed.
So why did the creative team finally come up with The Girl Generation? Firstly, it encompasses the overall aim - to end FGM in a Generation. It also puts the focus clearly on the 'girl', as in the majority of cases, it is the girl that needs to be protected against FGM - even though women can suffer from its effects in the long term. The tagline - Together to End FGM - reflects the vision of helping to galvanise an Africa-led global movement, working together for a common purpose.
Finally, why the triangle? It is a powerful, simple and replicable shape which appears in the art of all cultures. Triangles commonly appear on prints, patterns and textiles across the African continent. The Girl Generation triangle is soft and childlike in its rendering, reinforcing the name's reference to girl/childhood. The colour is fresh and youthful, and doesn't have the harsh or controlling overtones of stronger primary colours.
The name and logo are just the beginning. The Girl Generation will support the global movement to end FGM over the next 4.5 years, bringing stories of change to a global audience, stimulating media campaigns, recruiting ambassadors, and mobilising resources to help end FGM in one generation. To be part of this movement for change, and learn more about the Girl Generation:
- Follow The Girl Generation on twitter @thegirlgen
- Visit/Sign up on The Girl Generation website (from Friday October 10th)
- Visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/TheGirlGen
- Watch and share this one-minute video 'The generation where FGM ends'
The Girl Generation combines the expertise of human rights organisations, Equality Now and Forward, communications company Ogilvy & Mather Africa, with management and technical oversight by Options. It is funded by the UK Department for International Development.