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Dozens of locals residents and community leaders came together on International Women’s Day to commence the planting of a memorial peace garden in honor of those affected by female genital mutilation (FMG).
Hosted by the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) on Wednesday, March 8, women of all ages and races gathered at Mother’s Peace Garden in Southeast in solidarity with women and young girls all around the world on the issue.
“Millions of women and children’s lives are on the line every day,” said Jibria Waller, Howard University student and IWPG activist. “How can anyone stand still thinking about this?”
IWPG partnered with various community leaders such as Angela Peabody, founder and president of Global Woman PEACE Foundation, to represent the millions of lives touched by female genital mutilation, which continues to be a strong global issue today.
FGM affects as many as 200 million lives worldwide as of 2016, according to IWPG. The ages range from days after birth to adulthood; many girls are cut before the age of 5.
The ritual stems from gender inequality, attempts to control female sexuality and points of view regarding modesty and purity. Long-term effects include fatal health complications and death, as well as psychological issues.
IWPG believes that overall FGM targets young women and their health, security and civil rights.
The peace garden remains one of several memorial gardens rooted in the Washington area to combat social and civil issues such as the Comfort Women Memorial Peace Garden in Fairfax County in honor of girls forced into sex slavery during World War II and the Constitutional Gardens near the National Mall.
Attendees and guests received an opportunity to contribute to the garden by adding a personal flower in honor of anyone or anything close to them.
The nongovernmental organization exists to bring awareness to gender inequalities and establish the role of women and mothers in society.
There are branches of IWPG established throughout 100 countries and six continents.
Their latest project includes the “War Cessation Movement,” which plays on the influence of a mother’s love in regards to protecting young lives in the battlefield and bringing a ending of war and a beginning of world peace.
“In the midst of the chaos within the past few months in D.C. and political parties transferring and moving, it’s refreshing to see a boost of activism done in a peaceful manner” Waller said. “I mean, what’s more peaceful and nonviolent than planting a peace garden?”