When she was first asked to be the patron of CHANGE Plus, Fatoumata Siré Diakité immediately accepted this request, saying that she would be honoured to support this project which perfectly matches her own desire to end FGM.
In fact, Fatoumata Siré Diakité is not only the former Ambassador of Mali in Germany and a highly decorated public figure, but she is also a famous women’s rights activist.
She is the founder and director of the Malian organisation called “Association pour le Progrès et la Défense des Droits des Femmes” (APDF, Association for the Progress and the Defence of Women’s Rights), which is working to support girls and women whose lives are affected by violence. APDF keeps two shelters, one in Bamako and one in Mopti, where girls and women can find refuge, counselling, medical help and the possibility to learn new income-generating skills. All these services help girls and women to live independently and free from violence.
In Mali, 89% of girls and women are affected by FGM and 73% think that the practice should continue, which is why the fight against FGM is particularly important for Fatoumata Siré Diakité. Her personal fight against the practice of FGM often took place with great violence, especially from fundamentalist Islamists in Mali. Despite Fatwas pronounced in Mosques against her person, following death threats and physical, verbal and psychological assaults from local authorities and medias, she has never been discouraged. Despite all opposition, Fatoumata Siré Diakité and her organisation APDF never stopped campaigning against FGM since its foundation more than 25 years ago.
Fatoumata Siré Diakité’s commitment to ending violence against women is not limited to Mali alone. As head of APDF, she is the regional director of the “African Coalition on Traditional Practices and the Empowerment of Women” (ACTPEW), aiming to create a safe society in Africa and the diasporas where women and girls live free from harmful traditional practices. One of the networks most prominent goals is to stop the practice of FGM.
For all these reasons, we at CHANGE Plus count ourselves very lucky to have Fatoumata Siré Diakité as our patron. The project will benefit a lot from her expertise, long-standing experience and seemingly infinite energy.