World

Efua Dorkenoo remembered: 'My mother, mentor and wisdom'

Efua Dorkenoo Image copyright Efua Dorkenoo
Image caption The FGM campaigner is remembered as "unstoppable" and a good listener

Efua Dorkenoo, a Ghanaian campaigner who fought for years against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), has been remembered as a "force" and a "powerhouse of wisdom".

"Mama Efua", as she was affectionately known to those close to her, died on 18 October, aged 65.

She fought an international battle to stop women and girls undergoing FGM.

FGM includes any procedure that alters or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

In its most severe form, after removing the sensitive clitoris, the genitals are cut and stitched closed so that the woman cannot have or enjoy sex.

The UN says 30 million girls are at risk of being cut in the coming years.

Ms Dorkenoo campaigned for more than 30 years to put an end to FGM, seeing the campaign move from a problem lacking in recognition to a key issue for governments around the world.

Earlier this year the UK hosted an international summit on ending FGM, at which Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted to see the practice ended "within my lifetime".

Her campaign brought her to global attention, and as part of that work Ms Dorkenoo joined the BBC for the first 100 Women series in 2013.

She also started The Girl Generation, a campaign group calling for an end to cutting, which launched a week before she died,

'Mother and daughter'

Nimco Ali, who works at the organisation, told the BBC Ms Dorkenoo inspired her to "finally stand up" against the brutal practice.

Ms Ali said she had been involved in campaigning against FGM after she survived being cut in Djibouti when she was seven years old.

She said she became close to Ms Dorkenoo in 2010.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The UN says 30 million girls are at risk of being cut in the coming years

"Efua was a force and she got all that I was saying, without looking at me like I was crazy."

Ms Ali said she talked to the Ghanaian campaigner about how FGM amounted to violence against women and was rooted in the need for control.

"She got that and for the first time someone that looked like a woman who could have raised me was getting what I was saying.

"From there we developed from there a 'mother and daughter' relationship."

"She was funny and a powerhouse of wisdom but also listened."

'Unstoppable'

Ms Ali remembers Efua Dorkenoo as being "unstoppable" and says that she would have "worked 24 hours [a day] if she could".

"If I knew how she lived on four hours sleep and managed to do all she did, I would have cloned her.

"Her legacy will continue as she touched and inspired leaders and activists alike, across the world," Ms Ali said.

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