Efua Dorkenoo, OBE (6 September 1949 – 18 October 2014), affectionately known as "Mama Efua", was a Ghanaian-British campaigner against female genital mutilation (FGM) who pioneered the global movement to end the practice and worked internationally for more than 30 years to see the campaign "move from a problem lacking in recognition to a key issue for governments around the world."
She was born in Cape Coast, Ghana, where she attended Wesley Girls' High School. She moved to London at the age of 19 to study nursing, and eventually earned a master’s degree at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a research fellowship at City University London. She was a staff nurse at various hospitals, including the Royal Free, and it was while training as a midwife that she became aware of the impact of FGM on women's lives.
She joined the Minority Rights Group and travelled to various parts of Africa to gather information for what was one of the earliest reports published on FGM in 1980. In 1983 she founded the Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development (FORWARD), a British NGO that supports women who have experienced FGM and tries to eliminate the practice. She began working with the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1995 and was the acting director for women’s health there until 2001. She started and was Programme Director of "The Girl Generation: Together To End FGM", an African-led social marketing programme to end FGM that officially launched on 10 October 2014, and was also Advocacy Director and, subsequently, Senior FGM Advisor for Equality Now (an international human rights organization). She was close friends with Alice Walker, advising on and featured in the documentary film Warrior Marks (1993) made by Walker and Pratibha Parmar and with Gloria Steinem, who wrote an introduction to Dorkenoo's 1994 book Cutting the Rose: Female Genital Mutilation.
Honours and recognition
In 1994, Dorkenoo was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 2000, she and Gloria Steinem received Equality Now's international human rights award. In 2012, she was made honorary senior research fellow in the School of Health Sciences at City University London, and in 2013 she was named one of the BBC's 100 Women.
- Cutting The Rose: Female Genital Mutilation the Practice and its Prevention (Minority Rights Group, 1994).
- Report of the First Study Conference of Genital Mutilation of Girls in Europe/ Western World (1993)
- Child Protection and Female Genital Mutilation: Advice for Health, Education, and Social Work Profession (1992)
- Female Genital Mutilation: Proposals for Change (with Scilla Elworthy) (1992)
- Tradition! Tradition: A symbolic story on female genital mutilation (1992)
- As Stella Efua Graham with Scilla McLean (eds), Female Circumcision, Excision, and Infibulation (Minority Rights Group Report 47, 1980)
- "Obituaries: Efua Dorkenoo", The Times, 29 October 2014.
- Alexandra Topping, "Efua Dorkenoo OBE, the ‘incredible African female warrior’, has died", The Guardian, 20 October 2014.
- "Efua Dorkenoo remembered: 'My mother, mentor and wisdom'", BBC World News, 27 October 2014.
- Leyla Hussein, "Efua Dorkenoo obituary", The Guardian, 22 October 2014.
- Jane Kramer, "Postscript: Efua Dorkenoo, 1949-2014", The New Yorker, 23 October 2014.
- Emma Batha, "Anti-FGM campaigners mourn death of pioneer Efua Dorkenoo", Reuters, 20 October 2014.
- "About Us", FORWARD.
- "Efua Dorkenoo", Equality Now.
- Douglas Martin, "Efua Dorkenoo, Who Campaigned Against Genital Cutting, Dies at 65", The New York Times, 27 october 2014.
- Ella Alexander, "Efua Dorkenoo dead: Influential FGM women’s rights campaigner dies, aged 65", The Independent, 20 October 2014.
- "Celebrating Efua Dorkenoo, OBE, UnCUT/VOICES’ board member, author and friend", UnCut/Voices Press, 23 October 2014.
- Tobe Levin, "Founder of FORWARD: Efua Dorkenoo", Our Bodies Ourselves.
- "Remembering our friend and colleague, Efua Dorkenoo", Culture of Peace News Network (CPNN), 28 October 2014.
- "100 Women: Who took part?", BBC World News, 22 November 2013.
- "Africa's 100 best books of the 20th Century", Africa Studies Centre Leiden.
- Emily Langer (23 October 2014). "Efua Dorkenoo, who fought female genital mutilation, dies at 65". Washington Post.
- Equality Now home page
- African Review of Books on "Cutting the Rose"
- FORWARD home page
- Efua Dorkenoo and others addressing the issue at the Scottish Parliament in 2004