John McCallum, our East Midlands Coordinator, shares his experience of attending an ‘End FGM’ event:

I have just come back from a field of newly planted fruit bearing trees at an Ecofarm in Screveton in the depths of rural Nottinghamshire. I attended an End FGM (female genital mutilation) event with people from communities in Nottingham that met to champion the campaign to end this horrific practice on vulnerable young women.

Near Neighbours has supported the event alongside the Mojatu Foundation, Nottingham City Council, as well as a range of partners including Near Neighbours funded projects.

A hazelnut tree was planted on behalf of Near Neighbours with a special commemorative plaque. Though one of the coldest days of the winter weather and the ground being very muddy, we were undaunted. We had a great time settling in the young trees and protecting them with supportive stakes and tree guards.

There is perhaps a metaphor in such protection that reminds us that far too many young women are unprotected from the abuse of FGM. Meeting in the warm and welcoming Farm Eco Centre, we heard speakers tell us that Nottingham is the first city in the UK to pass policy to end FGM and that speakers from our community had been invited to tell of their work at the UN.

As a man, I felt privileged and humbled to be part of the day, and especially as it fell on the anniversary of Women gaining the vote in the UK. There is still much we can all do to advance both the rights and the role of women in our communities as we join together to combat abuse and sexism. Near Neighbours gratefully recognises the success of the unstinting actions of so many women in our local communities who make such a difference to the lives of their neighbours.