Case Study: FGM The Rose

This week marks 100 years since women’s suffrage, but also International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, a horrific practice that unfortunately is still widespread today.

This isn’t a practice that’s affecting a small section of women either. Worldwide, at least 200 million women and girls have undergone some form of female genital mutilation. While FGM is most frequently practiced across Africa and regions of the Middle East, it is very much a local problem too. In England and Wales alone, over 137,000 women and girls are living with the permanent-damage that is FGM, and the number continues to grow with a case of FGM being discovered or treated at medical appointment in England every single hour.

Determined to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation ‘within a generation’, Plan International UK tasked us with creating a provocative campaign that would raise awareness and inspire a deeper, more meaningful conversation with policy-makers and the public alike.

The challenge was: how do you make a powerful statement that has real impact, without offending or alienating survivors of the practice who may still be suffering?

Being such a sensitive subject with many of our potential audience possibly being survivors themselves, it was just as important that our campaign be respectful and sensitive, yet also a powerful statement that would inspire real change.

Our creative was inspired by ‘cutting season’, an ugly term for an ugly practice in which girls are flown abroad, in a trip often disguised as a holiday, to then undergo FGM in countries where it is not yet illegal. We responded to this cruel insight with simplistic symbolism: a single red rose cut by a pair of cold, metal scissors. The association of a rose and a woman’s fertility and innocence, created a confronting statement and a strong, emotional reaction to a simple action for all those who saw it online or through the various media platforms who shared our campaign.

Featured heavily in the likes of Sky News, The Guardian, The Daily Mail and more, so strong was the reaction that #FGMrose was used by the Prime Minister (David Cameron, at that time) during his address to the DFID and Unicef event, Girl Summit.

We are proud that #FGMrose helped build awareness and a meaningful conversation around the need to eradicate the practice but we’re sharing the campaign here as a reminder that we still have a long way to go, both at home and broad, if we are to create a safer future for women and girls everywhere.

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